by Michael Smith, Digest staff writer
TIU’s campus became home to over 250 high school students on April 25–26 as Trinity’s Emerging Kingdom Leaders (EKL) program hosted its 360 Student Leadership Conference.
The annual two-day conference has been a staple of the campus for nearly a decade and has grown significantly in the past three years since coming under the responsibility of Katherine Jeffery and the Office of Christian Formation and Mission (OCFM).
For continuity, this year’s conference retained the name 360, which began last year; however, the theme of the conference went in a different direction than that of its predecessor. This year’s conference was themed “Torchbearers” and followed the concept of a leader being the person to carry the light. This was accomplished through the topics of the main sessions and workshops that the high school students and youth leaders attended.
The main sessions were led by Pastor Andrew Arndt. Arndt is a TEDS graduate and a lead pastor for Bloom Church in Denver, Colorado. Bloom Church is, as Arndt would describe it, “a network of house churches and unlikely collection of hippies and hipsters.”
Arndt’s main sessions focused on the Torchbearers theme by approaching it from three angles: God Brings It, We Bear It, We Share It. The first portion talked about how God is the source of light and that he brought it into the world. In the last two sessions, he talked about our responsibility to take the light and share it.
These topics were further discussed in the twenty different workshops that were offered on a variety of topics from social media to social justice. The workshops were led by a various people, including TIU faculty, staff, and students, local pastors and business leaders, and TIU alumni. The workshops were separated into four tracks that focused on different aspects of leadership.
EKL teacher’s assistant senior Tim Mrowiec was optimistic about this year’s result.
“The conference ran smoothly thanks to the work of our hardworking, sacrificial, strong team,” Mrowiec said. “There was a special moment right after the conference started where you could see everyone doing their job and doing it much better as a team.”
Mrowiec also mentioned an increase in the diversity and quality of the conference over the past few years. In his five years at TIU, the EKL Conference has grown from about twenty-five attendees to more than four hundred in 2013. They have since been able to bring in better speakers, more and better workshops, and added a successful youth leader track.
The EKL program is a group of twenty-one freshmen and five teacher’s assistants who work to develop a better understanding of leadership from a Christian perspective and pass this perspective on to future leaders through their annual 360 Conference. The program consists of two weekly meetings where the students work not only on conference planning, but also on learning principles of leadership.
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