Week 5: Growth in Oxford Leads to Local Churches Finding Permanent Homes

By: Kennedy Pope and Abby Vance

OXFORD, Miss. – According to Pew Research, “the percentage of U.S. adults who say they regularly attend religious services has been declining, while the share of Americans who attend only a few times a year or never has been growing.”

However, with the population of Oxford steadily increasing, there has been a higher demand for more churches to serve the Oxford community.

St. John’s Catholic Church, located right off campus, started construction to expand its building due to an increased attendance.

“We did not have enough seats,” project manager Paul Behrndt said. “There would be times where we would be standing outside on Sunday mornings, so it was obvious we needed to expand.”

St. John’s has grown their sanctuary from seating 300 people to now seating over 600. They also offer a service for college students on Sunday nights.

“Our campus minister said we had about 500 students this past Sunday night,” Behrndt said.

Construction on St. John’s Catholic Church started last fall and is expected to be finished within the next six weeks.

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“Whenever I go to St. John’s I know I have to arrive early to get a seat,” Hannah Suvall, Ole Miss student and church member, said. “A lot of people usually have to end up standing in the back along the aisles.”

Grace Bible, another local church that has seen an increase in numbers, has been in operation for 13 years.

For several years, Grace has been looking to purchase land to build their church, as they have been renting out space on Sunday’s at Oxford Middle School’s auditorium, which is the only auditorium in the district.

“We are still several years away from leaving the middle school,” pastor J.D. Shaw said, “but I would love if in the next year we would close and find a piece of property.”

Shaw also states that he is eager to one day having a place that he and his members can call ‘home.’

The church originally met at Oxford Conference Center but moved to their now ‘office building’ in 2009. They quickly outgrew that space and moved to Oxford Middle School in 2015 but still use that building for office space, Wednesday night church meetings and counseling services for those who are in recovery from addictions.

Grace Bible also has many students that are connected to Ole Miss Cru, an interdenominational Christian organization on campus that meets every Tuesday night.

“We have a lot of students from Ole Miss affiliated with Cru, so that has always been a natural connection with us and students,” J.D. Shaw said.

Lauren Simpson, an Ole Miss graduate student and member of Grace Bible, is hoping that Grace will eventually have their own building one day so that they can better serve the community.

“Because we rent space from the school, we have people setting up and tearing down for services every Sunday,” Lauren said. “So if we had an actual church building, their efforts could be going elsewhere to serve the community.”

Simpson also stated that the office building had a more ‘homey’ feel to it and is eager to hopefully finding that ‘connected’ feeling again.

“We just feel very disconnected in the auditorium,” Simpson said. “We’re so far away from the leaders singing and just feel a huge disconnect.”

In addition to Grace Bible and St. John’s, Pinelake Oxford has also been in the process of making room to accommodate their quickly-growing community.

In 2015, Pinelake Oxford began church services for the first time at the Oxford Conference Center. Over those three years, the attendance has increased from 325 to 1,425 people. They have even added a third service on Sunday’s that is geared towards college students.

Executive Pastor of Communications, Troy Page, states that the primary goal is to better serve the people of Oxford.

“Our intention is to always to have a permanent presence in the Oxford community,” Page said.

Grant Thompson, Pinelake church member, said,I am excited for Pinelake to find its forever home.”

Pinelake Oxford recently purchased 12 acres of land across from FNC Park and is in the beginning stages of construction.

“Right now we are in the master planning process,” Page said. “Once we get that accomplished, we will have a better estimate as to when we can begin.”

“It is long overdue,” Thompson said. “I am looking forward to seeing how God’s going to work through Pinelake with FNC Park.”

More information about Pinelake’s construction updates can be found on their website at the following link: http://www.makingroom.in/oxford/


Weekly ‘What Works’ Assignment: Week 5

By: Abby Vance

Headline: Is teen vaping really an epidemic?

NBC News recently published an article about the new hobby teens are investing themselves in: vaping.

When I first saw this article, I was drawn to it by the title. Because my age-group wasn’t introduced to vaping as teenagers, I was somewhat oblivious to the shocking number of teenagers vaping. In this article, a doctor stated that 12 patients of ages ranging from 12-20 vaped using ‘Juul,’ which is a type of e-cigarette that can be purchased in many flavors.

In my opinion, I thought this article was very informative. Because I am not well-informed on ‘Juul’s’, vaping, or any type of electronic cigarette or nicotine-giving device, I was interested in learning more about them.

I will say, however, that I wish the first direct quote would have been something more informative. The first quote given didn’t really add much to the story, and I found one near the bottom that would have been much more effective at the top:

“This is the next teenage epidemic and by the time we figure the long-term consequences out, a whole generation of kids, their health is going to be impacted,” Thompson said.

Although we wouldn’t know who Thompson is without it being addressed previously, this quote would be much more impactful instead of it being near the end. Because many people want the most important information first, I think that having this quote at the top would show the urgency to stop teenage vaping.

The article also gave us photographs of people using a Juul so we could see what they look like. I thought this was great because it added another dimension to the story.

In addition, I felt that the information given was important and helpful. At the end, the article states that the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) wants to do all it can to ensure young people are not becoming addicted to these because of the abundant flavor options available.

All in all, I thought this article worked on many levels, as it was educational to know the impact vaping is having on teens. Because some teens and adults think that vaping is an ‘okay’ thing to do, I think this article addresses the seriousness of this epidemic.

Week 4: Oxford Square Bars Prepare for New Alcohol Ordinance

By Kennedy Pope and Abby Vance

OXFORD, Miss. – As of Tuesday, September 4, bars and restaurants selling alcohol on the Square have 30 days to start enforcing the new law passed by the Board of Aldermen requiring, among other things, that all IDs be scanned upon entering the bars.

A week after the controversial law was passed by Oxford Board of Aldermen, bar owners and bartenders surrounding the Square voiced their opinions.

“The scanners are pretty much-unchartered territory for me and the rest of the bar owners,” said Lee Harris, owner of Funky’s. “I just don’t think they are going to work simply because you can Google and pay 100 bucks for an ID and it will scan.”

Funky’s bar, located on the corner of the Square, has strictly been a 21 and up bar since its opening in February of 2009.

From a number’s standpoint, Harris stated that students who are underage will attempt to attend 21 and up bars regardless.

“If you look at the numbers, 60 percent of students are under 21,” Harris said.

The Board of Aldermen passed this law regulating “Alcohol and Safety” in hopes to keep underage drinking rates down.

“I see why the city did it, but from a student standpoint, I don’t think it was the most favorable decision on our part. I’m just glad I’m now 21,” said Kelsey Addison, an IMC major at Ole Miss.

Tucker Tims, Ole Miss senior and bartender at Rafters and Annex said, “In my own opinion, I do not think it is going to make much of a difference. The kids have such good fake IDs [that] most of them are going to scan anyways. If it scans and has their name and information on it, then there’s not much you can tell them.”

All bars and restaurants selling alcohol on the Square will be required to have some type of scanner. The scanner suggested by the Board of Aldermen is a $50 down payment with a $10 monthly charge with each device the scanner is on.

“I am against it just because it is more money I have to spend to check IDs,” Harris said. “I also feel like it will make security lazier because now they don’t have to really look they just scan and go.”

Riley Dunworth, an Ole Miss alumnus and bartender at The Library, attended one of the Board of Aldermen meetings and even fought against these changes.

“Because of the crowd that already comes to The Library, I don’t think attendance will change much,” Dunworth said. “I feel like the scanners will be faulty and people with fakes may have more success getting in than previously thought.”

Foreign companies such as “IDGod” offer “premium scannable fakes,” allowing students who may not have been able to have access into such bars could now possibly have access with the new scanners coming into effect.

“I’m waiting until the last minute to start using the scanners,” Harris said. “The second weekend of October is when we have to have it, and that’s when I’m getting it.”

Harris even thinks that this law will be counterintuitive to the intended purpose.

“It’s just gonna make 18-year-olds feel more empowered to go to more of the 21 and up bars,” Harris said.

“I’m not changing how I operate,” Harris said. “Here I am. I’ve been here for 10 years and I’m still pumping it out.”

Because the Board wants to empower Oxford Police to crack down on underage drinking, Harris can see why these actions are taking place; however, he also knows that 18 year-olds are going to find other means of obtaining alcohol.

“We’re just another college town,” Harris said. “If they wanna get in this bar, they’re gonna get in, doesn’t matter what app we have.”

This law will not only affect bars but also restaurants with bars, including Boure. Bartender Reece Smith is also in agreement with the opinions of bars.

“I don’t think it’s going to change much for us,” Smith said.  “We tend to have an older crowd. “It’ll definitely cost more money, but to what extent, I’m not really sure.”

From a restaurant’s standpoint, Boure and surrounding restaurants are still unsure of the precautions they will take to keep their customers happy while enjoying both a drink and a meal.

This law is scheduled to go into effect within the next 30 days to bars solely located on the Square and expand to other businesses outside the “Downtown District” by January 1, 2019.


Identify Baptism 2019

i•den•ti•fy : verb// to associate closely with; to establish who or what someone is

Yesterday, September 9, 2018, I did just that. For those of you who don’t know, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder in 2015 that controlled my life for 3 years. But yesterday, I put do death what I “thought” my identity was — a number on the scale, how many “likes” I could get on an Instagram post, receiving compliments, and claimed my identity in Christ. I would like to say that Christ has always been my priority in life, but I would be lying to you. I grew up in a Christian home with parents who loved me and showed me Jesus daily, got baptized when I was 10, was super involved with the Church — the whole 9 yards. Christ was VERY important to me, but He wasn’t where I found my identity. I loved Him and loved telling people about Him, but as Paul says so clearly in the Bible, he became a victim to the flesh. And living according to the flesh is a very trapping thing. It leaves you feeling incomplete, searching for other means of feeling whole…and my search lead me straight to Rock Bottom. There’s so much more I could say about all this, but I realized enough was enough. Only Christ could fulfill me. I didn’t understand God’s grace until I experienced it, and when He recovered me from that eating disorder He showed me how life with Him and finding my identity in Him is so much better. He brought me from a life leading to death to a life of freedom and feeling ALIVE, and that is something I can’t describe.

With all that being said, yesterday I put to death my past filled with insecurities, doubts, guilt, shame, fear, and regret and was raised feeling free, refreshed, shameless, and alive. I’m no longer finding myself based on the fact I had an eating disorder. I am already FOUND in Christ. The fact I had an eating disorder is just a fact. It’s not my stamp. It’s not where my identity is found. All we could ever want or need is found in Christ. Jesus truly is my joy, and He is worthy to be worshipped and spoken of, and I pray that I can somehow serve Him gladly.

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. ButGod, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, a result of works, so that no one may boast.For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 2:1-10

What Works: Week 4 Assignment

Headline: Lost Dog Coffee finds home in Plein Air

On Saturday, September 8, the small community of Taylor welcomed their newest business: Lost Dog Coffee.

When I first glanced at the newspaper, I was drawn to this article for many reasons: the title, the location, and the detail. Because I am a coffee-connoisseur, I am always intrigued to find new coffee shops that pop-up close by. Since I live off Old Taylor Rd., I was even more excited to know that this is not far from where I live!

The structure of this article was always smooth. I didn’t feel as though it went from one thought to another. With some stories and articles about new things opening, the flow is not consistent and jumps from one subject to the next; however, this one was different.

At the very beginning, we get a photograph of the shop –– which automatically gives us a visual image of what the place looks like. I think it’s a great idea to include a photograph at the very beginning so people aren’t worrying and wondering what this place might look like.

In addition, We are presented with the information that is needed to answer most of our questions –– which is how every story should begin. Then, the story starts to unfold, as we are given a brief “history” of how the creation of Lost Dog came to be.

For me, I personally enjoy seeing quotations near the top of a story, and seeing one in the third paragraph was a great detail. These quotes allow us to connect with the person speaking, as well as giving personality to the text.

Another thing I liked about this article was that the author really made it interesting. Sometimes when writing stories about a store opening, they seem somewhat “dull,” if you will. However, this one was interesting because I think the need for more coffee shops in the surrounding areas of Oxford is high. In addition, the detail we were given about this coffee shop was informative. To know that this coffee shop will have one of the first Modbar AV espresso makers in it is impressive, which I think will draw in more people.

The article concludes by giving us information about their soft opening and the hours in which it will be held. In my opinion, I always like to end a story with giving people information about a business or the time something will take place, so I thought this was very effective.

High Point Coffee Hopes to Offer More Than Just Coffee

High Point Coffee, a longtime local favorite that became Uptown Coffee last fall, opened a new location last week on Old Taylor RoadManager Stephanie Gunderson says that she is very excited about having a new coffee shop in Oxford.

“I just feel like we have a lot to offer college kids,” Gunderson said.

High Point is under the ownership of Amy and Joel Edlin, who partnered with Gunderson to open the new High Point.

Gunderson previously worked in the corporate coffee business for almost 10 years and was eager to have an opportunity to work locally.

“This is my life,” Gunderson said. “This is what I’ve always wanted to do: be part of a community and give back to the community of Oxford.”

Even though they opened less than a week ago, High Point has seen many familiar faces.

“We already have regulars,” Gunderson said. “We know what they want when they come in, and that’s an experience you don’t get at most places.”

Nutrition and Dietetics major Anna Kathryn said that High Point offers a different atmosphere.

“It just feels more calm here,” Anna Kathryn said. “You can come and not worry about having to find a seat at the library and just hang out. That’s what I like about it.”

Worker and junior criminal justice major Jasha McGee is expecting High Point to become a place for college students to come and relax.

“It’s like the coffee shops you see in the movies,” McGee said.

High Point offers study rooms, game rooms, spaces for groups and a deck outside for students, business workers, or anyone wanting to “escape” reality.

“We just want people to come and hang out with us,” Gunderson said.

High Point’s coffee is roasted by owner Joel Edlin at least once a week and offers drinks from espressos to frappucinos to cold brew that is brewed every 72 hours. They also serve bottled beverages, muffins, and snack trays.

Brown Family Dairy, a local family farm, also has drinks named after their cows on the menu since High Point uses their fresh milk.

Since the first incarnation of the original High Point, when they were one of Oxford’s only coffee shops for more than a decade, Oxford has experienced an explosion of coffee offerings including Cups, Starbucks and The Coop, located rooftop of The Graduate hotel.

“We are 100% local, and I think that’s what makes us different from most coffee shops,” Gunderson said.

Recent high-school graduate Eddie Tyson is looking forward to becoming a regular at High Point.

“The people here and the atmosphere is so different,” Tyson said. “You can tell they really care and know how you want your coffee.”

Gunderson hopes to expand the coffee shop and provide room for talent shows, local charity events and other ways to get the community involved.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about the experience and keeping it local,” Gunderson said.

High Point Coffee is located at 3010B Old Taylor Rd. in front of Faulkner Flats and is open Monday-Saturday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.



Weekly ‘What Works?’ Assignment 2

Headline: Parking department sells fewer permits at increased cost

On August 30, The Daily Mississippian posted an article about a common issue shared by most college students: parking.

Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have become the stage for students to post their frustrations with finding a parking spot on campus, and even though these are funny I can relate.

I was immediately drawn to this article because 1. I am a college student, and 2. I am often seeking a parking spot –– be it on the Square or on campus. Upon reading this article, I was surprised at how informative it truly was. I always love seeing numbers, as they give more evidence and provide us with true facts, and to see that certain parking spots sold out in only five hours on campus was shocking. I know that we have a growing campus, but I didn’t know just how much until seeing cars circling the parking lots around campus.

Mike Harris, the Director of the Department of Parking and Transportation at Ole Miss, stated that students have been complaining about the lack of and the overselling of parking spaces on campus.

Harris said that the reason for the overselling was due to the fact that many students will use one parking spot in one day. In addition, Harris went on to mention that students are unaware of available parking spots on campus –– including the Manning Center, which is available to those who purchased a Residential, Commuter, or Faculty/Staff permit and usually has over 100 vacant spots.

I also thought this article worked not only because of the information that was given by someone in authority but also because the article mentions a student’s frustration with the issue.

Cellas Hayes, a senior biology major, says that it is “inconsiderate” to pay so much money for a parking spot and end up following someone to his or her car just so she can get a spot in time to make it to class.

I like that we are given a perspective of a student who shows frustration; however, I think it would also be effective to provide the audience with a student who maybe has not seen the frustration with parking.

Personally, I have never had a hard time parking on campus. Since I’ve been to Ole Miss, I have purchased a Park-n-Ride permit at the South Lot. No matter if I’m running late to class or am simply rushed for time, I am guaranteed a parking spot every day. This article even mentions that the Park-n-Ride option has over 700 open vacancies at both locations combined.

All in all, I feel that this article was informative and eye-opening to the fact that Ole Miss is a growing campus and th4e need for parking is severe. However, Harris did inform students who are frustrated with parking to perhaps ‘venture’ off and find a vacant spot that is not where they usually park. I think this article might even lead students to purchase more permits at the South Lot and the Jackson Avenue Center.