OBU to Launch Semester with ‘Saturday in the Park’

OBU will launch its fall semester with a time of community-building fun and worship during the sixth-annual "Saturday in the Park" on Aug. 28 in Shawnee's Woodland Park. The free celebration, sponsored by the OBU campus ministry office, is intended for new and returning OBU students and Baptist Collegiate Ministries students from across Oklahoma. Free food will be available for students from OBU and area Baptist Collegiate Ministries from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the park. At 7 p.m., Symon Hajjar will open the stage. The speaker for the evening will be Dr. Scott Pace, and the headline band is Chasen.

"Saturday in the Park is always a great time for upperclassmen to reconnect, and for incoming freshman to be officially welcomed into the Bison community," said Kati Westmoreland, a junior English education major from Hollis, Okla., who is co-chair. "It's a fun event to connect students before classes really get going into full swing."

Calvin Chapman, a junior anthropology major from Wagoner, Okla., is serving as co-chair with Westmoreland, who said they are looking forward to both musical guests and the speaker to welcome 600-700 students at the event.

"Symon Hajjar will offer a unique style of worship through music to open the evening," said Dale Griffin, dean of spiritual life.

Hajjar is originally from New York Mills, N.Y. He started writing and playing music when he was 18, playing mostly in church worship services until he attended Oral Roberts University.

"Once at ORU, I started a band and began to work on more of the music that I had been writing through the years," Hajjar said. "Since I graduated in 2007, I've given myself full-time to recording, writing and playing. I write from a place of ‘conversation' with the Lord, and the majority of songs that come are expressions of articulations of frustrations and struggles in my faith and/or songs of admiration and gratitude to Jesus."

Featured speaker Dr. Scott Pace serves as Jewell and Joe L. Huitt Assistant Professor of Applied Ministry at OBU. He was the teaching pastor at First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach, Fla., before moving to Shawnee. Griffin said the 2010 Saturday in the Park student committee selected Pace as their first choice to present the message.

"I am excited about the chance to encourage OBU students with the one way to guarantee themselves their best semester ever, whether it is their first or final semester!" Pace said. "As each of them embrace the challenge from Saturday in the Park, they all have the chance to be a part of God's amazing plan for them, the OBU family and our entire community."

Chasen has been playing in the top 10 on Christian radio, Griffin said. The band is named for founder Chasen Callahan, born and raised in Greenville, S.C. Callahan had a gift that was honed during nearly a decade as a worship pastor. He built a following one person at a time, playing youth camps and conferences.

As the demand for his unique brand of worship continued to grow, he added band members Evan Silver, Aaron Lord and Jared Barber. Through it all, Callahan continued to lead worship for his home congregation, Marathon Church, which attracted about 5,000 each Sunday.

"I was content to lead worship on Sunday mornings," Callahan said. "But I felt God saying, ‘I want you to get beyond these four walls and reach people for Me.'"

Chasen experienced solid radio success with two songs, the Top 5 "Crazy/Beautiful" and "Drown." They later were signed by INO Records. However, the band has not forgotten its roots - much like the humble beginning of Saturday in the Park.

"‘Saturday' began in the back yard of a local pastor and friend," Griffin said. "At that time, Dr. Kim Bearden offered to share his spacious front yard and the assistance of his congregation, Heritage Church of Shawnee. A band from Oklahoma provided the music, and 250 students attended. That is when I knew we were headed the right direction."

Five years later, Saturday in the Park is still going strong, having hosted guests such as Shane and Shane, Charlie Hall, Kristin Stanfill, Jami Smith, Robby Seah Band and speakers such as Afshin Ziafat, David Edwards, and others. For the 2010 event, Westmoreland said Air1 and KLove will be broadcast from Woodland Park.

For more information about Saturday in the Park, contact the OBU campus ministry office at (405) 878-2377.

For more information about the guest artists, visit their websites: www.symonhajjar.com and www.chasenmusic.com.