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Campus Ministry Conference

By Kayla Parker

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This July the National Campus Ministry Association (NCMA) is hosting it's annual conference. This conference is for professional campus ministry leaders,  those who hope to become one, and dedicated lay campus ministry leaders. It will give us as Unitarian Universalists (UUs) an opportunity to gather as a group of UUs in campus ministry, meet with leaders from other denominations, and hear from Brian McLaren, a leader in the emerging church movement. The conference begins on Tuesday, July 9th with a "Sexuality Toolkit for Campus Ministers" workshop led by our own Melanie Davis, Our Whole Lives (OWL) Program Associate. It will conclude in the evening on Friday, July 12th and registration is open and rolling. If you register before June 1st you will even receive a $25 discount on the registration cost. The conference is held at Agnes Scott College, a women's college in Decatur, GA right outside of Atlanta. In addition to being so near a major city with many exciting destinations, Decatur itself is a destination in itself. Last weekend I was talking to some recently engaged friends who grew up and fell in love in Decatur. I told them I was headed there and they wouldn't stop talking about all the cool sites, restaurants, bars, museums and parks when I told them I was going. Decatur is also the perfect place for the conference's topic "Multi-Faith is the NEW Ecumenical: Authentic Ministry in the 21st Century". According to Wikipedia, in 2000 Decatur's official motto changed from "A city of homes, schools", and to "A city of homes, schools and places of worship." The move this city made in such an open and public way is a model for the goal of this conference, and the nimble nature we all must accept in today's religious landscape and in our ministries on ever-changing college campuses. As Unitarian Universalists, from a denomination have moved outside of Christianity, we bring a unique and important voice to this conversation of ecumenical to interfaith. I look forward to this discussion, and having many of you present with me. Brian McLaren will  provide much of the brain food we'll be chewing on for this conversation, and is the ideal person for the job. Brian is a leader in the emerging church movement, writing on postmodern Christianity, and most recently on existing in a postmodern and multi-religious world in his 2012 book Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Brian has been an incredible leader in the Christian Evangelical world and beyond helping, his communities become relevant and effect today. What can we as Unitarian Universalists learn from him and this conversation occurring amongst evangelicals, mainline protestant denominations and our own denomination in the form of Congregations & Beyond? We will have an ingathering amongst our own selves as Unitarian Universalists on this topic and the unique opportunities and challenges our faith tradition has today. How can our more flexible ministries on college campuses lead our denomination; what are we already doing and what can we continue to do? We will also of course be discussing logistical support we can be providing one another and visioning for the future of UU campus ministry. There will also be break-out groups on topics participants choose, and larger conversations with all conference participants. This is a wonderful opportunity to discuss challenges and share successes amongst a much larger group of colleagues than we would have normally been able to have amongst our own UU group. This conference enables us to have our own denominational conversation, and also engage with our peers and colleagues from other denominations and learn from their similar and divergent struggles and successes. Register today for the conference "Multi-Faith is the NEW Ecumenical: Authentic Ministry in the 21st Century", and for the pre-conference training "Sexuality Toolkit for Campus Ministers" - and if you register by June 1st you get $25 off registration cost! Scholarships are also available through NCMA, and information for these is available on their registration page.