Calvin Symposium on Worship – by Ellie Keller

March 17th, 2014

During J-term break, I had the privilege of attending the Calvin Symposium on Worship in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I attended the conference with 9 other students, and Doug Curry, the worship pastor at Messiah College.  Over the course of the three days, I attended workshops ranging from how to design a worship service, to contextualizing worship for Native American peoples.  Within the main worship services, Exodus was the chosen scripture for the week.  It was integrated into all of the services and was shared through song, scripture reading and drama.  Seeing scripture come to life is always a special experience, because it becomes more personal; seeing the story before you allows it to become more tangible.  Another aspect I really appreciated and was blown away by was the diversity represented at the conference.  There were over thirty countries at the symposium, all united for the purpose of learning about worship and how we, as leaders, can become more attune to the details of worship services.

If I had to choose a favorite seminar, I think it would be the workshop on contextualizing worship for Native American peoples.  I felt that it was important to attend this workshop as I am spending time on a Native American reservation this summer for missions work.  In this workshop, we learned about the history of the Native peoples, and there aren’t as many Christians among their people.  I learned that it is because of the white missionaries and the religion they forced upon the Native Americans that they drew away from the Christian faith.  As such, there are many even now that will not go back to Christianity because of everything that was impressed upon their ancestors long ago.  Our speakers gave tools to approaching the subject with Natives, and ways in which we can help make Christianity accessible to the Native American people.

One final key element I took away from the conference was related more to worship and Christianity as a whole.  And beyond that, what our faith should look like.  Dr. Constance Cherry shared tools with creating worship services that flow, that they are meaningful, that worship is about the community of believers, and so much more.  At the end of her workshop, she shared this Latin quote with us, and it has made an impression on my views of worship and my personal faith.  “Lex orandi, lex credendi, est.”  Translated, it means, as we worship and as we pray, so we believe.  Simply, it means that believe what we profess, and what we profess, we believe.  I think it’s a powerful statement even in its simplicity; what I say and do isn’t just for show, but it’s what I believe and profess to be true.

Being able to attend this conference was a blessing – I learned so much as a worship leader, and now have so many tools that I can use in my leadership, both here at Messiah College and out in the real world.  I am so thankful for everything I learned and I look forward to utilizing everything I was taught at Calvin.

Faith and International Development Conference at Calvin College – Seth Betteridge

March 17th, 2014

Recently I was blessed with the opportunity to go to the Faith and International Development Conference at Calvin College. The theme of the conference was “Cultivating Community: A Right To Belong.” After a long 9 hour drive leaving at 6:30 AM it was exciting to finally reach our destination of Michigan. There were five of us who traveled from Messiah College. The conference was broken up with devotional speakers. key note speakers and break out sessions. The first key note  speaker of the conference was Dr. Brian Fikkert. Dr. Fikkert is the co-author of When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself. He is also an economist and spoke about the economic work he has done. He is a very intelligent man, with a PH.D. in Economics with highest honors from Yale University. This point he made though stuck with me throughout the conference, “What is the secret to development work?” “It’s God! God needs to show up and perform a miracle.” Dr. Fikkert has a plethora of knowledge and life experience, but he didn’t rattle off numerous answers about how he did this or this. He understands that it is God working through and in the situations that transforms situations and lives.
God has plans for each of us. Being at this conference it has quickened my desire to continue to pursue God wholeheartedly and seek what His plan is for my life and beyond Messiah College. Before coming to this conference I had thought about international development work and since this conference I have felt a greater desire to do mission work. The exact details or timing I still have no inkling of, but God will reveal the time and place. If it was up to me I would work in industry for the next three years and then while still working start taking online or night classes for a MBA, a Masters in International Development or a Masters in Economic Development. Once I finish my masters I would work for a few more years and then start looking for opportunities to apply my masters internationally or locally. At Messiah College there is a service organization called, the Collaboratory. Collaboratory. This organization works on projects world-wide, helping people in need in many different aspects of life. Being able to be a part of an organization like that, where I have a base of operations in the US, but still get to travel internationally would be an amazing opportunity.
There is much to think about and continue to be in prayer about, but I know God has an awesome plan and I am excited to see what the next step of life entails.

Amy Walker’s Reflection on Faith and International Development Conference at Calvin College, Michigan

February 18th, 2014

My name is Amy Walker and I recently attended the Faith and International Development
Conference at Calvin College, Michigan. I am sophomore studying economic development at Messiah College. My ultimate career goal is to work wherever God calls me to help developing communities better promote their standard of living and economic health.

At the beginning on this year I switched my major to business and then decided to focus on the field of economic development. Throughout this year I have gotten a better understanding of how extensive, meaningful, and essential learning about development is. My advisor suggested that I should attend the conference and I knew that I needed to in order to start getting a firmer and better grasp on my field of study as a whole.

The conference was an incredible learning experience for me. Each day would begin with worship and devotions to gets are hearts in the right mindset. We would then listen to speakers discuss different areas of development and how we should see development from a Christian perspective. After the plenary speaker was done, we would separate into smaller groups and attend breakout sessions where we were able to hear about different organizations discuss what they are actually doing in the world.

One of plenary speakers at the conference was Brian Fikkert, who wrote a book I am reading for one of my classes this semester. He gave a meaning speech discussing what poverty is and the way in which we define it determines the solutions we provide for people. He stated, “poverty is a result of relationships that don’t work.” When we label people as poor and attempt to be their savior, we are confirming the shame and helplessness in them. What I really took away from Dr. Fikkert’s speech and this conference in general is that true poverty alleviation is about reconciliation relationships. We can’t solve poverty, but we can grow in relationships with others and allow Jesus to solve poverty.

Another part of the conference that I really enjoyed was in one of the breakout sessions. I learned more about microfinance and how it can be used as a ministry for others. Microfinance and helping people start businesses has always highly interested me and it may be something that I would like to pursue in the future. It was incredible hearing from experts all the different banking services that can be offered for the poor so they can acquire lump sums of money.

Overall, the conference helped me learn so much more about the field of development. I feel more comfortable in this major knowing how many opportunities are out there with so many incredible organizations. It also allowed me to get to know other students who also share interest in learning about the field of development. Most importantly though, it helped me to discern different way I will be able to incorporate my Christian faith into my field of study.

Sara Wagner’s refelction on the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida

March 14th, 2013

My name is Sara Wagner, and I attended the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida.  I am studying biopsychology with a minor in gerontology here at Messiah.  My ultimate career goal is to become a physician assistant and work in geriatric medicine.

I just added my gerontology minor last semester, so I knew there was a lot I needed to learn in the field.  My advisor suggested I attend the conference because it is relatively small and would be a good networking experience.  I found that to be true, as there were many great people that I was able to network with.

The best networking came from a mentoring event.  There were “fellows,” or people who were the best of the best in their field, and tables of students divided by their age groups.  The fellows talked to each table and mentored them by answering questions, making suggestions for the future, and being available.  After each fellow visited each table for 10 minutes, the students were given time to seek out the fellow or fellows who they would like to learn more about.  I sought out a woman who encouraged me.  She helped me develop an idea I had for my senior honors project and made me “promise to stay in contact.”  All the fellows at this event wanted to help students who were studying in the field of gerontology.

The first day of the conference, I joined some of the student honor society and volunteered.  We went to a local retirement facility and helped the residents with their grocery shopping.  We each paired off with a resident and assisted them with whatever they needed as they shopped.  I had a great time bonding with Catherine, and she was very grateful to have a helper.  After grocery shopping, the residents took us up to their apartments, and we visited with them.  Catherine needed me to change her printer cartridges.  It was so simple and quick for me to do so, but it would have been nearly impossible for her to do.

Another part of the conference that I enjoyed was the exhibit hall.  Various vendors and schools had booths set up for information.  I casually visited a school booth to pick up some freebies, and I ended up chatting with the representatives and considering graduate school in gerontology.  The exhibit hall also had posters explaining research that has been done, so it was informative in that sense as well.

In the end, the conference helped me to learn more about gerontology and current research, network with professionals in the field, and become more comfortable with attending professional conferences.  I was able to learn from other students and their experiences as well.  The biggest takeaway I got from the conference was encouragement and help defining some research I would like to complete for my senior honors project.  I also realized that graduate school for gerontology is much more possible and practical than I ever imagined.

Welcome to the Student Professional Development Grant Blog. Read on for intriguing reflections on the professional development experiences of our recent grant recipients.

January 2nd, 2013