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Hollywood comes to Cumberlands


Team Wordplay entertains the UC students with words from the Bible and how they change one’s life.

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. — When Dean Whitaker began planning this year’s University of the Cumberlands (UC) Spring Renewal, he had a definite message that he wanted to share. Along with his goal of “sharing the Gospel to students in a non-threatening way,” he also wanted to share some heavy messages about addiction. It was this joint goal that led him to invite the Christian comedy act, Team Wordplay from Hollywood, California, to come and share their message to UC students.

“Because of the heavy stuff I felt led to talk about, I felt we needed something to lighten things up,” said Whitaker, UC’s campus minister.

The event, which took place on Monday, Feb. 13 through Wed. Feb. 15 on the UC campus, is an annual event that is part of several revival-type events held throughout the school year. Whitaker decided to invite Team Wordplay to Williamsburg to minister to UC students in their quirky, comedic style. Ryan O’Quinn, half of the Team, first came to Cumberlands in fall 2011 during the Baptist Campus Ministry’s Fall Awakening. O’Quinn works for Compassion International, the group that led the worship at the event. It was then that he shared his other ministry with Whitaker.

“I thought, ‘that sounds really interesting, that may be the next thing we need to present the Gospel in a non-threatening way,’” said Whitaker about first learning about the comedy ministry team.

Ryan O’Quinn and Chris Woolsey make up Team Wordplay. They are professional actors who, when not working in Hollywood, travel the country “providing top-quality, Biblically-driven skits, improvs and sermons to churches and youth groups.” Their brand of humor was just what UC’s Spring Renewal needed.

“Team Wordplay is a lot different than typical speakers,” said UC sophomore Julie Paris. “They didn’t hold a Bible, but you saw how much [Biblical] knowledge they had. They talked about how important scripture is and how it can change someone’s life.”

O’Quinn and Woolsey shared the gospel message and what it means to be a disciple of Christ, and the fun way they ministered helped lighten the heavy subject of drug and alcohol addiction that Whitaker wanted to discuss with the students. Many students opened up about their own addictions and personal victories.

As the two had grasped the entire audience’s attention, they performed a skit which left the students with a question, “who, and what do you worship?” Ryan left the students with 2 Corinthians 2:15 and stated “We are to be the God like fragrance, rising up to Christ.”

While UC students enjoyed the Hollywood act, they were also treated to music and ministry from other students and UC alums.

“The music was phenomenal!” said Paris about the band Freedom. The band was compiled of UC students and alums including Geoffrey Witt (Williamsburg, KY) who led the worship. Brent Foley, a current high school teacher and UC alum, brought his guitar skills to the group, and students Christopher Lowrie (Williamsburg, KY), Jill Tanner (Richmond, KY), Corey Fleenor (Williamsburg, KY), Andrew Kiser (Ashland, KY), and Jake McPheron (Mt. Vernon, KY) made up the rest of the group.

The UC Disciple Drama Team also performed interpretive dances about salvation and the joy one finds in Christ.

“We had some feedback that it was the best convo of the year, that it was what convo should be like all the time,” said Whitaker about the event. “Everything we prayed about and talked about [for the event], we felt like it was accomplished.”

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees more than 40 major fields of study; nine pre-professional programs; seven graduate degrees, including a doctorate and six master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs.