AUBURN –– It’s been over seven months since the Unite movement began in Auburn, and the Christian revival that it sparked is now spreading like wildfire to colleges across the Southeast.
On Sept. 12, 2023, Unite began with a gathering of nearly 5,000 Auburn students and community members in Neville Arena. When students came forward asking to be baptized that night, the crowd transported to the Red Barn at the College of Agriculture, where over 100 people were baptized.
Unite has spread from Auburn to the campuses of Florida State University, the University of Alabama and, most recently, the University of Georgia. Auburn University senior and former vice president of the Jungle, Michael Floyd, was in attendance for the initial Unite at Auburn, and he has joined many Auburn students who have witnessed the movement grow at these other schools.
“People (at other universities) are like, ‘Hey, I saw this when it was at Auburn,’ or ‘I saw it when it was at Alabama or Georgia. Now it’s coming to my university, and that’s something I want to be part of,’” Floyd said. “There’s a lot of excitement, and that excitement drives people to show up expecting something. When you come in expecting something, you usually find it.”
Floyd found it himself on Sept. 12, when the fire was sparked on the Plains. Public figures such as Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl, Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze and Auburn baseball coach Butch Thompson were in attendance, but Floyd said that didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. Everyone was there on equal ground with the common goal of glorifying God.
Now, he’s seeing the movement grow with each school it hits. Floyd pointed out that Unite at Georgia, the most recent of the events on April 3, drew the largest crowd of all the ones that he’s attended, with around 6,000 people in Stegeman Coliseum.
“I continue to go back (to Unite events at other schools) because I enjoy seeing students that come – you wouldn’t believe the story of these students that come give their life to Christ at these events,” Floyd said as he shook his head. “I go back because when you have the opportunity to grow the kingdom of God, you just have to take part. It’s not about Michael Floyd — it’s about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Floyd, a former leader of Auburn’s students section — the Jungle — and an outspoken lover of all things Auburn, has frequently engaged in trash talk against Auburn’s biggest rivals. His name on X, formerly known as Twitter, is “AUBURN SUPERFAN #2;” hating on Alabama and Georgia is just what he does.
But Alabama and Georgia are the two schools he’s visited for Unite events. When all is said and done, he recognizes that this movement will always takes precedence over a sports rivalry.
“That goes to show you that there’s more to life than just rooting against your rival,” Floyd said.
The Unite movement is not endorsed by any specific church or denomination. It started at Auburn through Tonya Prewett, mother of former Bachelorette contestant Madison Prewett and wife of Auburn University basketball assistant coach Chad Prewett, who led a small group that started with five girls that met in Neville Arena every Friday. The group grew, and now all those girls and several other Auburn students like Floyd and his friends attend each event.
Speakers Jennie Allen and Jonathan “JP” Pokluda joined with Passion Music in Neville Arena for the initial Unite and have delivered consistent messages and music at each event, except when Circuit Rider Music played at Georgia. Floyd said the principles and messages of each event are similar but tweaked for each audience. Nonetheless, the way God’s word is received each time never gets old.
“Just seeing thousands of college students unapologetically lift their hands and worship Christ — it’s breathtaking,” Floyd said, wide-eyed. “It’s astonishing, and it’s something surreal that you have to witness.”
The next Unite gathering is on May 1 at the University of Tennessee, but Floyd pointed out that there will be fewer Auburn students in attendance due to it being finals week at Auburn University.
Floyd is set to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the end of the semester in May, but he remains adamant that the Unite movement is just getting started.
“Buckle up because we’re not done yet,” Floyd said. “If there’s ever a time to draw closer to Jesus, that time is now… I think the world is seeing that college students are ready and on fire to serve Jesus.”