July 14, 2016 | noon
By Monique Kleinhuizen ’08, G’16, new media strategist
A good number of Bethel Royals—and possibly a million of their closest Christian friends from across the nation—will gather at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on July 16. The purpose? Together 2016, an all-day gathering of Christians aimed at blurring denominational, political, and ideological lines and unifying the church in America.
Nick Hall S’11, who leads the Minneapolis-based PULSE movement and was recently named 2016 Seminary Alumnus of the Year, is the mastermind of the event. He and his team have recruited major Christian performing artists, speakers, and personalities to take the stage. Casting Crowns, Christine Caine, Francis Chan, Hillsong United, Jeremy Camp, LeCrae, Louie Giglio, Tedashii, and Ravi Zacaharias—plus Bethel’s own Campus Pastor Laurel Bunker, Sammy Wanyonyi S’08, S’14, and former trustee John Jenkins—are among the confirmed line-up. While the event is free and there’s no formal registration, attendees were asked to click “I’m going” on the event website. As of July 13, there were 350,000 planning to attend.
“I cannot describe how it feels to be a part of an event of this magnitude,” says Bunker. “It is almost surreal and I am certainly honored, but I would not say that I am surprised. I have known Nick Hall for almost five years, and what has impressed me most about Nick is humility, his depth of character, his love for Jesus and his desire to see everyone's gifts leveraged for the kingdom.”
Bethel University President Jay Barnes, the Board of Trustees, and the Executive Leadership Team sponsored a bus trip for Bethel students to be able to attend the event, which is the first Christian gathering of this size since the Promise Keepers “Stand in the Gap” men’s event in 1997. A coach bus with nearly 50 Bethel students left St. Paul on July 14 after being prayed over by staff and faculty.
“I am excited that our students have the opportunity to be part of one of the most significant gatherings of Christ followers in several years,” says Barnes. “I am also humbled to know that the Bethel family has been so important in leading and speaking at Reset.”
Earlier this week, Bunker was mentioned in a Washington Post article about the event, which was described as a “modern-day evangelical revival, complete with TED Talks, hip-hop and no politics.”
It might have a decidedly high-energy marketing feel and a core goal of breaking barriers—and attendance records—but there’s a serious, biblical mission at the heart of it all. Bunker notes the importance of the event in light of recent events in our nation and with such a polarizing presidential election on the horizon. “As we look at our country and more broadly at the world, there is a desperate need for unity, for healing and for restoration,” says Bunker. “Together2016 has the potential to shift the attention of this nation and a generation of young people back to God. We pray earnestly that this will reset America. I cannot wait to see what God shall do in and through us all.”
The event website reads, “Our generation is the most cause-driven in history. But our causes are pulling us apart. Even religion doesn’t unite. We believe only Jesus can bring us together. July 16, 2016, is the day our generation will meet on the National Mall to come together around Jesus in unified prayer, worship, and a call for catalytic change.”