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THE PHILANDER FORWARD YOUTH THEOLOGY INSTITUTE is an answer to prayers for parents and program participants. Sponsored by a grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc, The program curriculum, designed by the Rev. Maxine Allen, Assistant Director of Mission and Ministry for the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church, extended to rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors an opportunity to deeply explore the sacred scriptures, and engage in theological reflection to further explore God’s Call upon their lives. The theme of this year’s Institute was I’m Turnt! The Ecumenical Institute, held June 2-11, 2017 on the campus of PSC, provided students educational exploration of ministry and service using Mark Batterson’s book, All In, and rap artist Lacrae’s book, Unashamed. Students were engaged in meaningful discussions; made site visits to nonprofits, and participated in theological reflection.

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During the course of the two weeks, daily rhythms of academic study and religious reflection were balanced with worship, leadership and immersion experiences. Students were exposed to different faith traditions, service opportunities, and diverse clergy across Little Rock, Arkansas.

A retreat weekend at Camp Tanako, a UMC-related camp, was the culminating activity. As a key component for connecting to God in nature, this experienced allowed the Institute’s participants to enjoy zip lining, horseback riding and canoeing. Additional highlights throughout the week included visiting the Arkansas Foodbank, Better Community Developers, Mosaic Templars Museum, and Little Rock City Tour. The week-long activities concluded with a message from gospel artist James Fortune. Reunion experiences are also planned in order to enhance learning and to provide opportunities for continued engagement with participants throughout the school year.

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