|College students unite to serve Atlanta following Baptist celebration||| Print ||
By Patricia Heys
ATLANTA-More than 80 students from eight colleges and universities will participate in a day of service Feb. 2, the day after more than 15,000 Baptists gathered in Atlanta for the celebration of a New Baptist Covenant.
The students, who attended the interracial meeting that drew Baptists from throughout North America, are part of the Baptist Collegiate Fellowship.
The celebration of a New Baptist Covenant focused on the biblical mandates of Jesus, as recorded in Luke 4:18-19. The Baptist Collegiate Fellowship's three-day event will focus on those mandates to care for the poor with small group activities, worship and service projects.
"This is an event that is historic in nature, but it's also an opportunity to unite with so many other students," said Tyler Ward, a junior at Campbell University and one of the event's organizers. "We are taking the words of Jesus and really putting hands and feet to them. Over the next few days, we will be really focusing on the service aspect of following Jesus."
Students will work at two homeless service centers in Atlanta—the Gateway Center and the Atlanta Union Mission—serving meals, organizing clothes and linen closets, leading activities for children and cleaning.
"As Baptists, there are many things that we can disagree on. But we can all agree on the biblical mandates to spread the gospel, promote peace with justice, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick and marginalized, welcome the stranger and liberate the oppressed," said Hannah McMahan, a student at the Wake Forest Divinity School in Winston-Salem, N.C. and one of the event's coordinators.
"One of the founding principles behind the New Baptist Covenant is that we can do more together than we can separately. This is our chance to unite around serving others and God."
The students represent Mercer University in Macon, Ga.; Morehouse College in Atlanta; Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C.; Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn.; Stetson University in Deland, Fla.; University of Texas in Austin, Texas; Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. and Wingate University in Wingate, N.C.
Mercer University's Atlanta campus will host the students, providing space for housing, worship and fellowship.
McMahan said she hoped the Baptist Collegiate Fellowship gathering would be the first of many partnerships between Baptist college students.
"These students are future Baptist leaders," McMahan said. "We hope to find ways for these young people to come together, modeling the [New Baptist] Covenant, and discovering ways to better serve our communities."
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