At 7 a.m. on Sept. 11, 1991, an estimated 1 million students gathered around school flagpoles all over the country at what would become known as See You at the Pole™ (SYATP) rallies. Twenty-five years later, the student-led prayer movement is still going strong, especially in Oklahoma.
This year, SYATP happens at 7 a.m., Wed., Sept. 23—in the middle of the Global Week of Student Prayer, Sun., Sept. 20-Sat., Sept. 26—with the theme of “United,” based on Acts 1:14: “They all met together, and were constantly united in prayer.”
SYATP was conceived as a simple act of students gathering around their schools’ flagpoles to pray for themselves, their fellow students, teachers, administrators and school districts. Today, in many instances, it has morphed into a community effort culminating with rallies at churches, community centers and athletic arenas and football stadiums.
In addition to the 7 a.m. Sept. 23, prayer time, the Global Week of Student Prayer encourages students to find new and unique ways, places, and times to pray throughout the week. It also is dedicated to launching on-campus Bible clubs, prayer strategies, and student ministries.
SYATP is still popular in Oklahoma, said Nick Atyia, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) student evangelism and missions specialist.
“Its kind of moved to two levels,” Atyia said. “One you have the organized prayer around the flagpoles in the morning at the schools, which is still heavily attended in the state of Oklahoma—all student-led in the mornings. The other side of it is you have associations or groups of churches who have come together over the last five-10 years and do evening rallies. Those are getting bigger and bigger. They bring in guest speakers and bands, and some of them have as many as 1,000 in attendance. The average attendance is probably around 300.
“Last year, we filled just under 30 requests for scholarship dollars for rallies. These events are streamlined toward evangelism and trying to win people for Christ. Last year, there were hundreds of salvations recorded.
“See You at the Pole probably has taken a little bit of a shape shift, where churches are getting more involved in the evenings that day. I would say it has probably declined in participation in the past five or six years in the morning, and a lot of that is because of all of the extracurricular activities schools have now.”
As of press time, in addition to students meeting around their schools’ flagpoles in the morning on Sept. 23, the following rallies were scheduled in Oklahoma:
• Oklahoma City, Wilmont Place, 6440 S. Santa Fe, 6-8:30 p.m. Including Oklahoma City, Exchange Ave., Oklahoma City, Brookwood, Midwest City, First and Moore, Regency Park. Dunk Tank with youth ministers as targets, volleyball, kickball, Gaga, free snow cones, hot dogs, drinks, and more.
• Tulsa, First, See You At The Party! For all Tulsa Area Churches. 6-8 p.m., at Tulsa, First’s Student Center.
• Durant, First, Durant Area Youth Ministry Network and Bryan Association, 6 p.m., “Saw You at the Pole,” Bloomer Sullivan Arena, Campus of Southeastern Oklahoma State University; Speaker: Clayton King; Music: Jared Wood Band.
• Central Association, “Saw You at the Pole,” Kingfisher, First, 6:30-8 p.m. Cost $3 per person. Inflatibles start at 6. Speaker Derek McCarver; Music, Kingfisher, First Praise Band led by Doug Haymaker.
• Broken Bow and Idabel, “Saw you at the Pole,” 7-8 p.m., Broken Bow High school.
• Arbuckle Association, Pauls Valley, Trinity, 6-8:30 p.m.. Speaker: Johnny Derouen.
• Claremore Community event at Rogers State University Outdoor Amphitheater.
• Community event in Ardmore. Speaker: Ryan Young, student minister at Elk City, First, 6:30-8 p.m., First United Methodist Church.
• Rally at Cache High School Auditorium. Free food in the parking lot at 6 p.m., with pre-session entertainment. Doors open at 6:45. Rally from 7-8:30 p.m. with special guest speaker Atyia.
• Grady Association, Chickasha, First, 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30.) Pre-service entertainment with Andy Harrison, BGCO Falls Creek program director and student ministry specialist, leading “Simon Says.”
• Mayes county, 6:30-8 p.m., Pryor, First. Speaker: Kenyatta Wright.
• Cherokee Strip Association/Pond Creek, First hosting event at Pond Creek High School. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. for meal, and doors to the auditorium open at 6 p.m. for the rally.
As SYATP approaches, students can pray for the event by lifting up:
• Your school’s event—right up to the day of See You at the Pole™.
• The student leaders planning See You at the Pole™ at your school.
• That the Christians at your school will show up ready to pray on Sept. 23.
• That non-Christian students on your campus will see or hear about SYATP.
• That Christian students on your campus will make the most of the opportunity to explain what happened on the morning of See You at the Pole™ and to be a witness for Christ.
Adults also have the opportunity to be involved in SYATP by praying for:
• Your students and their friends to take part in See You at the Pole™.
• The other students in your community (or church) to take part in See You at the Pole™.
• Your youth pastor/leader in your church as he/she motivates and guides students for See You at the Pole™.
• Your students’ parents to be supportive of their involvement in See You at the Pole™.
• Non-Christian students who could be reached through See You at the Pole™.
• The Christian students in your community to strengthen their unity on campus all year long.
The best place for an adult to pray on the day of See You at the Pole™ is not on campus with the students, but at alternate locations such as your church, home, courthouse flagpole, office building flagpole, or military base flagpole.