The lights of the Zurcher Auditorium cast shadows over the sea of upraised hands in the crowd as the Huntington student body sang praises under the worship leadership of Cai during a mid-week Ekklesia.
Ben Davis, musical leader of the group, had motioned the band off stage as the October 28 Ekk was wrapping up. Instead of finishing to a fanfare, the group had opted to leave quietly so that HU students would finish the night praising God and God alone.
Cai, pronounced “Kye,” is a worship ensemble within the worship leadership department at HU. The group functions as an outlet for students in the department and as an outreach to the community. Cai was founded by Trey Sullivan, a senior now on PRIME, in the fall of 2008 at the request of Bob Myers, Ph.D., assistant professor of worship leadership. Myers wanted to create added opportunities aside from the campus band and the music department’s worship group.
“I felt that the opportunities on campus were really limited with only having Joyful Noise and the worship ensemble,” Myers said. “With there being over twenty worship ministry majors, they needed more outlets.”
Although Cai often works in the same capacity as Joyful Noise, they see no struggle with the other band. Goudzwaard mentioned a potential conjoined event at some future time.
Current members of Cai are senior Ben Davis, juniors Chelsea Goudzwaard and Peter Heneveld, sophomores Curtis Yeager, Nichelle Powell and Andrew Wheeler and freshman Petti Banfe. All are worship leadership majors or retain some affiliation with the program. Davis and Goudzwaard lead the group, for which they receive practicum credit. Davis oversees the musical elements of the group while Goudzwaard takes care of “logistics.”
Cai performs mostly off campus, Goudzwaard said. While they are available to the campus, chapel spots are often filled early. Instead, Cai makes an effort to reach into the community by playing at local churches and events.
Amanda Prior, on PRIME at New Covenant Church in Iowa, recently recommended Cai for a church retreat. As a result, the group traveled to Iowa Nov. 13 through the 15 on a bus. It will be the biggest event the group has performed for since its start. This willingness to be available to who needs them embodies the mission of Cai.
“We’ve had an awesome opportunity to be available, to go places and to see people worship,” Davis said. “Our goal is to be as good as we possibly can at leading people to worship.”