Forum examines faith, ecumenical work and justice
|A UMNS photo by Vicki Brown
Student Forum 2006 delegates plant more than 200 trees for the Adrian (Mich.) Parks and Recreation.
June 1, 2006
Forum 2006 delegates plant more than 200 trees for the Adrian (Mich.)
Parks and Recreation during one of the many service projects offered at
the May 25-28 leadership development event at Adrian College. More than
350 United Methodist students worshipped together, attended workshops on
various topics and approved six resolutions to be presented at the 2008
General Conference. The event was sponsored by the United Methodist
Board of Higher Education and Ministry and organized by the United
Methodist Student Movement. A UMNS photo by Vicki Brown. Photo #06-602.
Accompanies UMNS story #321. 6/1/06|
By Vicki Brown*
ADRIAN, Mich. (UMNS) — Adrian College’s ties to the Underground Railroad
and the abolitionist movement, along with issues such as prejudice on campus,
homosexuality and the United Methodist Church, and interfaith work, were among
the subjects addressed in workshops at Student Forum 2006.
The Rev. Chris Momany, college chaplain, led a workshop about Adrian
College’s ties to the Underground Railroad and rights for women. The
school’s first president was abolitionist Asa Mahan. Mahan, as a trustee
at Lane Theological Seminary near Cincinnati, supported students who
left Lane to take up antislavery work. Later, as president of Oberlin
College, he was the driving force behind Oberlin’s early support of
human rights, Momany said.
Mahan brought many abolitionists to Adrian, including the Rev. Luther
Lee, who was pastor of the church in Seneca Falls, N.Y., where the
first women’s rights convention was held.
Kimberly Davis, founder and director of the Underground Railroad Education
Program at Adrian, told the students that the town was a center for the Underground
Railroad in Michigan, helping to smuggle many fleeing slaves to Canada and
Some workshops dealt with faith issues, such as “Fish, Fishers, and
Fishnets — Being Caught by Faith,” and “Spiritual Practices
and College Life,” while others dealt with modern social justice issues,
such as “Interfaith Dynamics on Campus and in the World.”
“If we love God and we love our neighbor, we are called into interfaith
work,” said the Rev. Jeanne Smith, director of the Wesley Foundation
at the University of Cincinnati. “Any interfaith dialogue has to start
with understanding and respect, not, ?I’ve got the truth, and let
me share it with you.’”
Christ moved through the world talking and eating with the people, she said,
adding that food is still a great focus for gathering and communicating. She
noted that Christ went to people rather than sitting and waiting for them to
come to him.
But she warned students that those of other faiths will have some misconceptions
about Christianity. She recalled being asked why she was a cannibal.
“When they hear about eating the body and blood of Christ, think about
how that sounds. Think about what it would take to walk into a house where
people eat the body and blood of someone,” she said.
Crystal Blade, a student at Eastern Washington
University, attended a workshop about student-led fund raising that she said “demystified” fund
raising for her.
Tommy Seawright, a Texas Tech student, said he was impressed with the civility
of the workshop on homosexuality, attended by about 20 people. Although most
of those attending the workshop supported ordination of gay ministers and he
does not, Seawright said he felt his opinions were heard and no one belittled
what he said.
He said the leader of the workshop, Chad Johns,
presented information about the United Methodist Church and homosexuality
in a “matter-of-fact,
Students liked workshops with a lot of discussion,
such as “Ism My Ism ? Prejudice
at Your College and in the World” and “Women of Faith and Power.”
Alissa Cox, Eastern Washington University, said about 15 people attended the
prejudice workshop. She said David Moreno, director of the United Methodist
Campus Ministry at the University of Texas-Pan American, challenged the students
and got them to think about and discuss discrimination.
After discussing justice issues, students put their muscle into it by helping
the city of Adrian on May 27. About 200 scattered to sites around the city
to perform service work.
One group planted about 200 trees for the Adrian Parks and Recreations, while
others picked up trash along Highway 52, and still another group painted at
a local charity. Others helped with yard work at a retirement center or worked
at a domestic violence shelter.
“Any time there is a retreat like this, you should make time to serve
the community,” said Anna Barrett, who was painting at Associated Charities.
*Brown is an associate editor and writer in the Office of Interpretation,
United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.