EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Singing “Now we’ll overcome all divisions and darkness by lighting our way,” more than 275 United Methodist students and campus ministry leaders from across the United States opened the 2011 United Methodist Student Forum May 26. The campus ministry of United Methodist-related University of Evansville hosted the four-day event during the Memorial Day weekend.
The hymn was written specifically for the forum, a national leadership development event for young adult college and university students. DeLyn Celec, worship arts coordinator of Shenandoah University, Winchester, Va., a United Methodist-related institution, led the hymn.
Continuing with the forum theme “God is Calling… Will You Answer,” the Rev. Motoe Yamada, told the students and campus ministers, “God chose you to be here. You said yes to God to be here… Life is not about you. Life’s about Jesus Christ. Not about me or them, but God’s calling?”
Yamada serves as senior pastor of the Sacramento (Calif.) Japanese United Methodist Church (www.sacjumc.org).
Basing her sermon on 2 Corinthians 4:5-6, she asked her listeners whether people can see their light? – meaning “seeing life centered in Jesus Christ because life’s about Jesus Christ.”
She reminded them their calling is not always a wonderful thing, “Sometimes, it’s challenging, even scary. Remember, Jesus is with you when you say ‘yes’.”
She then shared how God called her to go to Japan after the tsunami to assist in any way she could. “Sometimes answering the call means sleeping on floors, not knowing what types of food you will be eating,” she said.
“Are you willing to share the light with others? Is God calling you to do something?” she asked.
Worship closed with participants arm-in-arm singing “Here I am, Lord.” This was one of six worship or devotional times during the four-day meeting.
The Rev. Meg Lassiat, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s director of Candidacy, Mentoring, and Conference Relations and member of the Indiana Conference, said one of the most exciting parts of this year’s Forum was the chance to Skype with a United Methodist Student Movement Steering Committee member, Shelton Berry, who is currently serving in the Air Force and working as an assistant chaplain in Kyrgyzstan. Chaplain Harold B. Owens, Lt. Col. USAF, provided a homily during the Saturday evening worship service and Berry introduced the evening’s guest preacher.
“Being able to connect across the globe and share in the excitement of seeing and hearing Berry and Owens was an inspirational moment and a highlight of my work with the United Methodist Student Movement,” said Lassiat.
The Student Forum of the United Methodist Student Movement focuses on:
- Worship and social justice advocacy,
- Leadership training for campus ministry and
- Networking and developing legislation for General Conference.
More than 180 college and university students and 95 chaplains, campus ministers and other professionals related to campus ministry attended the May 26-29 forum sponsored by the GBHEM, Campus Ministry section based in Nashville, Tenn.
The event was planned by a 21-member steering committee chaired by Nickie Moreno, a student at Wesley Seminary in Washington, D.C. “Retreat at Forum,” an event for chaplains and campus ministers, is held in conjunction with the student event.
“This year’s Forum provided students with the chance to draft, debate and vote on legislation that the participating delegates have supported for General Conference 2012. As students learn leadership skills and develop ways to affect the life of the denomination, the Student Forum is an important place for participants to have an active voice and effect on the legislation that will be presented to the next General Conference,” Lassiat said.
The legislative session is composed of student delegates from each annual conference of The United Methodist Church. Each conference can send an unlimited number of students to the forum, but only three are voting delegates and six are alternate delegates.
This year delegates considered six petitions to the 2012 General Conference, the top legislative body of The United Methodist Church, meeting next year in Tampa, Fla. Petitions included one on bullying, others on the Reconciling Student Movement, human sexuality, the need for a statement on human sexuality in the Social Principles of the church and equal rights regardless of gender identification. Saturday was spent in legislation sessions.
The Methodist Student Movement was formed at a conference held in St. Louis in December 1937. Two years later, The Methodist Church established The Methodist Student Movement which met every four years.
At the May 1996 Student Forum at United Methodist-related Oklahoma City University, delegates created the new United Methodist Student Forum.