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Students look to ‘catch the passion’

Johnson City Press

MILLIGAN COLLEGE — For Christian high school students uncertain about their future, Milligan College is offering the Big Picture conference on the school’s campus this week. The conference, which helps students to explore the idea of spiritual, vocational calling, is in its sixth year.

“The conference helps students to grow stronger in Christ individually or to become a stronger leader in their church,” said Phyllis Fox, director of Youth in Ministry, the group that plans the Big Picture and Milligan’s summer camp teams. “If they catch the passion here, they’ll bring it back to their churches.”

Sixty-three students from 10 states arrived Sunday for registration and will remain until Saturday, participating in workshops, evening worship and community service. Students will volunteer Friday at Coalition for Kids, Boys 2 Men, the John Sevier Center and Good Samaritan Ministries. The 11 workshops offered range from visual arts to preaching to counseling.

“One of the reasons for the conference is to prepare students to figure out a track for their majors,” Fox said. “It prepares them for college and to select a college.”

The Big Picture is a significant recruiting tool for the college, as half of the graduated seniors from this year’s conference enrolled at Milligan for the 2009-2010 school year. All the camp staff members are Milligan students, graduates or administrators. Multiple Milligan professors are also teaching workshops or delivering a message.

Youth in Ministry began in 2002 when Milligan College received a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. In 2001 the endowment performed a study determining that less than 5 percent of seminary students were under age 30. As a result, Milligan started Youth in Ministry in conjunction with Emmanuel School of Religion, a seminary located across the street from Milligan’s campus. The idea behind the program is that students will attend the conference, gain an interest in vocational ministry through Milligan and attend seminary at Emmanuel.

Although most of the conference attendees historically have not gone into vocational ministry,the conference emphasizes the ability for Christians to minister in whatever profession they choose.

“They discover that every vocation is a ministry, whether they are pharmacists or schoolteachers,” Fox said.

This year, the conference will host a free performance by Tommy Oaks and John Thomas Oaks, who will stage their play “Star Queen” on Wednesday. The play is a comedic retelling of the book of Esther. The two are also leading a performing arts workshop.


MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY is a Christian liberal arts university in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan University, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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