#JustPhelpsScholarsThings: The Chicago Trip, Part 1

Every year the Phelps Scholars go on the Chicago Trip, a day-long event that is meant to give students a little taste of Chicago culture and a little break from college. All that’s required is to sign up, dress up, and hop on the bus.

It’s about a two-hour trip from Scott Hall to our first stop: Trinity United Church of Christ, a church that takes pride in their African-American heritage. A flock of students, either drowsy or adrenalized, make their way to the Tomb on the bottom floor at 8:10 a.m. We fill the two buses waiting for us just outside the door and listen, more or less, to Mr. Brown’s or Professor Vega’s quick speech. Without further ado, we were on our way…

We were given chocolate or blueberry muffins, danishes, apples, granola bars, and tiny water bottles. They sure do know how to treat a college student.
We were given chocolate or blueberry muffins, danishes, apples, granola bars, and tiny water bottles. They sure do know how to treat a college student.

Step 1: Attending the church service

Although this was not my first Sunday service, it was my first time attending a black church and that certainly made all the difference. The first thing I noticed about Trinity were 1) how warm and hospitable everyone was and 2) they knew how to look good. Although most of the members wore the typical dress shirt and slacks or the dress and heels, a few members donned radiant traditional African-American wear. The church in itself was gorgeous; there were two green banners streaked down from the skylit ceiling, framing a giant wooden cross, a floor and balcony with pews that stretched around the rotund room, a full-blown band in the center, and several pews in the front solely for their 100-something choir.

Our advisors had unintentionally scheduled our trip on the same day Trinity celebrated Men’s Day and invited guest preacher Rev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson for the sermon. The service was filled with rambunctious music, clapping, and dancing. The men were called up at one point and almost all of the Phelps Scholars men joined the ceremony. In a rare moment of silence, members’ babies participated in a dedication ceremony. The babies were lifted and shown to the congregation in Lion King fashion, and the congregation erupted in loving cheers. Rev. Dr. Dyson’s sermon was filled with passion and received continuous approval from the crowd.

The service ended with a call to the altar, praying, and hugging.

They sing loud, like really loud. And my hands were turning red from clapping.
My hands were turning red from clapping to the beat.

Stay tuned for Step 2: Soul Food Buffet

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