When the bell rang and Hillcrest students ventured down the halls for Chapel, they kept walking and ventured down the sidewalk to the Comet Cafe. Inside they found Mr. Garvin, Hillcrest's Chapel Coordinator, shouting out numbers and pointing students to tables. Students plopped backpacks beside their chairs, reaching inside their bags to pull out their Bibles, flipping the thin pages to John 15 as the senior leaders welcomed them to their huddle time, a monthly happening at Hillcrest Academy.
Hillcrest holds a huddle time nearly every month. In September and October the time was used to prepare students for the fall Prayer Day in November. The shortened number of chapel days in December and January caused the theme of Square One to be developed in the traditional chapel setting instead of their monthly huddle group time. Now in February, the huddle time is being used to prepare for the Prayer Day, that will occur in March, and the student body will meet one last time in huddle groups in April before the end of the school year.
The huddles are small group Bible studies led by Hillcrest upperclassmen. Today the students studied John 15, reading through the design God has for humankind to remain connected to Him. The groups started in prayer before defining the word "love", and then jumping into a verbal reading of John 15:1-13.
Discussions caused the room to fill with the volume of students' voices raising to communicate to their tables the impressions they were understanding from their Bible reading. The tables discussed what Jesus meant by calling Himself the True Vine. They went on to detail the word picture of fruit, branch, and the reality of being pruned. The volume diminished as the groups turned to their papers to answer personal questions.
The first personal question asked what "vine" the students are attached to that is giving them life. They were asked how they know they are connected to the vine. From this, the students were asked what kind of fruit they are bearing. The quietness of the personal reflection was filled with the most communication of the huddle group time, but was encapsulated in written form on their papers. The students were led to close their personal reflection time by answering where they go for life giving messages and encouragement.
The room filled with the noise of conversation again, as the seniors in the groups drew the attention of the tables in calling the underclassmen to thumb through their Bibles to John 15:7-13. After reading the passage, the groups considered the outcome of remaining in Christ. They thought back to the chapel message from Pastor Patrick Herzog on Monday, where they were asked what they were being filled and encouraged by in their daily life, their friends, or by Jesus Christ. They considered what it looks like to love their neighbors, drawing out examples in their small group time to consider how Jesus acted with people he engaged in life.
The groups again turned to a time of personal reflection before a time of prayer. The groups prayed for wisdom as they consider how to love their neighbor, seeking guidance in how to make the fruits of the spirit evident in their lives.
Following the time of prayer the tables slowly emptied. Students stood in line at the Comet Cafe window to pick up their cookies, provided by Hillcrest's cafeteria as a midday snack before the bell rang and the students went back to class. There is a unique bond of unity at Hillcrest, where students share their progresses and obstacles they're facing in support of a Christian community working to drive one another to a deeper knowledge and relationship with Jesus Christ.