Bishop Student Leadership Academy is a three-day vocational exploration. It allows young adults to learn about God, to discover their passions and what they think God is calling them to do in their lives.
The retreat is facilitated by a team of youth workers, pastors and college students from the University of Indianapolis. It is coordinated by Rev. Jeremiah Gibbs, ecumenical chaplain at the University of Indianapolis, and Rev. Brian Durand, associate director of leadership development and the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.
The program takes place at the University of Indianapolis. Students sleep in the United Methodist Church on campus, a few blocks from the university. Students shower in freshman dormitory showers in the morning and are provided food by the university’s cafeteria with many lines to choose from.
On the first night, everyone gets connected and put in their groups with local college kids as their youth leaders. There is a church service and orientation as well. The leaders direct games to have everyone get acquainted and having fun. They serve pizza at the end, with lights out at 1:30 a.m.
During the last two days, the leaders take the participants to more worship services and group sessions to talk about problems around the world and how strongly people feel about these problems. Everyone discusses their passions, things that get them fired up, and their stories. They talk about what defines them and what gift God has given them to offer the world.
Gibbs and the youth leaders take the students to a computer lab to research jobs and opportunities to serve God in one’s life. The leaders talk about how one can share God’s love and word through any job, be it a teacher, nurse, social worker, janitor, librarian or even a psychologist.
On Sunday morning, everyone attends the church’s worship service, followed by one more session to talk about the entire weekend and tie up any loose ends. Lunch is served to the group, and then students can be picked up anytime after that. Games and refreshments are offered.
Bishop Student Leadership Academy is a great experience for any high school student and should be greatly considered. One can meet new people, discover things about oneself that were never thought to be possible, and learn more about God. One can also have a glimpse of what college life is like, learn what passions one possesses and most important, what God is calling them to do.
Saira Nelson, of Porter, is a sophomore at Chesterton High School. The opinions are the writer's.