Even though Jesus’ final recorded prayer in Scripture stands as a petition for unity among his followers, area teens understand that reality sometimes differs from biblical guidelines. Which explains why people such as teenager Elizabeth Andrews meets Protestants who don’t quite get parts of her Catholic doctrine.

Or hears of other believers unaware of elements of their peers’ beliefs.

On the one hand, she sees education and awareness as important. On the other hand, she ultimately sees all Christians under one banner of God’s love and grace.

“That’s why I wanted to be part of something to unify Christians,” Andrews said.

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The Columbus North High School senior has joined with friend and fellow North senior and Catholic Connor Boyle on a shared senior project, “Unity Praise and Worship Night,” 7 p.m. Jan. 31 at Columbus’ Judson Erne Auditorium, 1400 25th St. Andrews will be one of the vocalists in a teen praise band composed of musicians and singers from a variety of churches.

The gathering also will feature booths from local churches highlighting different outreaches and efforts. The event, with a $5 admission charge, will benefit the local Horizon House homeless shelter on Chestnut Street.

“I care about issues like unity so much because Christ is about the unifying love of God,” Andrews said. “And I love how music can bring people together.”

The music group will perform songs such as Hillsong United’s “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail),” Casting Crowns’ “Life Song” and songs from other Christian acts such as Rend Collective and Matt Maher.

Boyle, music and technical director for the concert, said he, like Andrews, has seen faith sometimes keep people at a distance.

“Religion tends to be a dividing force among high school students and adults,” Boyle said. “Denominational differences often discourage gatherings among the Christian community. With this concert, we hope to bring Christians from different backgrounds together for a night of praise and worship.”

He mentioned that supporting the homeless shelter, which provides a place to stay for 20 people, excluding infants, “is one way we can give back.”

Boyle also said there’s a chance the concert can become an annual event if other students are willing to get involved next year.

“We hope that this event can bring about the realization that we are not so different from one another,” Boyle said, “and that interdenominational awareness and support can strengthen this community.”

Teens have been a leading force in unity praise gatherings locally in recent years through events called Synergy, coordinated through the Columbus Area Youth Ministries Alliance. That’s an organization of a variety of local church youth ministries. Some of those events have attracted nearly 200 people.

High schoolers also have become far more visible locally in recent years supporting social services causes through senior projects and similar efforts supporting everything from food pantries to Turning Point Domestic Violence Services.

Michelle Lee, homeless prevention department director for Human Services Inc. operating Horizon House, said she is especially happy with the teens’ support since the shelter recently saw a decrease in state funding. She said any money raised can go toward a mix of needs such as administrative costs, including heating expenses.

“We’re open to the idea even if people can’t attend the concert and want to make in-kind donations of food or supplies,” Lee said.

Student Erica Le, who has been handling publicity for the event, said she is optimistic about the night.

“I guess I hope by the end,” Le said, “that people would feel a real sense of unity and community.”

Joining together

What: Unity Praise and Worship Night, a Christian concert with a teen praise and worship band with members from several churches.

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 31.

Where: Columbus North High School’s Judson Erne Auditorium, 1400 25th St.

Admission: $5. Proceeds will benefit Columbus’ Horizon House homeless shelter.

To give to the cause if you can’t attend the concert: Donations can be mailed to Horizon House, 724 Chestnut St., Columbus IN 47201.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.