At a time when The United Methodist Church is facing unprecedented change and uncertainty, Exploration 2019 was a powerful reminder of just how many young leaders are willing to step up and steer the future of the Church.
"God is still calling and there are people who are still listening," said Rev. Dr. Trip Lowery, director of Vocational Discernment and Candidacy for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM).
Your support of The World Service Fund apportionment supports program-related general agencies, which are especially important to the common vision, mission, and ministry of The United Methodist Church.
On Nov. 1, 207 young adults arrived in Orlando, Florida to participate in Exploration 2019. GBHEM hosts the biennial event designed to help participants from ages 18-26 discern if God is calling them to ordained ministry in the Church. The weekend is filled with dynamic speakers, inspiring worship services, small group discussions and workshops related to life in ministry.
As part of the event's workshops, students had opportunities to meet with current clergy and lay ministry leaders and learn from their experiences. Topics included, "Mission and Social Justice," "Extension Ministry: Serving Beyond the Local Church," and "Diversity in Ministry: Embracing Holistic, Inclusive Community."
While many workshops focused on various aspects of ordained life, participants also learned about lay ministry. As part of the discernment process, Exploration leaders reminded them that there are many ways to answer God's call.
"If you're an accountant, if you're an artist, if you're a teacher, God needs you too," said Hannah Hanson, the director of Young Adult Mission Service for the General Board of Global Ministries. Hanson spoke at the worship service on the second day of Exploration and highlighted ways that participants might serve in ministry and mission outside a traditional setting.
When they arrived, each Exploration participant was given a copy of the discernment journal, "Listen. Discern. Respond. A Guide to Answering God's Invitation," to help them reflect on their call and the type of ministry that might suit them. The book, which was written by Rev. Dale Fredrickson and published by GBHEM, employs various exercises to help users better understand the unique path God has set before them. Frederickson led "Journaling Through Discernment" workshops to guide participants as they began to use the book.
"The journal is filled with ideas, prompts, quotes, challenging exercises and spiritual practices that help people listen, discern and respond to God's call in their lives.
In addition to practical advice and inspiration, Exploration offers an important connectional experience for its participants. They are able to form a network with other young people who are traveling through the same discernment process, identifying peers they can continue to talk to and lean on for support long after the weekend conference has ended.
Most of all, participants at Exploration are urged to use their voices and their gifts for the glory of God no matter what direction their call takes them.
excerpt from a story on the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry website
The World Service Fund provides basic financial support to program-related general agencies, which are especially important to the common vision, mission, and ministry of The United Methodist Church. Through World Service funding, agencies support annual conferences and local congregations in living out God's mission for the worldwide Church. General agencies also provide essential services and ministries beyond the scope of individual local congregations and annual conferences through services and ministries that are highly focused, flexible, and capable of rapid response.
Participants gather for worship at Exploration 2019.