Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Some Changes at SC

Well, it has often been said that change is inevitable, and we find that to be true at Southwestern College. After 14 wonderful years as the Campus Minister and Chair of the Philosophy and Religion department, Steve Rankin has felt the call of God to minister in another community. As of July 1, he has accepted an invitation to become the Chaplain at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. We are certainly sad to see him leave Southwestern, as his ministry is keenly felt on campus at this time. I was a sophomore the year that Steve started at SC, which means that during my freshmen year we were absent a Campus Minister. The impact that he made, even in the next 3 years, was significant. He redesigned chapel involving student worship teams. He started Discipleship Southwestern, a program that has now involved over 150 students (and of which I am currently the director). He nurtured the call to ministry in a number of students (including myself). And he poured his life into his students. In the 11 years since, he has continued on that initial impact in incredible ways. I have been honored to join him in the work at SC during the last four years. Keeping up with him is at times dizzying, but always significant. I cannot begin to express the impact that Steve has made on my own life and on the lives of many other students in the last 14 years.

Steve will be significantly missed on campus, but, as has been his goal, he is about the work of the Kingdom of God. He has simply chosen to be obedient to that goal through another arm of the United Methodist Church. While I'm sad for us at SC, I'm very excited for him and for SMU! I believe that he will make an impact for Christ in that community as well! Here is his take on the move. Please join me in praying for Steve and his family as they all adjust to life outside of Winfield.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A Call to Prayer

I have always been a strong believer that prayer "works." I remember as a child, praying nightly the same memorized prayer that my sister and I "developed," including a prayer for all of our family and friends by name and also a prayer for the "whole wide world except for the bad people." Well, my prayer may not have been theologically coherent, but the intention was pure--by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, to present my requests before God. I remember that understanding growing as I learned different ways to pray, through journaling, through reading Scripture, in groups and alone. I also grew deeper in my faith as I read Richard Foster's book Prayer and Bill Hybel's book Too Busy Not to Pray. I read of believers across time who have prayed and then the impossible became possible, such as Peter's miraculous release from prison in Acts 12, even when the church who prayed for him so fervently didn't believe it when he was released! Prayer is a means of connection to God, but also has become a lifeline to me, as through prayer I have experienced God's love, the love of community, and even sometimes the challenge of being corrected. That's why this is so important.

Starting on May 18, a prayer effort for 40 days will be beginning. It is not an "official" action by any group, but rather a response by some folks to an Open Letter that was posted by Ben Simpson. The result of the Open Letter is a prayer campaign that has involved clergy, young and not-so-young alike, who are interested in lifting the UMC up in prayer in an intentional way. The hopes for the prayer effort include a sense of witness of the work of Christ in our lives individually and also in the UMC. Would you be willing to pray with us?

You can find the prayers here. They are being hosted on the UMC Young Clergy website that has just been officially launched! I do hope that you'll join me in prayer.