From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Students commit to leadership in denomination
Wed, 4 Jun 2003 14:43:05 -0500
June 4, 2003 News media contact: Linda Green7(615)742-54707Nashville, Tenn.
NOTE: Photographs and two sidebars, UMNS stories #310 and #311 are available.
By Pamela Crosby*
READING, Pa. (UMNS) - Gathering for their annual Student Forum, nearly 300
young United Methodists committed themselves to taking the church to a new
level in service, leadership and worship.
The students, from colleges and universities around the world, met May 22-25
on the campus of United Methodist-related Albright College to talk about "The
Road Less Traveled." The Student Forum, held by the United Methodist Student
Movement, is the only annual national gathering of young people in the
denomination. For college students serious about their role in the church, it
is the place where their voices are heard.
"This road less traveled is a real thing," said Bishop Warner Brown, who
leads the church's Denver Area. He asked the participants if they knew
someone who had no experience or affiliation with a church. "Many we know
have not walked down the road that brings us to a place where we are in the
company of those who are seeking to live into bonds of baptism, to let the
God of our salvation shape, transform and heal our lives."
Brown challenged the students to be the leaders God calls them to be and to
remember that they are called to walk the road less traveled.
Workshops expanded the themes of leadership, discerning God's call, creating
and keeping a strong campus ministry, and living globally.
Tamara Walker, executive secretary for youth and young adults at the United
Methodist Board of Global Ministries, led the session on "Being a Global
Christian." She challenged the students to address the tough issues in the
"We know how to go over and paint a house or build a church," she said. "When
it comes to things that are harder, like asking why it is that people are
homeless or questioning why global economic structures work as they do, in
that sense, being a global Christian isn't that easy."
Despite rain, the students participated in a variety of community service
opportunities in Reading. They assisted in the reorganization and inventory
of Central Park United Methodist Church's clothing ministry and kitchen
cupboard. Others collated an annual conference newsletter and participated in
a neighborhood cleanup project.
The young people collected funds to benefit the student movement in Sierra
Leone. Participants were asked to bring an offering from their campus
ministry, community or local church designated for the movement's mission
A major part of the four-day forum was spent wrestling with 18 proposed
resolutions. Only two, endorsing the Shared Mission Focus on Young People
initiative and reaffirming pan-Methodist cooperation, received the necessary
two-thirds majority vote.
"We know there are a lot of opinions of students from across the globe
represented here," said Christina Wright, a member of the student movement
legislative committee and a senior in learning and organizational change at
Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. "Our goal is to focus on the
experience, not necessarily the outcome of the issues."
This Student Forum was the last for Leon Franklin, who served as the steering
committee chairperson for the past year and has participated in the student
movement for six years. He is a student at Gammon Theological Seminary in
"In a very personal way, the UMSM and steering committee experience helped me
to find my voice as a leader, but most importantly as a Christian," Franklin
said. "We are supposed to be a 'new generation of Christian leaders,' and I
believe God is preparing such leaders through the UMSM."
Wright has succeeded Franklin as the United Methodist Student Movement
chairperson for 2003-04. The steering committee's goal this year is "to
continue to define what it is that we want from the UMSM," she said.
"Student Forum breeds such leadership in our students that they go back and
are reinvigorated with ways to create successful campus ministries," she
said. "And those campus ministries further develop leadership qualities,
whether to ordained ministry or other areas of the church. This is such an
important area where students need to grow. We will foster and support that
in whatever way we can."
The student movement provides a venue for college students who are passionate
about their faith and Methodism to find a place within the church, claim
their voice as young adults and develop their leadership gifts, according to
the Rev. Hal Hartley. He is staff adviser for the student movement and
director of student ministries in the United Methodist Board of Higher
Education and Ministry's Campus Ministry Section.
Two students from each of the church's five U.S. jurisdictions are chosen to
serve alternating two-year terms on the steering committee.
Members for 2003-04 are:
Karl Kroger, Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell, S.D.
Laura McDowell, Ohio State University, Columbus.
David Pasco, Houghton (N.Y.) College.
Crystal Grant, Howard University, Washington.
Daniel Harris, University of North Texas, Lewisville.
Derrick Hurst, Cameron University, Lawton, Okla.
Cedric Fleming, Rust College, Holly Springs, Miss.
Terrill Williams, Eastern Carolina University, Greenville, N.C.
Brad Airsick, University of Colorado, Boulder.
Christopher Koontz, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
Five appointed/at-large members are:
Lupe Mauro, University of Alaska, Anchorage.
Sima Fine, Hawaii Pacific University, Waimanalo.
Jefferson Forted, Rust College, Holly Springs, Miss.
Diorama Valhalla, Lafayette College, Easton, Pa.
Ana Kelsey-Powell, North Central College, Naperville, Ill.
# # #
*Crosby is assistant editor and writer for the Office of Interpretation at
the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry in Nashville,
United Methodist News Service
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