top of page

Entry 2 Hope Went Viral: "Stopping the Revival?"

Updated: Apr 29, 2023

Day 12 Continued…

As more visitors began walking into the Seminary gym (the overflow for the overflow), I met with some eager to chat. I talked with two friendly gentleman from Europe coming from a conference in Augusta, GA and heard about “the revival”. Everyone used the word “revival” a lot. At this point, no one at Asbury has ever declared it a revival but the beginnings resembled the 1970 revival so much, many began to claim it as one. I myself called it a revival the first few days but around day four, it seemed to become something different. Another volunteer and I listened to the men tell the story of their incredible journey here to KY. They seemed unconcerned about where they were staying, when or how they would be get back - just happy to be there. They began asking us many questions. I had some opinions but I wasn’t ready to commit to any at this point, so I answered with as much neutrality as I could. I had turned my posture towards a reporter of some sort this week - both in person and online. Like many others, they asked why we were “stopping the revival?” It was a trending question. The other volunteer and I both looked at each other. The girl volunteering with me had lead worship and was a Seminary student but I immediately understood she didn’t know how to answer. So I lead with describing things literally. To put things in perspective, I described the sheer weight of cleaning the sanctuary with the understaffed custodial team and wanting the people who made it here to be safe and taken care of. Asbury couldn’t host this many people well forever. It was unsustainable and needed to spread. Looking back, I wish I had mentioned our dedication to our students and deep respect for our leadership shepherding us through what to do next. One seemed unsatisfied but also seemed to want to accept my perspective. They didn’t know anything about us but the atmosphere of the event persuaded everyone to respect each other.

That evening after attempting to salvage the bed Ollie threw up on a couple of nights before and getting cleaned up, I microwaved some leftover pizza and checked the page where the most updated announcements were being posted so I could transfer the information to my audience of now 60,000. They had just posted about Asbury live streaming. Those on social media were begging for live streams. The environment online was getting ugly today with many unsatisfied with the accessibility Asbury refused to offer. Although purple, make-shift signs were taped everywhere in Hughes asking not to live stream due to the sensitivity of the testimonials and to respect the space, we had to ask as many as 10 people a day to stop. Many of these people were getting thousands of followers with millions of views and continued “streaming” although the live streams were actually recordings and not live at all. With the largest crowd to date, it became apparent Asbury had no other option but to live stream in order to control the pouring in of people and satisfy those who wanted to come after Hughes was closed to the public.

Administration formed a schedule that weaned the public from entering the chapel and keep up with the demands of maintenance, staff and volunteers. Until Day 5, Hughes had people inside all day and all night. Some were even sleeping in the aisles and hallways. I recognized the new schedule and approach could be a big problem with communication to the public. The communication team took the approach to not post on social media to prevent things appearing as if Asbury had some sort of strategy pre-planned. But misinformation about the outpouring was greatly infecting the internet. Many visitors felt Hughes auditorium was ground zero and if they were traveling hours away, they wanted to be inside, leaving many frustrated.

As a result of the chaos online, I found myself posting to every group I could find after the announcement of the new schedule. From Day 5 on, my personal campaign goal was to direct traffic to or bring information only written or spoken by Dr. Brown to social media. Without continuity, communication can turn on you. I didn’t receive a message from God to work on it - I just did it. I read so many comments and posts. So many people needed help with logistics coming to Wilmore and I decided if I could help get ahead of those people arriving, it would be the most effective use of my time as a volunteer. Instead of volunteering all day, I only offered volunteering for 2 hours a day and spent the rest of my time taking care of students during the day and with my laptop in the evening. I spent much of my time scanning social media, answering questions with logistical information, sending resources, copying and pasting parts of Dr. Brown’s statements as answers to questions, links to unlisted accommodations, campus maps and more. I was a librarian on social media for 10 days.

When I saw we were live streaming on the page I spent most of my time campaigning for, I couldn’t help but be so overjoyed and relieved. I knew before even posting, this would solve so much. I knew it would be shared and someone else would share it, and someone else. I watched the google analytics bubbles become larger and numbers increasing on the site representing those watching as I posted in places I had built trust. I felt all of my hard work that week was paying off. The notifications of likes and shares was a constant dinging noise as I worshipped watching the live stream online. Within a few hours Sunday night, I had 500 shares collectively and who knows how many shared their shares, then shared again and so on. I found out later the reach for that one post, repeated in multiple locations, equalled around 270 per share, reaching 135,000 people (exact number still unconfirmed). I knew it would be a great relief and would dissolve naturally. It was the beginning of the end.

During the covid years, going to Hughes auditorium for chapel wasn’t possible many days and difficult for social distancing. The seats are at least 100 years old and so very small. They all feel like the middle seat on an airplane - the constant decision of who gets what arm rest. The chapel services were often recorded with large, aged cameras set up in the balcony and near the stage. Students majoring in Media Communication ran them as practice for those going into live production. Although the cameras worked great, Asbury didn’t have a control room dedicated to the space for live production. Gratefully, a generous donor donated money to build a multi-camera production room along with unmanned, small cameras installed in various places around the chapel. This allowed remote control of each camera so no one had to be in the chapel during the live production.

A few days before the live stream was official, the line to the door became longer and longer. As a way to help bring what was happening in Hughes to those waiting outside, a large screen was setup on the front lawn with a video cast using the installed cameras and television control room by students a supervising staff. The night of Thursday, Feb 16, the weather took a turn and a heavy rain storm came through. We all thought it would deter people from the waiting in line but it didn’t. Visitors stood out in the rain as staff rushed to bring any outdoor tent available. As the weather went from the 70’s to the 30’s, visitors were less tolerant to stand outside. Asbury Seminary, across the street, opened their chapels for overflow and set up screens for live streaming of the event. By Day 11 of the miraculous event happening on campus, the University was more than capable of live streaming the event online with a steady flow of students running the production behind the scenes.

Media Communication students running the livestream in the Television Control Center at Asbury University with the supervision of faculty and staff Photo by Heather Hornbeak

© Lisa Weaver Swartz

200 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Thank you, Asbury, for hosting this great event. You all did a wonderful job. God bless you. "To God be the glory!"

bottom of page