European EXPLORATION Provides Chance for Discernment

December 11, 2008

By Vicki Brown*

Twenty-three young people from five countries gathered during European EXPLORATION to consider God's call in their lives, while adults who work with young people used the event to connect with each other and share ideas.
"EXPLORATION is a sign of hope for The United Methodist Church in Germany: Young people gathering to discern God's calling for their lives and willing to engage in the mission of the UMC in making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world," said Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, resident bishop of the German Central Conference. The event was held Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in Braunfels, Germany.
"Everyone who attended, including three young people from Estonia, appreciated the opportunity to talk with peers and the leadership—[and appreciated] especially the possibility to experience fellowship with people from the worldwide connection," Wenner said.
The event was supported financially by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. The Rev. Meg Lassiat, director of Student Ministries, Vocation, and Enlistment for GBHEM, said one of the most exciting aspects of European EXPLORATION was gathering together students from five different countries.
"Hearing from participants about their ministries in so many different places helps all people to learn about the strength of the United Methodist connection. The three EXPLORATION events in Germany, Russia, and the United States remind us all about the importance of leadership development and vocational discernment for young people throughout the world."
Lemme Täll, who coordinates youth work for the United Methodist Church in Estonia, brought two youth to EXPLORATION.
"I’m taking back some ideas of what we should do in Estonia to get youth together to find out their calling for their lives," she said.
Dominik Schuler, from Basel, Switzerland, said he enjoyed the community. "I feel at home in The United Methodist Church. Now I'm coming home to the church [in Germany] after serving in another country."
Fiona Orr, a member of the Dublin International Mission Team, said the event provided a good time to share the sense of love and passion for helping young people discern God's will.
The keynote speaker was the Rev. Dr. Barry Sloan, a pastor from Ireland, serving in Chemnitz, in the Eastern Germany Annual Conference.
The event took place just a few weeks after the celebration of 150 years of theological education in the Methodist churches in Germany, a fact Wenner called "a wonderful coincidence."
"One hundred and fifty years ago, Methodists recognized that we need people who are answering God's calling and are well educated in theology in order to fulfill the mission of the church of making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. These two aspects are as important today as in the past," she said.
"EXPLORATION invites people to answer to God's call and to use the services of the Theological School in Reutlingen, Germany, as well as other possibilities for leadership training," Wenner said.
*Brown is associate editor and writer, Office of Interpretation, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.