July 10, 2013
Contact: Chloe Kennedy, News and New Media Writer
Later this month, more than 500 middle school students and youth leaders will descend on the Maryville College campus for five days of fellowship, study, worship and fun.
The 2013 Montreat Middle School Conference, which will be held July 24-28, is designed for rising sixth through ninth graders, as well as their youth leaders. This year’s theme is “Rolling Away Stones.”
“The purpose of the conference is to provide a setting where God can change lives,” said Evelyn Coleman, associate director of the Center for Youth and Young Adult Ministry at Montreat Conference Center. “Youth are comforted and supported, challenged and discomforted, encouraged and strengthened. They gather for worship, keynote, small group, and recreation each day of the conference.”
This is the first time Maryville College has hosted the annual conference, which started in 1999 as a regional Presbyterian Youth Connection event and began partnering with Montreat in 2001.
“We like having a PC(USA) connection, because we think it's great to show the kids that they have options beyond state schools – great options that encourage both their academic careers and their faith formation,” Coleman said. “When we visited, we found the staff to be incredibly welcoming, and we loved all of the green spaces. Of course, the fabulous Clayton Center was a large perk.”
Kathleen Farnham, director of church relations at Maryville College, said hosting Montreat is an ideal partnership.
“Presbyterian congregations – clergy, lay leaders, families, youth and college students – know Montreat as a wonderful, spirit-filled retreat center of faith, learning and community,” Farnham said. “We are delighted Montreat has chosen to partner with Maryville College for the upcoming middle school conference and look forward to a great week of friends, faith and fun with middle-schoolers and their leaders from across the country.”
Located in Montreat, N.C., Montreat Conference Center is one of three national conference centers affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The Center is annually visited by over 35,000 people “seeking physical and spiritual renewal in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina,” according to the website.
During the conference, Coleman hopes that attendees will have the opportunity to grow in faith and “build relationships with other youth that will last a lifetime.”
“I hope that kids will have a lot of fun and will learn something new about themselves and about God,” she said. “On a practical note, I hope they will enjoy all of the great space that Maryville College has to offer.”
Coleman said conference organizers are still accepting registration and can accept groups if space allows. For more information about the conference, please visit http://www.montreat.org/current/2013-middle-school-conference.
The Montreat Conference Center, as a mission center of the Presbyterian Church (USA), seeks to glorify God by serving the whole Church of Jesus Christ by calling all God’s people to a place set apart, for spiritual commitment and renewal, to grow in discipleship, to build relationships, and to prepare one another for Christ’s ministry in the world.
Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state‘s third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for its academic rigor and its focus on the liberal arts, Maryville is where students come to stretch their minds, stretch themselves and learn how to make a difference in the world. Total enrollment for the fall 2013 semester was 1,168.