The Creighton University Chorus hosted a small, intimate gathering to reflect on the AIDS epidemic in St. John’s Tuesday night.
The World AIDS Day service was held in an effort to be more involved in supporting the community, said Stephen Sheftz, Fine and Performing Arts Music Director.
Although the attendance was small, it was a meaningful experience for those present.
“It was really good and reflective. It was a unique way of recognizing the day because it involved singing and reflection,” said first-year pharmacy student Courtney Inouye.
Sheftz coordinated the service after a student suggested that the University Chorus should increase their contribution to society through service.
Students from the choir were the readers for the ceremony, and the Rev. Howard Dotson from Westminster Presbyterian Church came to be the worship leader.
“I thought to myself, ‘Why don’t we just do a service?’” Sheftz said. The idea came from a student who was a volunteer for the Nebraska AIDS project.
Sheftz said he was on a couple planning committees before, so he used ideas from there to help him with Creighton’s service.
“I collected prayers and adapted them to make them accessible to more people,” Sheftz said. “I wanted to make it possible for people to have a spiritual experience without feeling out of place.”
Sheftz said he wanted to make the experience a positive one for all attendees. He included prayers from many cultures, such as a Sioux prayer, to make it as accessible as possible.
The music was selected carefully; instead of hymns, the songs had universal themes.
“Hymns usually have a very congregational focus, and it varies with different denominations. I wanted to avoid anyone feeling out of place, so I didn’t put them in,” Sheftz said. “The selections I chose are really universal in ideas so a lot of people can relate to them.”
Claudette Valentine, the director of Gospel Choir, said she also chose music that would speak to a large audience as well.
“The music we sing really lends itself to this sort of event because it’s inspirational,” Valentine said.
Valentine said “The Potter’s House,” one of the selections, refers to God as a potter and the people as the pots, and if a pot is broken God will mend it. Valentine hopes it will give hope to the attendees that have AIDS.
“We hope that we’re inspiration to those who need it,” Valentine said.
Included in the service was a slideshow with photos showing some of the faces of AIDS. The slides were shown during moments of silence for victims of the disease and their caretakers. Sheftz said he wanted people to realize how global the issue is.
“It’s not just men. It’s not just in Africa. It’s everywhere,” Sheftz said.
Sheftz said he is happy with the small turnout and hopes that it will become an annual occurrence.
“I am delighted about how socially minded the students are here at Creighton. I only wish there was more community present, but this is how things start,” Sheftz said. “I would love to see it grow in the next few years.”