Recently ENC had the honor of hosting the annual Festival of Life, a gathering of various districts from the Church of the Nazarene, such as Philadelphia, Maine, Mid-Atlantic, New England, Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Upstate New York, to participate in many different competitions and worship together.
Middle school and high school students prepare all year long to compete at FOL for gold, silver, or bronze medals in competitions like basketball, arts and crafts, writing, chess, soccer, dodge-ball, singing, bands, puppetry, drama, bible-quizzing, and volleyball. High school juniors and seniors that participate in these events are eligible for scholarships to ENC as a result of their work.
However, many current ENC students have mixed feelings about this event, which currently takes place in one of the most hectic times of the school year; the buses packed with hundreds of kids arriving is greeted with a groan from many students.
Every person that has enrolled at ENC eventually becomes familiar with the Nazarene denomination, even if students enrolled with little prior religious knowledge. Students should see FOL as a learning opportunity: the festival even has an opening and closing service that worships through music and an encouraging message, while providing a break from studying for students, letting them relax and worship the Lord with a new community.
FOL is a unique time during campus. Though some people would say it disturbs and interrupts campus life, it truly brings new life—and new students to campus.
Sophomore Kadie Stade came to ENC and got to know the campus for a few years before applying.
“FOL is one of my favorite high school memories of all time, and the best part is back then I was unknowingly in the same packed gym as all my current best college friends,” Stade says.
The three-day-long event encourages students to explore the gifts that God has given them, prepare them, and perform them in a friendly, God-glorifying competition. Each district wears jerseys and t-shirts to represent their home and the cheering gets so exciting. Some ENC students can’t help but start rooting for a district they seem to have interest in. People naturally unite here because it truly is pure fun.
The people that become bitter about this have never given the event and the young visitors a chance to change their outlook. It may be loud, unruly, disruptive and it may look like nonsense, but FOL is a time to debrief, meet new people, and to encourage high schools to stay along the path of education. When all is said and done, we can sacrifice three days of our normal schedule to welcome students who have looked forward to this event for months.