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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Letting Go of Appearances: The Cleft Focuses on Relationship With God

Her right hand reached skyward, and her eyes soon followed as Cecilee Orme sang. Those in the audience were all on their feet?some swayed, some jumped up and down, most sang along.

?At the feet of the cross I give up my vain ambition and I leave my selfish pride.?

Orme lead the group of 50 in christian rock songs, accompanied by the violin, base, guitar and the bongos played by her husband, Brian.

No one wore dress clothes. The Bibles were in paperback form and didn?t contain a single ?ye? or ?thou.? By the end of the service, more than one person had fallen to the ground, overwhelmed by their sense of the Holy Spirit.

The Cleft is not the conventional christian service, and that is by design.

?We are just really tired of religion of any form. It is powerless to transform your life if you just follow rules and regulations,? said Brian Orme, who, with Cecilee, founded The Cleft in 1997.

?Most people are not into religion. We are not. It is not going to change your life on the inside, the only thing that will is Jesus,? Cecilee Orme said.

The Ormes are not against church, both go to services on Sunday, but they dislike the overbearing traditions of many christian sects. They believe many christians get caught up in wearing a tie on Sunday and worrying about what they can and can?t do. In the process they lose sight of the true nature of God.

?You can believe and end up going to hell. You have to follow,? said Shannon Schreyer, a pastor at the Church on the Terrace in Ogden, Utah, who spoke at The Cleft service on Oct. 18.

Tyler Fought, a junior studying political science, feels exactly the same way.

He first heard about The Cleft when he saw a flier hanging outside of his dorm room.

?Are you sick of religion?? it read.

Fought has bounced from church to church throughout his lifetime, most of which were non-denominational and evangelical in nature.

When he came to the University of Utah, he searched for a religious service to attend. It wasn?t until he saw that flier that he found one.

?The Cleft matched my style the best. I am not into people trying to look religious,? he said. ?The Cleft is not after religion, it is after a relationship with God.?

The Cleft meets every Thursday night at the auditorium of the Social and Behavioral Science Tower for its own religious service, but Fought believes it is different in nature from the church services that annoy the Ormes.

?A lot of christian people always turn off their minds when they go to church. If you go to The Cleft, you are encouraged to use your mind,? Fought said.

Brian Orme, who speaks regularly at the services, always encourages those in attendance to seek their own answers to the questions he raises.

?Don?t believe it just because I say it. Don?t believe it because someone is behind the pulpit. Research it yourself. Don?t click your mind off,? he said.

What started as a group of three in 1997 has blossomed into a group as large as 90 when they all get together.

This inter-denomination group attracts Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Disciples of Christ, Methodists and others.

Stephanie Weiss is one of those others.

She has always lived in Utah and has tried attending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church?none of which captured her heart.

Then a friend brought her to The Cleft last March.

?I loved the energy. God?s presence is here, freedom is here,? she said. ?I am free to worship as I choose. I don?t have to sit in my seat. If I want to scream ?praise God? I can scream ?praise God.??

Weiss? enthusiasm has caught the attention of the Ormes. She is now a member of the student leadership and participates on the prayer team.

The 12-member team trains with the Ormes to pray for people with the laying on of hands at the end of the Thursday-night service.

Brian Orme calls this the ?empowerment factor.?

?Just how Jesus relied on the power of the holy spirit in the gospels. You can lock into that same power through Christ, the power to heal, the power to cast out demons according to the will of God,? he said.

A member of the prayer team places a hand on the worshiper as a conduit for the Holy Spirit.

?If you watch, different people are bending over or laying on the ground. It is a physical reaction to God?s power and has nothing to do with those praying for them,? Cecilee Orme said.

To help foster that connection with Christ, Brian and Cecilee Orme have formed cell groups that meet throughout the week at the Christiansen Center or in the Heritage Commons. These groups, just like the Thursday meeting, attract students from Westminster College and the Salt Lake Community College as well as the U.

This is the first year the services have moved onto campus. It is also the first year the Ormes could devote their full attention to The Cleft.

The Cleft is associated with the Chi Alpha Campus Ministry program, which has groups on 250 different campuses. Originally called Chi Alpha, Brian Orme changed the name two years ago.

The name ?Cleft? comes from Exodus when Moses hid in a cleft.

?It is a place of refuge and safety,? Brian Orme said.

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