MALIBU, Calif. — The simple act of gathering together safely has become a treasured and sacred experience for students at Pepperdine University.

After being affected by a mass shooting, the Woolsey Fire and the COVID-19 pandemic, the school decided to put on a worship summit, full of music and inspirational speeches to bring the student body together.

What You Need To Know

  • Pepperdine students are reflecting on three years since the Borderline shooting, plus the effects of the Woolsey Fire and the pandemic

  • President Jim Gash welcomed students to a free event entitled the Worship Summit, to encourage healing and unity as a student body

  • Senior Callie Mechelke says she is grateful that the university is pouring into the students after they've been recovering from so much trauma

  • Maverick City Music and Brooke Fraser shared gospel performances, while speaker and humanitarian Christine Caine, shared a message of faith to uplift the students

Callie Mechelke, a senior, has overcome all three of those traumas.

“It’s been really hard going through a year and a half almost of online school, and then transitioning back to being in person, just learning how to be a student again,” Mechelke said.

After having to evacuate temporarily from the Woolsey Fire, then nearly permanently due to the pandemic, Mechelke, now a senior, is grateful to reconnect with friends and enjoy some music and spiritual empowerment through the summit on campus.

“I think having an event like this, consolidating people, and just being poured into, is really important too because, I know Pepperdine students, especially with everything that’s been going on, like all the tragedies, and even the students that have passed away from COVID, everyone is exhausted from pouring out, pouring out so much,” she said.

Award winning gospel group Maverick City Music uplifted the students with hopeful melodies, and humanitarian activist Christine Caine shared a message of faith.

“You know right now on the earth, all of us have all gone through some form of trauma, and of course, this student body has been through its own trauma,” Caine said. “Our faith in God, and anchoring our hope in something and someone bigger than ourselves, can actually give us strength to be able to go through the storms of life, and come out victorious on the other side.”

That’s why the university has been so intentional with keeping the hope alive at Pepperdine. There is much to heal from, said the university’s president, Jim Gash.

“It was a real challenge for this community to reflect back, but also to look at how far we’ve come and how much we’ve tried to heal as a community,” President Gash said.

And it is particularly that ability to come together, that Mechelke said, helps in the process of recovery.

“To be reunited just as one big family, because family is so important. We are one big family.”