“We learn about God’s path for us through the courses we take at Mission u,” says Barbara Drake, former president of United Methodist Women in the Eastern PA Conference.
She has been attending the annual discipleship academy for about 40 years. She first learned about its predecessor School of Christian Mission while in high school, when her mother served as its dean (1957-58). It’s where she and countless other women and men across the nation come to learn about serving Christ through spiritual and social engagement in mission “for the transformation of the world.”
Drake served as Dean of the Eastern PA Conference’s 2016 Mission u, in Reading, Pa., July 22-23. They welcomed 91 students from 47 churches, including 19 first-timers and a number of youth. In addition to worship, hymn-singing, fellowship and a ceremonial love feast, they attended courses in:
Latin America, a comprehensive study taught by the Rev. Roger Velasquez, a pastor and Duke University chaplain from Nicaragua;
Climate Justice, about protecting and sharing God’s creation, taught by scientist and “eco-warrior” Linda Elam Young and the Rev. David Norris, a mission volunteer and summer camp director for grandparents and kids; and
The Bible and Human Sexuality, a spiritual exploration of these two intersecting topics with which our church grapples today, led Dr. Esther Barkat, a retired U.S. school psychologist, child therapist and psychology professor born in Pakistan.
In their evaluations students lauded the instructors for opening their eyes to broader and deeper understandings of these topics and for inspiring them to make commitments to seek truth and change in their lives and in their communities. The assembly also raised $1,822 in an offering for the UMW Pledge to Mission.