Ten College Students to Represent the East District as Delegates
A record number of former and current Wesley Foundation students at Stephen F. Austin are heading to Annual Conference this summer to be active participants – many for the first time.
It was a surprising and memorable moment. A few years ago, three college student delegates representing the East District on behalf of the Wesley Foundation of Stephen F. Austin learned the impact young people can have on a Texas Annual Conference vote. Campus Ministry Director Rev. Tom Teekell recalls it was the year when attendees voted electronically. “Near the end, our students had already put up their voting devices when there was a call for one last vote,” he says. “I encouraged them to go get their device, saying we were going to all participate, and would you believe the vote passed by two votes? The vote would have gone the other way had the students not been there, and this made a very tangible story we could take back to the rest of the students to remind them that young adults matter greatly to this denomination and process.”
Flash forward to 2014 and Tom is thrilled to report he is poised to bring a record setting 10 students to Annual Conference this May. “I was talking to Stephanie Griffin, letting her know that I had several students interested in attending but that it was cost prohibitive,” adds Tom. “Before long, our District Superintendent Chuck Huffman called to say he was so committed to having young people there that he would make sure the East District would cover their costs.” An appeal to East District area churches landed thousands of dollars, allowing Tom to return to recruiting.
In no time, Tom had 10 SFA students expressing interest, five of whom are in various stages of candidacy for ordained ministry. Several of them share here what they are anticipating most.
Delegate and grad student Nathan Biggs is working on a master’s degree in counseling. Notes Nathan, “I am pursuing ordination as a deacon and so grateful to be able to have a voice as a Lay Delegate at this time. I think Annual Conference offers me a chance to help impact the Methodist Church, as well as learn, make connections and give the glory to God.”
Matt Cecil, a junior studying history, sees the May conference as a “wonderful way for young people to experience the connectional aspect of the UMC. Often young adults do not realize how their lives and actions influence people outside of their niche. I appreciate that aspect more and more as I have gotten older.”
“Part of the reason why I go to Annual Conference is to show the church as a whole that campus ministry has purpose beyond just keeping Methodist college students in the faith,” shares Ami Allison, a graduating senior with a BS in deaf education. “I am a person who did not grow up in any church, but found my faith at Wesley, so it has a second purpose: bringing new people to Christ.”
Lindsay Gunn is studying nursing and expecting to graduate next May. “Wesley has helped grow my faith,” shares Lindsay, “and Annual Conference will allow me to meet people through different ministries, particularly since I have a passion for missions.”
Cameron Losoya has attended Annual Conference since his CPIP internship 2011. “One of the most important things in anything sacred or secular is to have young people involved,” he says. “Several decades from now people of my generation will be holding high positions in the church. Beyond those years, people that are my current age will begin to look up to us, and so goes the cycle of life.”
Hearts Afire, the SFA Wesley Foundation praise team, led the music in the Wednesday morning worship service at Annual Conference in 2012, and they have been invited to return by the conference Lay Leader, Stephanie Griffin. This time they will be leading worship music at 10 am during the Meeting of the Laity on the Monday morning of Annual Conference and at 12:15 pm during the Laity Luncheon on Tuesday.