For Immediate Release
(St. Louis, MO)—American students of the current generation are serious about following God, said Urbana 06 director Jim Tebbe as InterVarsity’s 21st Student Missions Convention came to a close on New Year’s Eve. “It seems that there’s a different tenor to it than even 2003, the last Urbana,” Tebbe said. “There’s a serious of purpose here that has surprised me.”
“This is a very assertive global generation,” agreed InterVarsity president Alec Hill, at a news conference in the closing hours of the convention. He recalled sitting amongst a group of international students at Urbana from Japan, Korea and Nigeria, and realizing they were singing a worship song in Spanish. “It was marvelous,” he said. “It captured a lot of the things we were doing this week.”
Brenda Salter McNeil, of Salter McNeil Associates, noticed that the attendees, who were mostly college students, showed up early and stayed to the end. There was very little attrition throughout the convention. “These are people who hear the Word of God and then immediately want to respond to it,” she said. “I’m extremely impressed.”
The five day triennial convention was held in St. Louis for the first time, beginning on December 27 and ending on December 31. The theme of Urbana 06 was “You Have a Calling,” taken from the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:1. Tebbe said the theme was expressed well and the students reacted with “a whole new openness and responsiveness that hasn’t been there before,” he said.
He noted that the most popular book in the Urbana bookstore was The New Friars, by InterVarsity’s Director of Global Projects, Scott Bessenecker. The book profiles young believers who pursue ministry among the poorest of the poor. The Urbana track led by Bessenecker, Slum Communities of the Developing World, was also one of the most popular offered at Urbana 06.
Earlier generations of Christians struggled over whether proclamation of the Gospel or ministries of compassion were more important. Geri Rodman, president of Inter-Varsity Canada, said the struggle appears to be over. “Those are the two arenas that often get separated,” she said. “What’s happening in this generation is that it’s moving together.”
Tebbe reported that more than 35 Urbana attendees were participating in the Director’s Track, designed to help Christian leaders from other countries replicate the Urbana model. “They want to know everything about how we do Urbana,” he said. Part of the $1.2 million dollar offering that was given by Urbana attendees will be used as seed money for those missions conventions through the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students. Eleven other missions organizations will share in the offering:
- Africa Inland Mission
- International Justice Mission
- Jubilee Christian Development
- Lanka Evangelical Alliance Development Service
- MAP International
- School For The Handicapped in Mokottam, Egypt
- World Relief
- World Vision
Jim Tebbe reported that paid Urbana 06 registrations totaled 22,487, topping the previous high of 20,700 at Urbana 2000. Information from decision cards filled out by Urbana 06 attendees will be available after the end of the convention. Tebbe also said that no decision has been made yet about the location of Urbana 09.
For more information contact Gordon Govier at 608-443-3688