by Seth Eriksen

Bama UKirk started off the 2018-2019 school year with a bang on August 22nd, with their Welcome Back Wednesday event at UPerk. Alabama students new and old poured in, breathing new life into the café after a summer away. Returning students mingled with old friends, reminiscing about days gone by and summer vacations now ended. New students made new connections and were welcomed into the fold of the UKirk family.

Everyone attending the event had a lot to experience while walking around. Live music filled the air, provided by the Tuscaloosa band These Little Lights (who were amazing, by the way). Delectable refreshments covered the counter space, though not for long as students kept coming back to fill their plates. UPerk got to show off their culinary talents with specialty treats and drinks, including the Iced Caramel Latte, which was to die for. Everywhere a person looked, one could see plenty of familiar and unfamiliar faces making new friends and embracing old ones.

For those of us returning this year, walking through the doors of the café was a peculiar feeling. It wasn’t necessarily nostalgia; it was something more. Many of us first visited UPerk a year ago, when it had recently opened. It was new and unfamiliar, a stark contrast to what the college ministry students had been used to. As many familiar to UKirk can attest, University Presbyterian Church— where the ministry met for years— was more than just a meeting place; it was a home away from home.

However, upon entering UPerk for the first time this year we knew it wasn’t just a place we were getting used to; it was somewhere to which we were coming back. With UPerk, UKirkers are returning to a place they know will be there for them for a long time. If Welcome Back Wednesday showed us anything, besides the fact that the future of the student ministry looks bright, it was that UPerk isn’t just a new home for UKirk; it’s much-needed stability. The shop may not yet be the setting of many long-lasting memories, but it will be in time. Wednesday night was one of them.