This semester, for the first time in a year and a half, students walked through the doors of the Ritz theatre in downtown Shawnee to participate in Canterbury. Canterbury is a worship night that usually takes place off campus, led by various student worship teams twice a month. Due to COVID restrictions, Canterbury has previously been cancelled or moved to safer locations such as on campus amidst the pandemic these past few semesters. Grace Vernon, a junior double major in elementary education and women’s ministry, shares her excitement about Canterbury being able to return to the Ritz this semester.
“Having Canterbury back at the Ritz is like being back home. It’s amazing and so much fun. Our sophomore team members had never even been to the Ritz before this semester, so it’s been fun to see them experience the joy of the theatre for the first time. We love the opportunity to do Canterbury at the Ritz because it gives us the chance to journey off campus to worship the Lord and gives a major opportunity to reach out to the community of Shawnee to come and worship too.” Vernon said.
With this semester being the first time Canterbury is back at the Ritz in quite some time, planning the event at the theatre must have been quite an adjustment from previously planning Canterbury around campus. Junior global marketplace engagement major and Canterbury co-chair Micah Compton, shares the biggest difference between planning Canterbury on campus versus off campus.
“The biggest difference is just knowing that we have a space to do Canterbury. Having it on campus was fun but we never knew if we were able to have it in the spot we planned, we ended up having to change locations quite a bit.” Compton said.
Compton’s fellow Canterbury co-chair, junior nursing major Maggie West, shares her excitement about the opportunity to plan Canterbury at the Ritz.
“It’s exciting planning it at the Ritz, you get a chance to interact with some people of the Shawnee community and get to know them, and also share a really sweet part of the ministry with them. It’s also been really cool to help in showing the freshman and sophomore class this unique part of Canterbury that we had to miss out on last year.” West said.
West also shares her love for Canterbury and the positive atmosphere it creates for her and other students.
“Canterbury is very special. It’s a safe place to come and get away from the stress of school and life and just be really intentional about your time of worship surrounded by other believers that have the same goal in mind.” West said.
With an event as special and unique as Canterbury, the event must have a unique origin story. Grace Vernon shares the idea behind Canterbury and its beginnings as a spiritual event for OBU students and the Shawnee community.
“Canterbury was started not that long ago by a group of students wanting an opportunity for students to gather to worship at a consistent but random, time in the week. The name for Canterbury came from the Canterbury Tales. The idea is that we as a collective body of believers, travel away from our home at OBU, to gather to worship the Lord as one. Canterbury highlights our need for community with each other and with the Lord” Vernon said.
Not only does Canterbury have a unique backstory, but Canterbury is also a special part of Vernon’s journey as an OBU student.
“Canterbury has played a major role in my time here at OBU. I attended the very first Canterbury I could and loved it. I was feeling so anxious and weary about this new season of life but gathering with the student body to worship our good God brought so much peace to my heart. When I got asked to be a part of the Canterbury team, I was so thankful. I had been seeking opportunities to get involved on campus and find community, and Canterbury was my first club to be a part of,” Vernon said.
Vernon became involved with the leadership of Canterbury not too long after.
“I’ve gotten the opportunity to lead a few Canterbury’s and have been thoroughly humbled and blown away by God’s goodness each time. There just aren’t any words to describe leading our student body in worship. It brings me so much joy thinking about looking out at the crowd of OBU students with their hands lifted praising the Lord. Canterbury has been such a cornerstone to my time and experience here at OBU.” Vernon said.
Canterbury’s next night of worship will again be located at the Ritz this Thursday, September 23 at 9 p.m.