Emerging Kingdom Leaders Conference: Christ the Center

360

Trinity’s undergraduate leadership program Emerging Kingdom Leaders (EKL) hosted their first ever sold-out annual conference, with 400 high school students attending on April 26 – 27. EKL is a leadership program designed for freshman undergraduate students, and students can continue to participate as mentors throughout their undergraduate career.

The conference, hosted by current EKL freshman and leaders, consisted of three main sessions, three workshop sessions, a TOMS Sole party and a variety of other fun activities. The main session speaker, Pastor of Spiritual Formation at River Valley Church Matt Tebbe, shared about the 360° theme of the conference. Director of Leadership Development and Director of the Office of Christian Formation and Mission Katherine Jeffery said the conference looked at each part of life and how to grow in each part, with Christ in the center of it all. EKL developed the 360° logo around this idea, with the cross forming a circle.

Students attending the conference had the opportunity to attend several workshops, all focused on different aspects of the holistic circle of Christian life.

Workshops included:

  • “The Well-Rounded Woman” by TIU Cordinator of Minority Student Engagement Joi McGowan
  • “Well-Rounded Relationships” by Residence Director Israel Diaz
  • “Well-Rounded and Globally-Minded” by Movement121 CEO and President Brad Jeffery
  • “Centering Your Circle: Reliance on God” by Trinity junior Steve Durgin
  • “Expanding Your Circle: Being Bold and Courageous” by Director of the Multicultural Development Office (MDO) Devlin Scott
  • “Shaping Your Circle: How the World Sees You” by Trinity senior Stephen Cartwright
  • “Academics: Thinking in Circles” by PhD Program of Educational Studies Director Dr. Donald Guthrie
  • “Social Media: Spheres of Influence” by Trinity sophomore Alex Johnson and sophomore Alyssa Dixon
  • “Mentorship: Speaking into the Circle” by Trinity senior Hannah Merrifield
  • “Evangelism: Bringing Others into the Circle” by Trinity senior Joshua Wheeler
  • “Running in Circles: Leadership for Athletes” by TIU Head Men and Women’s Soccer Coach Patrick Gilliam

For youth leaders accompanying their youth groups or students to the conference, Trinity Assistant Professor of Business Dr. Antony Beckham presented two different workshops, “Concentric Circles: Influence Matters” and “Circles not Squares: from Programs to Formation.”

EKL began in 2007. Each year, EKL members work towards the conference as their year-end project and take on individual responsibilities. EKL members were divided up into groups for planning the workshops, main sessions, hospitality, Friday night coffee house, team challenge, and the TOMS sole party. At the sole party, students were each given a pair of white canvas TOMS shoes to decorate.

This year, 400 students attended the conference, coming from  from Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. EKL members have been seeking out creative ways to get the word out about the conference, such as a EKL 360 Leadership Conference Facebook group and a “EKL Harlem Shake” YouTube video. These measures have proved effective, as only 107 students signed up last year. This year’s conference also offered an additional perspective for future athletic leaders and a global perspective with Movement 121′s presence at the conference, advocating a one-to-one connection between consumers and crafters worldwide.

Junior Brittany Aylesworth has been involved with EKL since her freshman year. She first attended the conference in high school because of her leadership involvement in high school.

“It looked like the perfect opportunity to  get my foot in the door right away,” Aylesworth said.

Aylesworth was on the workshop committee, and spent the past few months brainstorming topics, recruiting speakers, and working  through logistics. The best part of the conference for Aylesworth is the students that attended.

“I love seeing the high school students and knowing that not only are those prospective Trinity students, they are more importantly future leaders. It is awesome to think that God might be using our conference to affect future teachers, ministers, businessmen, or world leaders,” she said.

Jeffery said preparing for the conference helps the freshman EKL members learn more about themselves and their leadership style as they get out of their comfort zone in different activities. Throughout the year, EKL members have been reading through the book Introduction to Leadership by Peter Northouse.

“Many of the students have had to call up different churches to talk about the conference. For some of them it’s a fun thing, for others it’s not,” Jeffery said. “A lot of them went above and beyond what they were asked to do.”

Sophomore Michael Smith is a communications major and an EKL mentor. He oversaw the hospitality committee for the conference. In some instances, this even involved using his communications experience to edit conference materials.

“I think the opportunity to plan a conference is one that most people will never get to have until they have a career. I think the fact that it allows the students to do this with a lot of guidance while in college is phenomenal,” Smith said.

The EKL program has been a formative program for Aylesworth during her undergraduate degree.

“Through the mentorship and educational pieces of the program, I have become aware of and more confident in the unique ways that God has gifted me to serve. From the very beginning as a freshman to my time as a mentor my sophomore and junior years, I have been surrounded by people who see my potential and walk with me in the process of becoming the person God has intended me to be,” Aylesworth said.

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