By Lora Andrews, MDiv3
The United Methodist Student Association (UMSA) provides opportunities for spiritual formation at VDS as well as for interaction with the wider United Methodist connection. One way we live out this mission is through our monthly luncheons. On the third Wednesday of each month, the UMSA gathers at noon in the reading room for a luncheon that centers around a particular topic and features a United Methodist guest speaker.
The following goals guide the choice of luncheon themes and speakers: 1) to discuss Wesleyan heritage in relation to our preparation for ordained and lay ministry, 2) to discuss matters of spiritual formation, 3) to meet with and learn from local, regional, and global leaders in the UMC, and 4) to work at deepening students’ ecumenical awareness and involvement in social and justice ministries.
Each luncheon serves as a wonderful opportunity to enrich our understanding of the UMC. Nashville provides an amazing learning environment because many of the global United Methodist Boards and agencies are just across the street from the Divinity School. We see this connection as an asset to our education and try to take advantage of it as often as possible.
This semester, our September luncheon hosted Dr. David Watson, Wesleyan scholar and former pastor of West End UMC. He spoke on the history and theology behind Covenant Discipleship groups. His conversation was particularly inspiring because UMSA organizes Covenant Discipleship groups that focus on accountability and spiritual formation for within the VDS community.
At the October luncheon, we were privileged to host Bishop Bill McAlilly of the Memphis and Tennessee Conferences. He spoke about vocation and answering God’s call. Bishop McAlilly shared part of his journey into the life of ministry and fielded student questions.
The luncheons planned for the rest of year promise to be equally engaging:
Nov. 20 – Sophia Agtarap from Communications will speak about effective communications for the local church.
Dec. 11 – Harriet Bryan, District Superintendent for the Nashville District, and Tommy Ward, conference director of the office of ministerial concerns, will speak.
Jan. 15 – Alumnus Philip Brooks, MTS’11, of the General Board of Discipleship, will speak about Path 1 new church starts initiative.
Feb. 19 – Kathy Armistead and Michael Stevens from the Publishing House will speak about: “Learning to Negotiate the Publishing Landscape: What Your Professors Won’t Tell You.”
March 19 – To be announced
April 19 – UMSA Officer elections and reflections on the year