URBANA IN JULY: Mobilizing a Generation of Students to Cross-Cultural Service


(Madison, WI) – With InterVarsity’s Urbana 06 Student Missions Convention now less than six months away, preparations for the triennial event are increasing in pace and intensity.

InterVarsity’s twenty-first Urbana Student Missions Convention will be held at the Edward Jones Dome at the America’s Center in St. Louis, Dec. 27-31, 2006. An expected 25,000 attendees will be challenged by speakers, workshop leaders, and mission agency representatives to make a personal commitment to respond to God’s call to bring hope and healing to a broken world. Online registration began in February and already almost 8000 people have registered for Urbana 06.

What’s New This Month

  • More people are hearing about Urbana. Urbana 06 was represented at the annual Cornerstone Arts and Music Festival in Bushnell, Illinois, July 4-8. Urbana 06 will be featured at a number of events over the next six months, including:
    ACMC Conference (Advancing Churches in Missions Commitment) Santa Ana, CA, July 19-21
    • Life Light Festival, Sioux Falls, SD, September 1 – 3
  • InterVarsity is looking for 3,000 volunteers to help us make Urbana 06 run smoothly for all who come. The Urbana 06 volunteer website is now online: www.urbana.org/go/volunteers.
  • Urbana is the largest gathering of missions organizations in the world. More than 300 missions agencies and schools are expected at Urbana 06. Urbana exhibitors can now also apply online: www.urbana.org/u2006.forexhibitors.cfm
  • The Urbana 06 speakers retreat is this month in St. Louis. Plenary speakers for Urbana 06 are meeting to confer and begin preparation for the messages they will bring to the 25,000 attendees who will be gathering in the Edward Jones Dome between Christmas and New Year’s.

Over the course of the 60-year history of Urbana conventions thousands of attendees have responded to the call to commitment to sacrificial service. Three years ago at Urbana 03, 36 percent of the 19,000 attendees committed themselves to serve God in cross cultural missions.

Urbana 06 will have special tracks focusing on:

  • Mission through the Lens of AIDS
  • Business as Mission
  • Slum Communities in the Developing World
  • International Students


Urbana year 2006 brings an important conjunction of missions-related anniversaries:

  • Fifty years ago five missionaries were martyred in Ecuador, an event depicted in the move End of the Spear, released last January. All five missionaries cultivated their passion for lost souls while they were college students.
  • Sixty years ago InterVarsity held its first student missions convention in Toronto. Two years later it was moved to the University of Illinois where it became known as the Urbana convention.
  • One hundred years ago the Azusa Street revival began, which launched the modern Pentecostal movement.
  • Two hundred years ago the Haystack prayer meeting was held at Williams College in Massachusetts, launching the modern North American missions movement.

InterVarsity’s Urbana Student Missions Convention is a part of the legacy of the Haystack prayer meeting. But Urbana itself has also created a legacy. Gordon College Missions professor Paul Borthwick plans to attend Urbana-like student missions conventions in Taiwan, Indonesia, and Nigeria in coming months. “All of these are testimonies of the fact that through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit students are mobilizing for a great advance into the world that we live in and the world beyond ourselves,” he says. “These are the students who can change the future of our global Christian faith because of their willingness to be incarnational, to go to places that are hard to get to.”


InterVarsity’s first student missions convention was held in Toronto in 1946. Ever since, at approximately three year intervals, the convention has been held between Christmas and New Years Day on the University of Illinois campus at Urbana-Champaign.

Past speakers at Urbana conventions have included Billy Graham, John R.W. Stott, Elisabeth Elliott, Ravi Zacharias, George Verwer, Paul Borthwick, Joni Eareckson Tada, Luis Palau, John Perkins, Tom Skinner, A.W. Tozer and J. Oswald Sanders.

In 2004 InterVarsity announced the decision to move the Urbana convention from its traditional location on the University of Illinois campus to St. Louis in order to allow more people to attend and to provide a better convention experience for attendees. Anticipated attendance of 25,000 is a twenty-five percent increase from Urbana 03.

To find out more about Urbana 06 or schedule an Urbana 06 interview, contact: