Light sparkles in Pastor Stephen Thee’s passionate eyes as he speaks about the effort he and a group of Springfield College students are currently partaking in to organize a new service on campus. The service is called “Halftime,” which takes place Wednesdays from 7 to around 8 p.m. in Marsh Memorial Chapel. Thee’s voice contains an audible sense of purpose as he shares his reason for initiating the service.
“I want people to know about Jesus, honestly. That’s the primary motivation. I care about people and I believe that Jesus is the best thing that happened to me,” Thee said.
Thee took an unusual route to arrive in Springfield, travelling through another Springfield in Missouri before ending up in the Massachusetts city. He is only two years removed from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, which is located in Springfield, Missouri, and at 26 can still easily relate to college students. Thee knew that he wanted to become a pastor from an early age, and has pursued his passion ever since.
Thee was 12-years-old when he attended a Christian summer camp in Lexington, Nebraska and was listening to an evening speaker. Although he cannot recall exactly what the topic or speech was about, he vividly recalls what happened afterwards.
“Toward the end of the service he asked if there was anybody who felt like God was calling them to be a missionary, and he started listing these various things, and when he said pastor, I guess I just knew that that’s what God wanted me to do,” Thee said.
Thee’s father, Gregg Thee, was also a pastor and mentored his son, but Thee said that he never felt any pressure to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“He didn’t ever require me, he didn’t ever even ask me or suggest that I should become a pastor,” Thee said. “[I had] that sense of that’s what God had made me to do and called me to do.”
Thee is serving at his first church in Agawam, Bethany Assembly of God, pastoring to young adults and leading Christian education. He leads a contemporary service on Sunday nights called “Nightlife” that acts as a change-up to the church’s traditional Sunday morning services.
Thee currently lives in Springfield, only five minutes away from SC. He got connected to the college through Pastor Greg Dyson, the associate chaplin at SC. The two talked for well over a year about Thee’s vision for what he felt was his calling.
“I talked to him about my desire to maybe start some college ministry in the area, and because of his connections at Springfield College, he recommended it as a good place to start,” Thee said.
Thee began to go forward with his plan to create a service, and began involving students around four to five months ago.
“We wanted to bring students in because obviously my ability to be on campus [and] my involvement on campus is somewhat limited, but the involvement of those specific students on campus isn’t as limited,” Thee said. “It anchors the service to the campus a little bit better.
“They help to bring a more specific college feel to the service and we can minister more specifically to the needs of college students.”
Students help out during the weekly service by greeting guests at the doors and serving on the worship team. Thee also recruited the help of a member of his home church, Shaina Paris, to lead the worship team.
The service has a two-fold mission to both encourage believers in their faith midway through the week and give people a non-threatening, convenient environment to invite others to.
“It’s a service, but it’s a service open to everyone,” senior guitar player and singer John Rice said. “We’re hoping that it’s going to be open to people of all backgrounds.”
The group came up with the name “Halftime” for the service because of its time slot in the middle of the week and purpose of refreshing students, whether they are regular attendees or coming for the first time.
“The message is pretty basic in language, so anyone, whether they have a church history or not, they can understand the language that’s being spoken and can apply the concepts to their life,” Rice said.
The team has held three services so far this semester, and will continue to serve students spiritually after spring break.
Joe Brown may be reached at email@example.com