Bearkat Orgs: Soul Lifters Celebrates 50 Years
Feb. 20, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd
Bearkat Orgs is a series highlighting the works of SHSU’s many on-campus student organizations. For more information on campus organizations or information on how to join or start a campus organization, visit OrgLINK.
In 1971, the Soul Lifters was created by a small group of students who wanted to share their faith with their peers on campus through song. The group has seen changes in membership over the years and was able to celebrate its 50th anniversary last year.
For Nia Hodge, joining the group was not just a way to connect with like-minded peers on campus but a continuation of a tradition in her home church. Back home, Hodge has a network of fellow Bearkat alumni that represent the legacy of the Soul Lifters. When she told her church of her decision to attend Sam Houston State University, they encouraged her to join the group and keep the tradition alive.
“I went to church in Orange, Texas, and I had connections like my pastor’s wife, who went to Sam Houston,” Hodge said. “We also have other people in our church that went to SHSU, and they said, ‘You have to join Soul Lifters because you love to sing in the choir.’”
After taking her time to get settled in college, Nia joined in 2021, at that time the group was struggling to stay afloat after the pandemic led to less people on campus to participate. The executive board was all that the Soul Lifters had, but their determination kept them together and led them to almost triple their membership by 2023.
With expanded membership, the group can carry on their choir performances, such as an upcoming event at Prairie View A&M University. Soul Lifters not only consists of a choir but a small dance team as well. Together, members of the choir and dance team work together to host various events.
“We have our Campus Connect, which is basically like a church service on campus,” Hodge said. “We have guest speakers from different places come and share different stories with us or just give us the good word. It’s another ministry for us to also get out there and for people that don’t really feel comfortable joining the choir or going into a bible study, they can just visit our events and the church on campus.”
On top of their Campus Connect events, they hold Soul Lifters Week, a full week of revival-style events where the group can share their passion with students from all walks of life and potentially recruit new members. In all of their events, the organization strives to live up to its name and provide an uplifting experience to all students.
“It feels great that I get to make a difference, even when I’m feeling tired or something, it always uplifts me when I can help other people who are trying to join this type of thing,” Hodge said. “It’s a liberating experience, I know when stuff gets stressful, I can always count on all the people of Soul Lifters because we’re all here to worship and confide in one another, because it’s basically like a family.”
Fostering a familial relationship within the group was something that began at its inception and is something that Hodge is pleased to carry on as the current president. Hodge and her peers on the executive board work together to help members and those questioning joining to not just expose them to the teachings they hold so dear but to also uplift them to be the best versions of themselves. By offering religious support and peer-to-peer encouragement, they can make the group welcoming to everyone.
“It’s super important to have an organization like ours on campus because it leads you to the next generation,” Hodge said. “It’s not just for us, everything that they started off with in 1971 has gone up to this point. I’m telling you, COVID almost took us out and all that could have been wiped away but right now I’m super-duper grateful that we can continue the legacy and continue to help other people. Like I said, it’s in the name, we lift up souls and get them closer to God, that’s all it is.”
Interested students can look forward to the group’s Campus Connect events every third Wednesday and the next Soul Lifters Week coming up on the third week of April. Basic information on the group can be found on OrgLink and updates are available on their social media pages.
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