A Reflection on the 2019 Hendrix Youth Institute

By Phoebe Sanders

Episcopal Collegiate School Junior & Member of Pulaski Heights UMC Youth

Phoebe Sanders, Episcopal Collegiate School Junior & Member of Pulaski Heights UMC Youth

Having the opportunity to participate in the Hendrix Youth Institute for two weeks this summer was one of the most exciting, influential, and reassuring things I’ve ever done. Whether it was allowing myself to be vulnerable within small groups about troubles or doubts with my faith, taking classes in the morning to learn about the historic importance of each aspect of worship, or visiting churches around Arkansas and learning from their purpose and mission, HYI quickly became a place where I was able to confidently explore my faith and discern my call to ministry.

The most crucial and formational part of HYI for my faith journey was being surrounded by a community of like-minded peers who are going through the same thing I am. A lot of the time in everyday life, I focus on how to convey my faith in God through everyday actions and conversations, and how these things make the world a better place. However, HYI allowed me to make deeper connections with others while I was doing these things because everyone else had felt the warmth and presence of God’s calling in their lives, just like I had.

Because of this, a strong sense of community quickly formed within our group. We relied on each other to be vessels of God’s work in the world and push each other to new levels in our faith journeys. There is rarely a time when I am surrounded with more than 30 other like-minded individuals to nurture and support me in my faith, and how that conveys my call to work in ministry even more in the future.

Even though we are called to be leaders in the church in the future, we are also called into action right now. Planning worship services, complete with mini-sermons, was one of my favorite ways to exhibit this call. Each one of us had experienced God in our lives and yearned to work with others who feel the same way, but now we’re faced with the difficult task of creating concrete ways to make that happen.

Despite some nervous laughter, these services allowed us to open up in a way I had never gotten to before. Every person had a role in the service, whether it was praying, giving a benediction, or reading scripture. We each brought our own unique personalities and perspectives into our roles, further showcasing our distinct spiritual gifts and how they work together to make the world a better place. This, in itself, was an unforgettable experience.

HYI gave me the opportunity to open my mind while discerning my call to ministry. I’ve known for a while that I want to intertwine faith, politics, and social justice in my career, so going to Washington, D.C. to meet with senators and attend a poverty and homelessness seminar in the United Methodist Building right next to the Supreme Court building was right up my alley.

I came into HYI being absolutely set on pursuing the deacon track in the future, but now being an elder is a possible option for me as well. Even though I am less certain of what I want to do in ministry after I completing HYI this summer, I have grown to a new understanding of trusting God with my future and just trying to do the most good I can along the way.

Hendrix College Welcomes Three New Board of Trustees Members
Coburn ’81, Norman, Pair ’94 to begin Board service with October meeting

Rev. Stephen Coburn

Rev. Mark Norman

Rev. Sara Cole Pair

CONWAY, Ark. (July 16, 2019) – Three new members have been named to the Hendrix College Board of Trustees: the Rev. Stephen Coburn ’81, the Rev. Mark Norman, and the Rev. Sara Cole Pair ’94. These United Methodist clergy will begin their three-year terms at the Board’s October meeting.

Coburn, who currently serves as district superintendent and chief mission strategist of the Northwest District within the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hendrix and a Master of Divinity degree from Iliff School of Theology. The Monticello native has served in pastor and associate pastor roles in churches around the state, most recently as senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Springdale.

An avid photographer, Coburn has recently begun selling prints of his photos to benefit 200,000 Reasons, the Arkansas Conference’s statewide initiative to alleviate childhood hunger, which the College also supports through activities associated with its Office of Religious Life.

Norman currently serves as district superintendent and chief mission strategist of the Southeast District within the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church. A graduate of Philander Smith College, where he also serves on the Board of Trustees, he earned his Master of Divinity degree at St. Paul School of Theology. His most recent congregation-level appointment was as associate pastor of First United Methodist Church of Benton.

His involvement in the denomination has included service on the United Methodist General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, and serving as a delegate to the 2016, 2019, and 2020 General Conferences, having been the first-elected clergyperson to the Arkansas delegation. Norman is a Little Rock native who lives in White Hall. His daughter is a current Hendrix student.

Pair, who is originally from Paragould, has served as pastor of Sequoyah United Methodist Church in Fayetteville since 2010. After graduating from Hendrix, she earned her Master of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity School, and went on to serve congregations in Dallas, Fort Smith, Alma, and Conway before moving to Fayetteville.

She is a member of the Fayetteville Ministerial Alliance, and has served the Arkansas Conference on the Board of Ordained Ministry, Administrative Review Committee, Committee on Investigation, Northwest District Board of Church Location, and as vice-chair of Conference Board of Finance and Administration.

“We are looking forward to having Stephen, Mark, and Sara share their time, abilities, and perspectives as members of the Board,” said Bill Tsutsui, president of the College. “Their talents will serve Hendrix well as we continue to provide an environment that cultivates a spirit of inquiry and an eagerness for active learning that will extend beyond students’ four years on campus.”

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit www.hendrix.edu.

Service-Learning Trips Engage, Inspire Hendrix College Students
Helping others in Rwanda and New York City provides opportunities for growth

Hendrix students who traveled to New York City. Front row: Nina Faidley ’20, Harper Purifoy ’19, Chelsea Flowers ’21
Middle row: Christine Donakey ’21, Brittany Chue ’21, Christina Choh ’19, Audrey Mutoni ’22, and director of student activities Tonya Hale.
Back row: Lexie Burleson ’21, biology professor J.D. Gantz.

CONWAY, Ark. (June 18, 2019) – Two groups of Hendrix College students, faculty, and staff began summer break with service-learning trips to New York City and Rwanda, where their experiences serving others led them to learn more about themselves and the world.

Organized by the Hendrix College Office of Religious Life and sponsored by the Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics, and Calling, service-learning trips welcome individuals from any faith tradition or non-religious perspective. Participating students work on projects that benefit communities experiencing material or social disadvantages while building relationships with those they serve. Students also spend time exploring their own values and social concerns, beliefs and commitments, gifts and limitations through guided discussions and journal writing.

“Service-learning trips give students an opportunity to connect with cultures and people who hold different perspectives of the world,” said the Rev. J.J. Whitney ’96, chaplain and director of the Office of Religious Life for the College. “Through service that leads to significant interactions in the community, students continue to discern their vocations, discovering how their gifts and passions can make a difference in meeting the needs of our time.”

The New York City trip was coordinated through Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP), a Quaker organization grounded in the Quaker values of respect, simplicity, and service with students from any faith or belief system and those who do not ascribe to any faith. Director of student activities Tonya Hale and biology professor Dr. J.D. Gantz led this trip, which included students Lexie Burleson ’21, Christina Choh ’19, Brittany Chue ’21, Christine Donakey ’21, Nina Faidley ’20, Chelsea Flowers ’21, Audrey Mutoni ’22, and Harper Purifoy ’19. The group spent their days serving at soup kitchens, organizing supply closets for shelters, distributing food and toiletries, and tutoring young readers in an elementary school. Evenings and the week’s end brought opportunities to see the sights of New York City.

“This service-learning trip ignited a new passion to serve that I never knew was in me,” Flowers said. “Typically, as Americans, we see the homeless as more of an object of misfortune rather than an actual person. We tell the homeless what they need to survive in society without much concern for providing that aid.”

Flowers embraced the change in perspective the trip brought her, and recommends that others take advantage of similar opportunities. “I promise you that learning things about someone’s experience will leave a lasting impact on you and them, and it may teach you some things. Be open to that,” she said. “The little things truly go a long way for people, and this trip helped me realize that. I am forever grateful for it.”

The second service-learning group traveled to Gashora, a small village in rural South Rwanda, to spend a week at Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology (GGAST), a long-standing partner with Hendrix College. During lunch, Hendrix students interacted with GGAST students and talked with them about the U.S. college experience. In the mornings and afternoons, the group volunteered with Dihiro Public School, which serves primary and secondary students. They worked with teachers and students of Dihiro to strengthen English language instruction there, and at week’s end, they watched the Dihiro English Club hold a debate on the topic of unplanned teen pregnancy.

Rwanda group photo, from left:
Trip guide/host Paul Ruganintwali, director of ESOL and International Student Services Gwen Stockwell, politics and environmental studies professor Peter Gess, psychology professor Jennifer Penner, summer intern Hannah Henderson ’20, Greer Ayers ’22, trip guide/host Joan Umwiza, summer intern Hannah Eldred ’21, summer intern Reagan Kilgore ’20, Sumaira Sardar ’21, Aleck Bratt ’20, and Alex Scott ’20.

Before returning to the U.S., the group engaged with Rwanda’s history of genocide and reconciliation, and took some time to explore Akagera National Park by safari.

Dr. Peter Gess, a politics and environmental studies professor, and Gwen Stockwell, director of ESOL and International Student Services, led the Rwanda trip. Hendrix students Greer Ayers ’22, Aleck Bratt ’20, Sumaira Sardar ’21, and Alexandra Scott ’20 participated, and were assisted by Dr. Jennifer Penner, a Hendrix psychology professor who spent part of her recent sabbatical teaching at GGAST, and by Hannah Eldred ’21, Hannah Henderson ’20, and Reagan Kilgore ’20, Hendrix students completing summer internships at GGAST.

“Our teaching topics included various aspects of grammar, vocabulary, and literature, as well as lesson-planning,” Gess said. “We also trained the teachers on the use of technology—the LCD projector we donated was so happily received!”

“Rwanda is full of beautiful people whose smiles are contagious and whose joy is infectious,” said Ayers. “I am so thankful for this experience from the Miller Center, as it has once again allowed me to experience cross-cultural servanthood as a way of deepening my understanding of the world and all the beautiful things it has to offer.”

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit www.hendrix.edu.

Center for Calling and Christian Leadership at Hendrix Hires Program Coordinator

Eva Englert-Jessen, Program Coordinator for the Center for Calling and Christian Leadership at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas.

CONWAY, Ark. (October 3, 2018) – Eva Englert-Jessen ’12 has begun work as the program coordinator for the Center for Calling and Christian Leadership at Hendrix College, part of the Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics, and Calling.

This grant-funded position, made possible by the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas (UMFA), will help the Center create programs for young United Methodists (ages 12 and up) to explore and discern their calls to lay and ordained ministry and church leadership; and will support young clergy in sustaining their calls to ministry through civic engagement retreats and intentional mentoring relationships. The grant will also provide funds for events, travel, and additional program support.

After graduating from Hendrix, Englert-Jessen went on to Boston University School of Theology, earning a Master of Divinity degree in 2017. A native of Dallas, where she most recently served as a chaplain at Methodist Health System, she is a candidate for ordination as a deacon in the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church.

While in Boston, Englert-Jessen lived and worked in the Life Together Community, gaining practical ministry and leadership development experience focused on social justice. Her calling leads her toward supporting and creating spaces for the church (broadly defined) to be a source of personal and social transformation, including guiding communities to discern personally and collectively where they feel deeply called.

“It’s exciting to return to the environment that shaped so much of my own call to ministry,” she said. “I’m passionate about doing work that supports students at Hendrix and across Arkansas in discerning who they are in community.”

“The Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics, and Calling has always had a vital program of ministry exploration for Hendrix students. With the Foundation’s gift, we want to make those opportunities and intentional mentoring available across Arkansas,” said the Rev. J.J. Whitney ’96, chaplain of the College. “Continuing the Hendrix College tradition of being a space that mentors young adults for ministry, the Center will give us resources to reach across the state and provide opportunities for youth and young adults to discern a call to ministry and leadership within the church.”

The Center for Calling and Christian Leadership seeks to mentor young persons from the beginnings of discerning a call to ministry and throughout the vocational discernment process to professional church leadership. It will offer programming in a variety of areas, including worship leadership, shadowing, orientation to ministry, spiritual formation, peer support, internships, and service-learning opportunities.

“The work of the Center to help young people discern their call to ministry is exciting and encouraging,” said Michelle Moore ’06, developer of clergy recruitment and youth and young adult coordinator for the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church. “The Center’s efforts will strengthen the church for decades to come.”

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit www.hendrix.edu.

Applications for 2019 Hendrix Youth Institute now available

The 2019 Hendrix Youth Institute will take place June 16 – 29. The first week will take place at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, and the second week will include a trip to Washington, D.C.

The Hendrix Youth Institute — HYI — is a program that helps rising high school juniors and seniors discern their call for ministry, specifically in a setting that introduces them to what ordained and professional ministry means for them.

According to the Hendrix College website, “using a holistic approach, the program will incorporate the ‘head, heart, and hands’ to enable youth to understand God’s call.”

The curriculum for the HYI experience includes:

  • Two morning classes relating to the Institute’s yearly theme, “Bible” and “Wesleyan Studies.”
  • Afternoons engaged in service work or shadowing church professionals.
  • Worship, small group Bible study, spiritual gift/discernment exercises, and time for fun and fellowship.
  • An Orientation to Ministry event sponsored by the Arkansas Conference Board of Ordained Ministry.
  • A mission trip to Washington D.C. in which participants will work together, building relationships with those they serve and learning from one another.

Applications for the HYI program are due by Feb. 1, 2019. Applicants who are accepted into the HYI will be notified by March 1.

To fill out an application for the 2019 HYI, please click the link below.

https://www.hendrix.edu/uploadedFiles/Religious_Life/HYI%202019%20Application.pdf

For more information, contact J.J. Whitney at 501-450-1263 or email her at whitney@hendrix.edu.