The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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It’s Saturday Night!

Cornerstone Saturday Night logo
Courtesy of HPUMC
Cornerstone Saturday Night logo

Cornerstone Saturday Night logo (Courtesy of HPUMC)

DALLAS, TEXAS – It’s Saturday night. The lights go down and the audience slowly begins to sit down. The murmur of discussion fades as all attention slowly focuses on the stage. The musicians begin to play a tune from the 1970s, and the crowd sings along with the words projected above the stage. While this image may match the typical concert setting, the crowd here has a different pursuit on their minds: worship.

Across the country, protestant churches are increasingly offering a new option for worship, the Saturday night service. Highland Park United Methodist Church (HPUMC) joined the quickly growing ranks of these churches on April 7 with its 5 p.m. contemporary Cornerstone Saturday Night.

Why Saturday Night?
Dana Howard, an assistant to the Cornerstone service, said that HPUMC’s contemporary community had been contemplating adding a Saturday night service for months. “We have always been about giving our members five ways to worship, and we have a history of adding these different kinds of services, and Cornerstone was one,” she said. While the five ways to worship may sometimes be the addition of a new service or worship community, in this case it provided a new service to an already popular community.

HPUMC has always dealt with being in a landlocked location by expanding their services. While the church has founded multiple churches throughout the Dallas area, Howard says that most practitioners like to stay on their suburban campus. “It’s not uncommon for us to be looking for ways to expand,” she said. With Cornerstone services at 95 percent capacity, it was simply time to expand beyond regular service times.

Another reason for creating a Saturday service was the elimination of excuses. “We don’t want anyone to have an excuse for not coming” Howard said, “We don’t want people saying they don’t like these people, I don’t want to dress up, I don’t like the music.” Perhaps one of the biggest jabs at Sunday morning service, the loss of sleeping in on a weekend, is eliminated by the Saturday night service. Emma Ruk, who attends Cornerstone, cited sleeping in as her main reason for attending the Saturday night service, “I can sleep in on Sunday, and it ends early so I can still have Saturday night plans,” Ruk said.

With Sunday sports games on the rise for elementary school children, Saturday night services present a strong option for families, which make up the majority of Cornerstone’s members. “There is no longer this battle between making it to soccer games and getting to the service on time,” Howard said. Cornerstone Saturday Night will have its fifth service this weekend, and Howard reports that while the majority of worshipers have been families, the crowd has surprisingly been quite similar to the Sunday morning services.

Saturday Night Fever
In her report for The United Methodist Reporter, Mary Jacobs cites Saturday night services as a current experimentation ground for churches nationwide. She describes “elements like colorful lights, rappers, fog, and edgier, guitar-driven music that’s a little louder than usual,” at a service in Florida. Cornerstone has always been the contemporary community at HPUMC and has by proxy always been a bit edgier, but Saturday nights seem to amplify the excitement. Howard says that families embrace the modern feel most, but that empty nesters and even grandparents can be seen swaying to the contemporary Christian hits played by the Cornerstone band.

 

Something else goes along with the more casual time and music, the dress code. “Literally that first time, we had people in swimsuits with cover-ups,” Howard said. While swimsuits will never replace traditional church attire, Howard says that the Cornerstone community welcomes the casual dress. “That’s fun, that’s what we were hoping, that you would just say we’re in the middle of doing this but hey, it’s quarter of five, let’s go to church.” The relaxed attire also encourages people to walk and bike to HPUMC, something not possible in one’s Sunday best. Howard says that people “just walk to the service, entering through doors that I never really knew existed.”

Strong Reception

While the legacy of Cornerstone Saturday Night obviously has yet to be written, Howard says that the first weeks have been nothing but positive. Services have been close to 50 percent full, resulting in double the number of attendees originally predicted. While the summer months will result in a drop off (Howard says that people just disappear from May to August), fall is predicted to bring large number to HPUMC on Saturday evenings.

In the end, the less crowded Saturday services might be a blessing in disguise, Howard says. “If you are coming new to church and you are really not comfortable and you’re giving it a shot after a long time for whatever reason, there is a kind of optimal number. You can feel comfortable in a small crowd, especially one to which everyone is new…we really like it when we can add these services because it builds a brand new community.”

The Cornerstone band (Courtesy of HPUMC)

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