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Youth Nexus Brings Students Together for Theological Training

Youth Nexus students downtown

CHICAGO, IL (July 16, 2008) Last week students descended on North Park University’s campus from six different conferences of the Evangelical Covenant Church to take part in this year’s Youth Nexus program. The program is a part of the Making Connections Initiative which strives to strengthen connections between North Park Theological Seminary and Evangelical Covenant Churches. The program is funded by a Lilly grant and seeks to help develop a “Culture of Call” in the lives of youth across the denomination, as well as expose them and their youth leaders to theological thinking and experiential learning. The program is staffed by seminary students as counselors and support staff and the teaching and discussion times are led by both Seminary and University Faculty.

This year, students gathered from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, Nebraska and California. However, the participants were not only from different regions. This intentionally diverse group included people from at least 6 different ethnic backgrounds as well. This diversity in socio-economic, cultural and regional backgrounds sets the stage every year for some great conversations as each participant brings their own lenses through which they view life and important issues.

Each day the group shared in a time of spiritual formation which ranged from worship, to using the arts to understand themselves in relation to others, to seeing the big picture of who was a part of God’s kingdom here on earth. A time of theological discussion around important issues followed each day, as participants wrestled together by challenging their own preconceptions. On one particularly poignant day, the focus was on race and immigration. Participants were struck by the way in which opportunities had shaped their position in life and how the lack of these same opportunities made for some very different circumstances for others. Another important aspect of this day was struggling with the many-faceted sides of the immigration issue. Students were able to hear from activists within the organized church who were trying to make a difference in determining what is and is not “just” related to this important issue.

Each afternoon held an activity related to the topic of the day, to help bring theology to the everyday.

In the evening, participants were able to sample some of the great aspects of living in the world class city of Chicago. From dinner on the great lawn at Pritzker Pavilion while listening to classical music, to taking in the sights and sounds of Navy Pier, the Magnificent Mile and a great Wendella Boat Ride, to theatre and museums, there was something for everyone to see and experience.

At the end of the week, participants were looking forward to sleep after a pretty amazing adventure. Next year’s program is scheduled for the end of June on the North Park University campus.

For more information, visit the official Youth Nexus website.