College Students Enjoy Exploration 2013
Micheal Dickens, a senior at the University of Texas at Tyler went home spiritually renewed at the conclusion of Exploration 2013 in Denver. Exploring his call to be an elder, Micheal is looking at several options for seminary in 2014. “I was expecting to go and just have a lot of fun, and get some helpful information,” he admits, “so I was definitely surprised to get so much more out of it! I felt spirit-filled, loved, accepted, cherished, and valued – a feeling that as a college student, I don’t feel too often.”
More than a dozen college students from the Texas Annual Conference joined hundreds of other students from all over the nation at the recent Exploration 2013 conference in Denver. The event, sponsored by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, is held every two years and is designed to help young people discern their call to ministry in the United Methodist Church.
This year’s conference featured dynamic speakers including Rev. Jorge Acevedo, Rev. Dr. Beth LaRocca-Pitts, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey and Rev. Eric Huffman. According to Rev. Michelle Hall, TAC Associate Director of Clergy Excellence, the conference had powerful music led by a worship team from the TAC, engaging workshops and lots of opportunities for students to pray and reflect. United Methodist boards, organizations and seminaries were also on hand to provide information on service and educational prospects for young adults.
Perhaps one of the most powerful moments of the conference was the Saturday night worship service. Harvey preached a message about how God is big enough and the congregation kept the musicians playing long into the night as they sang and came forward en mass to pray.
Anjelita Dirden, campus minister and director of the Wesley Foundation at Lamar University, said she could sense God’s movement in the service. “Prayers had saturated the worship space and the Holy Spirit was welcomed to do what only the Spirit of God can do, touch hearts and minds,” she shares. “I experienced such an incredible sense of God working in ways that I could never describe, but when the young adults begin to respond to the invitation to pray and to bring their call cards forward, I knew that there had been a miraculous shift. It was a very holy and spiritual moment.”
Teresa Welch, a freshman at Tyler Junior College and the president of the Methodist dormitory, Wesley House, said she felt God’s presence in a powerful way throughout the conference. “This conference was more focused on helping us make a decision (for ministry) than say church camp or some other church conferences,” Teresa says. “It helped me decide what I want to do in the future – be a missionary nurse.”
She said she particularly liked the many workshops offered. Those workshops had a variety of topics from navigating the ordination process to being a United Methodist to changing the world.
Chris Wiggs, who attends the University of Houston, said he found the information provided at Exploration 2013 extremely helpful. “My greatest takeaway came from the Seminary Fair when I talked with Boston University about what I hope to do in the future, which is to use my civil and environmental engineering degree to help in any way I can to provide people around the world with access to clean drinking water,” he says. “They opened my eyes to the type of education I could get with a Masters of Divinity with a focus on missions. I do not know if this is the path I would ultimately take or if it's the path God is calling me to, but I am at the very least more informed so that I can make the best decision when the time comes.”
All of the students said they had a positive experience at Exploration 2013 and would recommend the conference to others. “If you feel God’s pull on your heart to serve him, you’re in college, and the weight of this world has pulled you down, go to Exploration next year and you will be made new!” adds Micheal.