By Debbonnaire Kovacs, posted 4-27-16
There’s a conference coming up in a few weeks, May 22-28, which Paul the apostle might like to attend. Perhaps he’d bring some of his Greek and Roman friends. The theme and title of the conference is “To the Unknown God.”
The conference, called ACF Institute, is put on by Adventist Christian Fellowship, and is “an introductory short-term campus mission training to prepare students and young adults in establishing Adventist campus ministries for Christ on non-Adventist college and university campuses. ACFI offers an overview/introduction of campus life, Christian worldview, discipleship, personal evangelism and programming for ministry on a college campus. Participants will come away with competencies in understanding the campus environment, sharing their faith on campus, organizing for a campus program, small group leadership and leading students in a life of Christian discipleship.”
If you are an artist or graphic designer, there is an added challenge for you—ACFI is looking for a winning T-shirt design. See more info in our Arts News department.
Historically, Seventh-day Adventist families have been encouraged to send their children to Adventist schools. It has always been true that many families did not do so, either because they disagreed or, more likely, because they could not afford it. In recent decades, the numbers of Adventist families who send their children to Adventist schools, particularly to colleges and universities, have been decreasing to the point that some schools have closed. At some point—it’s difficult if not impossible to determine exactly when, people began organizing religious support groups for Adventist youth on secular campuses. I can remember as early as my own academy (Adventist high school, often a boarding school) and college days (1970s and 80s), discussions pro and con such organizations.
By 2005, when the North American Division created, there were already some groups, many of which still exist and may use other names than ACF.
The stated mission of ACF is to “Build Christian fellowship chapters on non-Adventist campuses that honor God and nurture the spiritual lives of students. Engage students in the mission of the Church through relational evangelism and Christ-like student fellowships. Empower local ACF chapters, churches, and sponsors through pastoral support, professional training, and access to resources.”
According to this same website, there are currently 125 registered Adventist groups in NAD territory, and in fact, the organization has its own Wikipedia page, which states that these groups can be found on “public university and other tertiary campuses across the United States, Canada, and beyond.” Some are funded by local conferences, some by local churches, and some independently by students.
Most are run by students, and many have their own mission statements. “These have included goals such as helping students explore and share their faith, helping students adjust to life on campus, and providing opportunities for Christian fellowship, community service, Bible study, and recreation.” Ibid.
If you or someone you know belongs to one of these groups, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section. And by the way—try the conference. And bring some of your Greek and Roman friends! They might like to meet the Unknown God.