Students across the country were given a chance to declare their allegiance to praying today at their school by clicking the “I’m Attending” icon on a Facebook event page designated to promote this year’s annual See You at the Pole event.
“Converge” is the theme of this year’s prayer rally which is celebrating its 21st anniversary of the student-initiated and student-led movement that started in the Ft. Worth suburb of Burleson, Texas, in 1990.
Organizers said the theme comes from Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” See You at the Pole has traditionally taken place in schools in all 50 U.S. states and has recently become a worldwide event.
Last year, 20 other countries participated and an estimated 3 millions students at all grade levels took part in the event.
“This is the ‘official,’ global place to declare that you will be praying on September 28, 2011,” states the Facebook event page called, “See You at the Pole-global day of student prayer.” More than 3,300 students responded to the invitation by late Tuesday evening.
In additon to the global page, individual schools were encouraged by organizers to create their own See You at the Pole Facebook event page. An event page allows Facebook users to invite their Facebook friends to the event and the page tallies how many people have chosen to attend.
In Syracuse, N.Y., Onondaga Community College student Anthony DeFrank used Facebook to promote the morning prayer event.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing God move in the students,” DeFrank said ahead of the event. “I’m planning on playing two worship songs and having different students pray for different things – the school, students, teachers, the city, the world, and the nation.”
The San Diego-based National Network of Youth Ministries coordinates the SYATP promotion. Ministry leaders hope students will go to their school flagpoles to intercede in prayer for their leaders, schools, and families, asking God to bring moral and spiritual awakening to their campuses and countries.
“SYATP helps launch teenagers and college students – in unity – to minister to their peers,” said Daryl Nuss, executive director of the Network. “See You at the Pole empowers students in prayer at the beginning of the school year to take leadership at their schools. What better way is there to begin a semester than to pray for their friends, community, and nation?”
Senior Ann Schlink, who attends Richwoods High School in Peoria, Ill., said her school also had it’s own Facebook event page to invite students to attend. Twenty-three students responded on the page that they are attending.
“I love just being able to see all of the strong Christians that go to my school, and being able to pray with them,” Schlink said. “We pray for whatever someone has a request for … so many things. We will start around the pole as a a group and then later break into smaller prayer groups.”
The Arizona-based legal group Alliance Defense Fund said that they are ready to defend students who are prevented or discouraged by public school officials from participating in the prayer event without charges or fees.
The law group said some government school officials have unconstitutionally kept students and staff from sharing about and participating in past events. ADF lawyers said that officials often erroneously cite the so-called “separation of church and state” in connection with the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.
“The only ‘wall’ that prevents religious expression is the anti-religious agenda of the ACLU and similar activist groups,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Our government and courts have already spoken: Students have a constitutional right to participate in SYATP through prayer and worship activities.”