Exploring Your Call for high school youth returns to Bethany this summer, June 15-25, 2012. This event provides the opportunity for young people entering their junior or senior year of high school in fall 2012 to explore faith and vocation through classes, congregational involvement, service projects, personal and spiritual enrichment, and recreation.
Russell Haitch, associate professor of Christian education and director of the Institute for Youth and Young Adults at Bethany, oversees EYC. "It's an intense but beautiful program. Last year, youth studied theology in the classroom, then shadowed pastors and did real-life ministry, then took a trip to Chicago to live in an intentional community and learn about all sorts of non-pastoral vocations. The level of conversation and quality of friendship that developed was really splendid, and I'm excited that equally good things will happen this year."
Through continued generous funding from Barnabas Ltd., participants can attend EYC at no cost except for travel to and from Richmond, Indiana. Located in New South Wales, Australia, this family foundation was begun by the parents of current Bethany trustee Jerry Davis and focuses primarily on projects that help prepare people for ministry. "Although the program is free," says Haitch, "it could cost you a whole change of direction in life."
First held from 2001-2005, EYC was revived in summer 2011 with an "intellectually alert, emotionally alive, and spiritually courageous" group of youth, according to Haitch. "Unprompted by us, they started sharing about transformational experiences of God in their lives, and every day it kept getting better." Participant Stephen Dowdy from Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntington, Pennsylvania, said, "EYC helped me to better understand how my actions are a part of my ministry. I came to realize that my church life and my 'normal' life should not be separate parts, but a whole experience with a concentration in community."
Participants have also shared that EYC sparked their interest in doing advanced biblical and theological work in a seminary environment, gave them a lively introduction to the work of pastoral ministry, and enabled them to meet peers who were serious about their Christian faith. Many continue to stay in contact with each other. Former participant Dylan Haro is now a middler student at Bethany and served as a student organizer and leader for EYC 2011. "It was during my participation in Exploring Your Call that I first considered ministry as my vocation. I am excited for high school students today who have the same opportunity to experience this unique and enriching program. . . . It is programs and people like these that ignite my hope for the future of the church."
More information and an online application for Exploring Your Call can be found at www.bethanyseminary.edu/eyc /. Persons who have additional questions may contact firstname.lastname@example.org  or 800-287-8822 (ask for Exploring Your Call).