From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Celebrate event weaves diverse students together

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Wed, 15 Jan 2003 14:49:52 -0600

Jan. 15, 2003 News media contact: Kathy Gilbert7(615)742-54707Nashville,
Tenn.	10-34-71BPI{019}

NOTE: Photographs are available with this story.

By Pamela Crosby*

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (UMNS) - More than 1,100 students and 200 campus ministers
and chaplains rang in the new year at Celebrate, an ecumenical gathering for
young adults to pray, worship, play and learn. 

Participants had opportunities to appreciate the similarities and differences
in their faith journeys through Bible study, workshops, storytelling,
liturgy, "global voices," small-group discussions, creative caucuses and
cultural celebrations.

The theme, "Weave Us Together," evoked the mixed cultures of the Southwest,
and participants were invited from "all points on the compass to be woven
together in a new spiritual community." They came from around the world -
Africa, Asia and the Pacific Rim, Europe, Latin America, North America and
the Middle East.

"Celebrate is an opportunity to learn about our Christian heritage and how
diverse it is," said Victor Leon Franklin Jr., chairperson for the United
Methodist Student Movement steering committee. "I'm glad that we're here in
Albuquerque because of the Native American and Latino communities represented
here. To be exposed to that and to talk with these persons about their
history, culture and traditions is a blessing."
The Council for Ecumenical Student Christian Ministry and the National
Catholic Student Coalition sponsors the event, held every four years. The
Council for Ecumenical Student Christian Ministry is a partnership of
students and national higher educational denominational staff from the
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church
of Christ and the United Methodist Church.
The Dec. 28-Jan. 1 gathering, held at the Albuquerque Convention Center,
opened with worship featuring Native American chants and drums. Episcopal
Bishop Wendell Gibbs quoted Jesus' prayer that you "may all be one: as you,
Father, are in me and I am in you..." (John 17:21, NRSV)

Students were encouraged to attend one of eight denominational worship
services on Sunday morning, and contributions from each were received for
Habitat for Humanity. United Methodist students met as part of the
Pan-Methodist communion, along with members of the African Methodist
Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and the
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. 

Speakers included Millard Fuller, founder and president of Habitat for
Humanity International, a nondenominational housing ministry. Because
students wonder how to know what God wants them to do in a world of so many
needs, Fuller encouraged them to "open yourselves up to God."

"Extend your spiritual antennas," he said. "God is broadcasting." 

Participants heard a panel of "Global Voices," students and international
guests from the World Student Christian Federation who shared their
worldviews and discussed student life. They included students from Denmark,
Pakistan, Lebanon, and Ecuador who discussed HIV/AIDS, gender equality,
violence and racism, and globalization. 

Co-chair people of the Council for Ecumenical Student Christian Ministry's
Celebrate planning committee were Glen Sears, a United Methodist and student
at the University of Kansas, and Michelle Colby, a student at the University
of Maryland-College Park and the current chairwoman of the National Catholic
Student Coalition. 

"The challenge is to allow all the voices to be heard," Sears said. "You've
got more things to contrast against. But the beautiful thing is when you turn
it over to God; that's when it finally comes together, and ... we see a
common ground, a common vision." 

# # #

*Crosby is assistant editor and writer for the Office of Interpretation,
Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Nashville, Tenn. 

United Methodist News Service
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