By Tohko Nohara ‘18
From June 26th to July 2ndd, Gordon College welcomed 21 high school students from all over the world to be a part of Equip 2016, a seven day conference that focused on equipping high school students to own their faith in a world where it can be challenging.
Gordon’s chaplain, Tom Haugen, and the Director of Discipleship, Lauren Becker, had been planning the conference since January 2016 after receiving a grant from the Lilly Foundation, and they set out to put together a new program for high school students that will foster leadership development and build out Christian faith.
According to Haugen, Equip is the first of three initiatives. He said, “it is like a funnel where those who completed Equip then have a choice to go through the Compass, a leadership development program, then to the Summit, where they spend time in an intentional community in Adirondack, New York.”
In Equip 2016, both Haugen and Becker emphasized the concept of relational ministry, owning one’s faith, and carrying that into action. Haugen said, “Equip is an opportunity to highlight the best of Gordon (Faculty, staff, students, and campus) to high school students during a formative time in their Christian faith development. Helping them connect the dots between their Christian Faith and the Word they live in.”
12 Gordon student summer staff, 2 staff program directors, LaVida staff, and Gordon faculty all took a huge role to create a transformative experience for these high schoolers. Through lectures and workshops, students experienced “a mini version of Gordon” by learning how technology, creation care, arts, and social justice integrate faith. The students had the opportunity to venture off of campus to canoe the Ipswich River, and they also visited the Emmanuel Gospel Center and the Salvation Army in Boston.
Along with the seminars and events that were available, the students would have 30 minutes of silence to pray and read the Bible. After this time of reflection, the students would get into small groups to debrief activities and scripture.
Becker said, “It was a great time for students not only to know the campus life but to finish high school with what they’ve learned this summer.”