U-C: What I See

Monday, January 31, 2005

A week with youth and young adults


It's been a busy week, with visits to Shreveport, Norman, Tulsa, Dallas, Waco, Longview, and Sherman. Later tonight I'm off to Mission Presbytery for six more days of itineration in South Texas. I'm grateful to everyone who works hard to put my visits together.

Here are a few quick notes about great things going on this week with teenagers and young adults.

1. First, check out this link to a new website created by my friends Nathan Ballantine, Patricia Massey and Tyler Ward. http://www.pcusamovement.org/index.php Nathan and Patricia are national co-moderators of the Presbyterian Youth Connection. Tyler is on the Committee on the General Assembly. All three are college students.

2. I spent the weekend with 750 teenagers from the Grace Presbytery (think Dallas Ft. Worth and a circle 150 miles south and east, and a little less to the north and west). This event was amazing! It's planned and carried out almost entirely by teenagers and young adults, and it's been held 26 of the last 28 years. They started with about 75 teenagers and adults, and this year the count was over 900 total. It's really something to see that many teenagers enthusiastic about living their faith.

3. I was at the largest Presbyterian University in the country last week, which is Tulsa University. I met with the Presbyterian Leaders and Scholars - about 60 students who are pumped up and who are meeting weekly to do fellowship activities, community outreach and the like. This is a great school, and the students were very cool. The chaplain there is a great guy named Jeff Frances.

4. At Austin College, which is in Sherman about 60 miles north of Dallas, I got to know the Activators. This is a group of about 80 students who are trained to lead youth conferences and events. There's a group of them on the road almost every weekend leading retreats and lock-ins all over the Presbytery, and increasingly, all over the region and the country. They are largely responsible for the leadership of the Senior High Youth Connection event that I was with there on campus this weekend. If you think your Presbytery or church might be up for something similar, be in touch with the chaplain/director of religous life John Williams at Austin College.

These two chaplains share a commitment to empowering and equipping college students to provide leadership on campus, in the church and in the world. Their students are extremely loyal, and I find their alumni in leadership positions everywhere I go.

In a couple of weeks, I'll be visiting about a dozen Presbyterian Schools in North Carolina and Tennesee and Kentucky.

Nathan, Patricia and Tyler have it right. There's a lot to be excited about in the PCUSA. Wish you all could be doing these visits with me.