Students gather at flagpoles for prayer
NASHVILLE (BP) -- Teenagers across the country gathered at school flagpoles before classes on Sept. 25 for the 23rd annual See You at the Pole day of student prayer.
This generation of students will have a monumental impact for God's Kingdom, said Weston Savell, student pastor at Fellowship of First Baptist in Royse City, Texas, after witnessing the prayer meeting at Royse City Middle School.
"This morning, I could feel the Spirit of God moving as we held hands in one accord and prayed for spiritual revival for our school, city, and country," he said. "I felt like if we can get this generation ... really reach them ... and see them live out that faith with reckless abandonment," they will impact the church and the world.
Started in 1990 by 10 students in Burleson, Texas, See You at the Pole has grown into a global movement that -- according to the event's website, www.syatp.com -- draws more than 3 million students for prayer each year.
The event "is simply a prayer rally where students meet at the school flagpole before school to lift up their friends, families, teachers, school, and nation to God," said the website, which also noted the event is student-initiated, organized and led.
This year, See You at the Pole was promoted on Facebook and Twitter under the hash tag #ifthen, based on 2 Chronicles 7:14.
"If we pray, seek, turn; then God hears, forgives, heals," the website said.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal ministry that "advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith", has made available a memo explaining students' First Amendment rights to participate in the event.
"Christian students should not be prevented from peacefully expressing their beliefs outside of class time. They don't abandon their constitutional freedoms at the schoolhouse gate," ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco said in a release announcing the memo's availability. "The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for all students, regardless of the students' religious or political beliefs."
According to the release, the memo explains that "students have a constitutional right to participate in SYATP through prayer and worship activities" and "have constitutional rights to inform their fellow students about the SYATP event as long as they do not materially disrupt the academic process while doing so."
The First Amendment protects students' freedom to engage in the event's prayer and worship, ADF Legal Counsel Matt Sharp said in the release.
"Public school officials who say otherwise are misinformed," he said. "We hope our legal memo clarifies the freedom of students to hold and participate in this event."
To view the ADF memo, visit: http://www.adfmedia.org/files/SYATPLetter.pdf
Compiled by John Evans, a writer in Houston. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).