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Higher Education Celebrated at General Conference 2012

Melanie Overton
August 14, 2012
Isaac Broune
Isaac Broune speaking about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's connection to UM schools. Photo by Joseph McBrayer.

General Conference, The United Methodist Church’s quadrennial legislative meeting, provided a chance to celebrate how United Methodist-related educational institutions are shaping the faith, vocations, and commitments of students at more than 700 institutions around the world.

Testimonials from many students and former students were  highlighted during a plenary presentation about UM higher education and during Higher Education Night, a ministry fair and dinner held during the April 24-May 4 meeting.

Amanda Price, a sophomore religious studies and biology major at Centenary College of Louisiana articulates well the type of faith formation and vocational discernment our students experience. “Centenary College of Louisiana and its Christian Leadership Center have provided perfect venues for me to listen more intently to my call, ponder and ask exploring questions, and then live who I am called to be as a Christian,” she said.

The Rev. Rosario Picardo , a Doctor of Ministry student atUnited Theological Seminary and a church planter in the Kentucky Annual Conference,  finds that his doctoral studies “refresh me, and I am energized when I go back to my ministry.”

Dr. Paul Farmer, founding director of Partners In Health (PIH), also found his life’s vocation and commitments were shaped by United Methodist-related education:

“…I think that if I had to choose one event that most marked my life—for the better—it would be my letter of acceptance from Duke University. Sometime in early 1978, I knew that I wanted to be a doctor, but had no idea why. I knew I was interested in the broad world beyond my small hometown in Florida, but was again unsure why. And it was in the classrooms of Duke University that I awakened intellectually, ethically, and politically. By 1980,I decided that I wanted to be a physician and an anthropologist. The year after that, I decided that I wanted to go to Haiti, and by the time I graduated in 1982, I was lucky enough to be on the trajectory that I still find so compelling. Duke, and a liberal arts education, set me on the path I still follow today as a physician and teacher and activist. ”

Ilunga Kazembe, a 2011 graduate of Kamina Methodist University, shares a powerful testimony that his university “…came to the rescue of people like me and several young men and women who had only one choice – that of joining some militia groups . Today, I have become an agent of peace for my community and inspiration for many young men and women in Kamina.  I thank the people called United Methodists."

While their stories are quite different, the common thread is this:The opportunity to attend a United Methodist-related educational institution has fundamentally changed their life trajectories, deepening faith, solidifying vocation, and inspiring acts of justice and mercy that are transforming the world. Thanks be to God.

Melanie Overton Signature

Melanie B. Overton, Ed.D.Assistant General Secretary – Schools, Colleges, and Universities

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