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Imagine What’s NEXT Conference to be Rescheduled and Adapted to Meet the Evolving Needs of College Students

Danecia Jones
May 17, 2018

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The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, today announced its efforts to adopt a new model for the Imagine What’s Next Conference, a longstanding biennial event.

GBHEM recently shared its work to transition to a leadership development and spiritual formation center for the denomination through CONNECT ANEW. To complete the transition, the agency is evaluating and exploring its structure, programming, services and events to ensure the best position for future service to the church. Exploring a new model for NEXT is another example of the agency’s commitment to provide relevant, meaningful and effective resources for leadership development across the denomination.

NEXT historically served college students, campus ministers and church leaders through three days of inspirational presentations, roundtable discussions, community service and fellowship among attendees.

“NEXT has been a key program of GBHEM for many years. We have seen young lives impacted as they explore various vocations inside and outside of the church through this conference,” said Rev. Dr. Kim Cape, general secretary, GBHEM. “Our church is evolving, college campuses are evolving, the world is evolving. We want to position the resources of the agency to meet these changing needs of students and the future leaders of the church.”

While NEXT undergoes its transformation, GBHEM will continue supporting collegiate ministries across the Connection through other resources and activities. Ministry resources will remain available to students through the NEXT website. Campus ministers and chaplains will be among those invited to join a larger conversation held November 9-11, 2018 in Orlando that will include leaders from various settings who work with students. The conversation’s focus will be how youth and young adults are gathering, communicating, discerning vocation, connecting their faith with their work, and how we can be a positive presence in their lives. Registration will be available soon. 

“Our focus in creating a new model for NEXT is to directly respond to the evolving needs of students. The collegiate landscape is changing so we must change. We are helping to develop the leaders of tomorrow and the new model for NEXT will provide an organic and contextually relevant experience for students,” said Mark Hanshaw, Ph.D., J.D., associate general secretary, Division of Higher Education at GBHEM. “We remain dedicated to college students, and those who work with them, providing the resources they need to grow into difference makers. Many of these young people are already making a difference through their service. The overhauled NEXT conference will be even more effective in helping complete this valuable work for the continued growth of The United Methodist Church."

The agency will share the new date and updates on the transition of the NEXT conference as they become available. For questions, contact next@gbhem.org.

About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to build capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development and spiritual formation. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call in their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.