I have to admit that the Southwest planning team was getting anxious. Since this was the first time we were doing the youTheology weekend away from St Paul, I did not know what to expect. There were still many unanswered questions. Would the videolink equipment work? Would the students connect over the video link? Could the presenters’ messages be received over hundreds of miles and a different time zone?
I knew that everything was ok when after one of the vespers services a 10 minute break was announced and no one moved. All of the youTheologians at Lydia Patterson remained in their seats or on the floor continuing their worship beyond the limits of the program. And then there was the time at the farm when everyone had to start cleaning the stalls and shoveling manure. Magda, our intern, remarked that she was not sure some of the students would even do it. To her surprise, everyone pitched in and the group came back to Lydia Patterson exhausted, but somehow changed. There was reconciliation between old friends and in the meetings with new neighbors during the weekend (some of whom were not very nice). It was in moments such as these that we saw there was a plan for this group in the context of “loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves,” and somehow, someway, in spite of all of our planning, etc., youTheology would indeed become a means of God’s grace.
While there will be many things to fine tune for next time, what was confirmed for me is the continuing strategic opportunity for the preparation of persons for mission and ministry, in an international cross-cultural setting, through the bridge of the Southwest site with the Saint Paul School of Theology. When we use the term “to be in connection” in the church, we can see how that is applied even over time and distance. Our youTheologians are already using the quadrilateral as a means to assess issues from a theological perspective and implementing our first chapel service based on the weekend experiences. Our dream of preparing leaders for church and society is bearing fruit.
We look forward to taking the next faithful step with all of you and to see what other surprises God has in store for us.
Rev George Miller
youTheology Southwest - Lydia Patterson Institute
Loving God, Loving Neighbor