Summer Program Helps Youth Discern Call To Ministry
Texas Youth Academy alumni share how experience impacted their faith
Texas Youth Academy offers students completing 10th to 12th grades the opportunity to participate in an in-depth experience of Christian community and formation that will challenge their hearts, minds and spirits. This year, it will take place on the SMU campus June 17-29. The deadline for nomination applications is May 5. Cost is $500 for the two weeks. Nominating churches are asked to pay a portion or all the costs. Scholarships are available through the North Texas Conference’s Center for Leadership Development – email Kelly Carpenter for more information.
Three alumni of the program shared their experiences with us and how it has impacted their faith.
Craft attended at a time when he was discerning his call into ministry. He heard about the program from Rev. Russell Floyd while attending First UMC Irving.
“The way that program was described to me … two weeks of intentional Christian fellowship, learning and service felt like the perfect opportunity for me to be able to further discern and explore my calling,” Craft said.
After TYA, he had a better understanding of what it meant to be a United Methodist, including the beliefs and core values. He was able to understand his own faith. Through the intentional fellowship and service at TYA, he was reminded there is more to being a Christian than church attendance.
Craft still attends First UMC Irving when he is on break from McMurry University in Abilene. He is seeking a Bachelor of Arts in religion. After graduating, he plans to pursue a Master of Divinity.
Foster attended TYA in the summer of 2013 after hearing about the program while serving on the Conference Council on Youth Ministries. Her family had started attending Prosper UMC after a seven-year absence. Foster was looking for a way to explore her faith more deeply than the typical church-camp experience.
“TYA offered the opportunity to continue learning more about faith, about the UMC and about ministry,” Foster said.
She said the experience shaped her faith and made her who she is today. It challenged her to think critically about her faith and engage with others in faith conversations.
“It was the first space where adults let me in on the theological conversation, the first space where I even had the chance to overhear that conversation,” Foster said.
Foster is finishing her Master of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary and pursuing ordination in The United Methodist Church. She credits TYA with helping her realize that it was a possibility. She developed a passion for youth ministry and currently serves as the digital content editor for Engage, an online resource for youth ministers at Princeton Seminary.
In 2019-20, she will teach English and Protestant Christianity in a German high school through the School of Theology at Philipps University in Marburg, Germany.
York attended Texas Youth Academy after her junior year of high school. Around the same time, she was discerning her call to ministry.
“Texas Youth Academy appealed to me because it sounded like a place where I could go and learn more about my faith with other students who also have a desire for a deeper understanding of God,” she said.
York grew up knowing and believing in God because that was what she was taught. At TYA, she was challenged to think for herself and came home understanding why she was a Christian, what it meant to be a United Methodist and was more deeply rooted in her faith.
“Those two weeks helped me understand things like communion, baptism, grace, John Wesley, worship and so many other aspects of my faith,” York said.
For her, TYA was a place where she experienced moments where she knew God was working in her life and in the community around her. She was encouraged to explore her call and what that meant for her life.
This May, York will graduate from the University of North Texas. During her college years, she worked with churches and youth groups. She is currently working at First UMC Rockwall. She has plans to attend SMU’s Perkins School of Theology in the fall and hopes to become an ordained clergywoman.
Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2019