Urbana 09, one of the country's largest student missions conferences, expects more than 20,000 people from every state and many nations next month at its 22nd triennial event in St. Louis.
Organized by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, the Dec. 27-31 conference will focus on the most pressing global issues currently faced by those active in missions around the world. The four main focuses at Urbana 09 are: movement of peoples, money in terms of missions funding, environmental stewardship, and divisions between peoples.
"God is at work in the midst of all kinds of unique challenges," said Urbana director Jim Tebbe. "Attendees will hear speakers from a variety of cultural contexts discuss how God is at work and will also learn about the needs that still remain. They will also experience worship with thousands of others in one of the most diverse worship gatherings in North America."
Each day, the program will focus on a different issue and challenge.
For the issue of movement of peoples, speakers will discuss how despite great challenges posed by immigration, migration and human trafficking, there is also a great opportunity for people affected by movement to come to know Christ. Urbana will introduce the different types of people movements around the world and make the case that it is important to understand this issue for missions practitioners and missions supporters.
On the topic of money, Urbana will discuss how the Global South is taking on greater leadership in missions and the future role of North Americans in missions. Presenters will address the question of if North Americans will simply be given the role of financially supporting missions around the world or if they will participate in other ways.
The missions conference will also help young Christians to understand how the most vulnerable people on earth are affected by environmental degradation and how followers of Christ are to share the grace, peace and joy found in Christ to people who are separated by race, ethnicity, politics, national borders and ideologies.
Urbana 09 will be much like its predecessor in 2006, which also took place in St. Louis. More than 22,000 students had attended the 2006 event where they were called to change the world. Participants at Urbana 06 were educated on issues such as AIDS, slum communities in the developing world, sex trafficking, and African missions.
Urbana sponsor InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is an interdenominational ministry to university students in the United States, with over 32,000 students involved on 550 campuses nationwide. The first InterVarsity student missions conference was held in Toronto in 1946.
On the Web: www.urbana09.org