For the closing of the SLA summer session, youth and young adults donated their time to engage with the local community by serving as the hands and feet of God as they cleaned the backyard of an east side homeowner. In the sweltering heat and discouraging humidity, the teens appeared surprisingly upbeat and determined as they chopped down weeds, cleaned away unsightly shrubs and branches cluttering the one-story home and detached vines that were coiled along the chain-link fence.
Mary, the homeowner was overjoyed when welcoming the crew into her home for shade and conversation. She was incredibly cheerful to have such well-mannered guests, who showed a genuine interest in getting to learn more about her story, and likewise, getting to know more about their experience back at the U of I campus, and hearing about their goals and aspirations. She especially enjoyed sharing some of the funny poems she had learned in school and being reciprocated with laughter from her young audience.
“While we’re trying to discover and discern our calling it’s also great to get students and student leaders involved in actually serving the community, not only in the church, because we’re modeling what Jesus had to say in that it’s more service to the people than anything else,” shared Jamarcus, a student at U of I who is passionate about the serving the community and being a voice for the vulnerable.
In the past, Student Leadership Academy has been organized as a three-day weekend retreat, where students would get to delve into an introspective experience, with workshops and classes that begged the question, “Who does God want me to be?” Through the summer program, students are not only able to pursue God’s call, but they’re also able to pursue pragmatic changes in their community and are able to gain a sense of spiritual and pragmatic leadership skills which they can apply in their calling.
“We spend a little time exploring not only what does it mean to discover your vocation, but what does it mean to live that out as a minister for Christ, if you are not working within ministry as your vocation, but allowing them to understand that everyone is called to be a ministry of Jesus,” says Emily Krach, who is transitioning into her new role as the Associate Director of Leadership Development — Emerging Leaders, and has gotten to spend a generous amount of time getting to know and relate to the youth of SLA.
Student Leadership Academy Fall Session begins in November. Learn more by visiting www.inumc.org/sla