Last school year, Stretch Dean returned to his alma mater, Eastern Nazarene College, after being called by God to lead the Wollaston Church of the Nazarene.
During his first year back, he and his wife launched a program called “Late Night with Stretch and Jill”: a weekly event that invites the ENC student body to an hour of nighttime worship. Every Wednesday night, ENC students fill the basement of “Wolly” Church, immersing themselves in a welcoming and homely environment.
As always, there are home-made snacks or meals provided by the Deans, such as apple crisps, hot chocolate, mini cheeseburgers, and mac n’ cheese. Under the glimmering glow of Christmas lights, sounds of laughter and happy voices are always present. ENC’s community consists of students who have come from all over the world, and because of this, Late Nights work to provide a strong sense of family. For those who have traveled hundreds, or even thousands, of miles in order to call ENC their home, the warm and positive feelings found at Late Night can be just what someone needs to provide comfort and affirmation.
Stretch usually leads the night in a very casual and down-to-earth manner, making it easy for students to contribute to the discussion and share their own experiences or testimonies. Before being a pastor, Stretch attended ENC as a student, and at Late Night he often shares some stories from his and Jill’s college days, making his message more accessible and relatable to his listeners.
One of Stretch’s more recent Late Night messages was specifically designed to connect with the large number of freshman attending Late Night. Stretch addressed the initial divide between freshman and upperclassman, describing them in terms of his own expectations of ENC as he came in as a freshman, and how to overcome this divide. After the conversation, the night turns to prayer and worship.
Along with spiritual growth, Late Nights provides a space where students can further develop as college students. The fellowships and communities forming at Late Nights successfully draw people together and will undoubtedly proceed to do so as the semester continues.