Reflections on the United Methodist Seminar Program
In 1967 my home church, Buncombe Street United Methodist Church in Greenville, S.C., sponsored a United Methodist Youth Fellowship trip to the United Methodist Seminar Program at the United Nations in New York City. For months our youth group had numerous programs on the Middle East, the topic of the seminar. Reading maps, listening to music, eating food and being immersed in the history and religions of the region was thrilling. Little did anyone know that our trip would coincide with the Six-Day War in the Middle East, changing the political landscape of the 20th century. Only in retrospect did I realize that my own sense of responsibility for moral and religious education was being shaped not only by my congregation but by the commitment of the United Methodist Women to educate for the transformation of society. Only on reflection did I come to see how the seminar made me very conscious of my citizenship as a Christian in a global arena.
Profoundly shaped by this educational experience upon becoming a pastor and a campus minister and later the dean of religious life at a major research university, I committed myself to engaging in ministries of Word, Sacrament, Order and Education. Collaborating with the staff of the Women's Division in planning and organizing educational experiences for groups is enlivening and enriching. For more than 30 years students and groups have benefited from these seminars on relevant social issues. Art projects, visual arts presentations, master's theses, term papers, rethinking life choices, meaningful gap years and ordained ministry are all results of these experiences for dozens of seminary, college and high school students. Young ministers who participated in the program in their high school and college years are now engaging new generations in the Seminar Program. Reaching well beyond The United Methodist Church and Christian family are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, and “searching” students eagerly engaging in these seminars and building lasting friendships across faith families.
Of hundreds of programs and relationships offered by The United Methodist Church, the United Methodist Seminar Program serves to engage in global education, citizenship and understanding and to form and transform generations to come for faithfully living in the world.
The Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe is the dean of the Chapel and Religious Life at Emory University. On March 7–8, Ms. Henry-Crowe led a group of students from Emory University for a seminar on education with the United Methodist Seminar Program. For more information about the Seminar Program visit unitedmethodistwomen.org/learn/seminars/.