As the Kentucky Conference of The United Methodist Church looks toward our youth as the future of the church, the Ebony Exploration Retreat held by the Southeastern Jurisdiction Office of African American Ministries for Lake Junaluska is an ideal program set in the right atmosphere for training principled Christian leaders. Ebony Exploration is an annual weekend retreat intended to provide space for African American youth in the ninth through the twelfth grades to explore Christian ministry as vocation.
NCCD, the Board of Ordained Ministry, and the Louisville District sponsored 10 young people to participate in the Third Annual Ebony Exploration Retreat from April 9 to 11, 2010, including a youth member of Buechel UMC, Andre Tilford and youth member of Wesley UMC, Kendra Cummings. Reverend Dwight Hughes, Angela Cox, and Brenda Harrison from Buechel UMC participated as chaperones.
“We learned a lot about evangelism and faith within the church,” said Tilford of his Ebony Exploration experience.
One of the criteria to be considered as a participant was to be serious about exploring ordained and/or lay ministry as a Christian vocation.
“I feel that I am being called to ministry. I think that I’m leaning towards more children and music ministry,” Cummings said when asked about discerning a call to ministry. Tilford says that he could see himself using entertainment as a way to minister, but “others say pastoral ministry may be in [his] future.”
When asked what he would say to others who are considering participating in Ebony Exploration, Tilford said, “Don't anticipate the activities; participate in them and you are sure to get something out of it.” Cummings said that the fellowship and having an opportunity to worship with peers was what she encourages those interested to look forward to. “You just grow closer with Christ and get to express your calling with others. There is also prayer and scripture that helps you along your journey. Overall it was just a great experience.”
Cummings will be entering her freshman year at Kentucky State University this fall. Tilford will be a senior at Jeffersontown High School this fall where he is involved with the school wrestling program.