Setting time aside each week to take a deep breath and reflect on your life and growth is key as a busy college student. Thirst is a nondenominational Christian student-led group that hosts worship every Thursday night from 8-9 p.m. in the Kennedy Apartments Chapel. You can attend virtually or reserve a spot in the chapel on Zagtivities.
Thirst allows students to unwind through praise and worship in a loving community. They also spend time reflecting and talking about their lives. Thirst is open to all students regardless of their religious affiliations.
Lindsey Ernst, a senior at Gonzaga, has attended Thirst since freshman year. She is now a part of the leadership team along with Noah Cavendish and John Schott. She’s taken on the role of president in the leadership team which entails coordinating other roles, networking with the musicians and advertising.
“Thirst has always been that pause in the middle of the week for me," Ernst said. "It’s an hour of whatever you need it to be. It can be an hour of joyful songs and worship or just sitting in silence and reflecting."
Kehau Gilliland, a junior at GU, has been a part of Thirst since her freshman year and makes sure to attend each week. She joined Thirst because she was looking for a place to feel safe and welcomed.
“Freshman year I was lost and looking for a place where I could call home. Luckily, a friend of mine recommended Thirst to me and going for the first time was the best thing that could've happened to me at the time. I was so attracted to the community and space that Thirst had created, that I wanted to continue to come back,” Gilliland said. “I was at a time in my life where I was very distant with God, and that single invitation to attend was all I needed to bring me back closer to him.”
Similarly, Ernst found a way to develop a college community of faith through Thirst.
“Freshman and sophomore year taught me a lot about what a faith community could look like and how to do faith on your own," Ernst said regarding her spiritual growth. "It’s not just about going to church with your family once you get to college, you are choosing to show up to something, you are choosing to participate in something that strengthens your relationship with God.”
Despite the challenges COVID-19 has posed this year, students in Thirst carried on its weekly services.
“It’s definitely been more of a challenge this year, you have to really dwindle it down to what is the core of your group, what are your goals, what is the heart behind what you are doing, and how do you make that still happen when you're limited in a lot of different ways,” Ernst said. “Thirst is still going strong. We survived."
Gilliland has experienced personal growth over the years after continuously attending Thirst and being a part of the community.
“My confidence has boosted since attending Thirst because every week we are given the opportunity for a reflection, individually or within a group," Gilliland said. "Each time we do this, I learn more and more about myself and I gain the support of my peers. Thirst has made me more extroverted and outgoing, more willing to put myself out there and participate in vulnerable conversations."
Gilliland has made many everlasting friendships in the Thirst community.
“You can see special sparks and friendships being formed over this one commonality of wanting to worship God,” Gilliland said.
Lea Cayanan, a junior at GU, has been attending Thirst since freshman year as well. She plays piano and sings during worship. Like others, Cayanan joined Thirst to find a community and a safe space to spend time with God.
“I was looking for a way to be able to spend more time cultivating my faith and surrounding myself with people who are doing the same,” Cayanan said.
This community has allowed Cayanan to rediscover what faith meant to her and explore her relationship with God through music and community.
“I’ve grown immensely in both my faith journey and in my confidence," Cayanan said. "Thirst has opened a space where I can rediscover what faith means to me and how to navigate it as a young adult. I’ve also been given the opportunity to grow in music with the help of very supportive band and leadership members."
Cayanan, Gilliland and Ernst all encourage others to try out Thirst. All you have to do is show up virtually or in person and unwind by spending time with a faith based community.