March 6, 2017
If every waiter is said to be an aspiring actor, might every barista somehow be a future campus minister?
Such was almost certainly the case at the College Conference at Montreat, where on January 4, some 30 campus ministers from across the country were served their morning coffee by a group of keenly interested and highly motivated seminary students.
The seven seminarians—hailing from Columbia, Princeton, and Louisville seminaries—were attending the conference as participants in a special Seminarian Track created in 2015 by the conference planning team at Montreat. The Rev. Dr. Jason Brian Santos, mission coordinator for Christian formation and national director of UKirk for the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA), was invited to host a group of seminarians interested in discerning a call to collegiate ministry.
The 2017 conference titled, “Beyond Babel,” based on Genesis 11:1-9—for which over 1,000 college students and their advisors gathered January 2–5—was designed to help participants see in the ancient biblical text “how God gave an ancient people a holy nudge towards diversity,” while challenging them to consider how God is similarly nudging God’s people today.
Attendees at the Jan. 4 gathering heard updates on the latest happenings in UKirk— the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s collegiate ministries network—from Santos and the Rev. Dr. Tammy Wiens, the PMA’s new associate for Christian Formation.
The seminarians paid careful attention.
“My primary focus is campus ministry,” said Sam Turpen of Birmingham, a first-year student at Columbia Seminary and an inquirer under care of the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley. “At first I wanted to be a career counselor on a college campus, but then it transformed into something different. I’ve been interested in college work for a long time. I think campuses are formative places for change.”
Santos said that a few of the seminarians—including Leigh DeVries, a student at Princeton Seminary—are given the opportunity to teach workshops, while others help with different aspects of the conference, such as registration.
“My hope is that the track will help seminarians discern early on if collegiate ministry is a good fit for them,” Santos said, “and begin shaping how they think about this type of ministry.”
Emily Enders Odom, mission communications strategist
Today’s Focus: College Conference at Montreat
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Mission Co-workers
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus Christ, give us eyes that see your world as you see it. Then move us to serve and love your world in word and deed, just as you love us and indeed all of your world. Amen.