MC students pursue summer mission work and ministry

July 30, 2014

When Maryville College was founded in 1819 as the Southern and Western Theological Seminary, the Rev. Isaac Anderson’s goal was to prepare individuals for ministry.

Anderson charged his students to “do good on the largest possible scale,” and from its inception, Maryville College has worked to live out that mission by developing thousands of leaders for the church and the world.

Several Maryville College students and recent graduates are spending this summer pursuing mission work or church ministry, which demonstrates that the mission is still inspiring students nearly two centuries later.

The Rev. Dr. Anne McKee, campus minister, couldn’t be happier.

When McKee came to Maryville College in 2001, search committee members said that they wanted more MC graduates to consider ministry as a first career option. Receiving Lilly Endowment funding to develop Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation helped the College get a strong start in introducing students to the idea of full-time service in the church.

“We developed scholarship programs, took seminary visits, prompted conversations with pastors, and encouraged reflection about whether ministry might be something God was calling them to pursue,” McKee said. “I truly believe that as students have a positive experience with church and as they have opportunities to imagine themselves in church leadership, the spirit will lead them to consider ministry as a call.”

Atchley trains with missionaries in New Zealand

With a desire to pursue training in missions and experience an international setting, recent graduate Sydney Atchley ’14 will go to Intimacy 2 Impact, Youth With A Mission’s (YWAM) Discipleship Training School in Tauranga, New Zealand.

YWAM, an interdenominational, nonprofit Christian missionary organization, hosts more than 200 Discipleship Training Schools all over the world, including Intimacy 2 Impact. The schools welcome people of all ages to train with missionaries for three months, then pursue outreach in another country for three additional months, explained Atchley, who is from Morristown, Tenn. After the three-month training phase ends in October, Atchley will begin outreach in the Asia/Pacific region.

“Partnering with the Tauranga House of Prayer, I will take my desire to serve God and discover my gifts and specific calling to serve in order to make the biggest impact for His mission,” she said.

Burns pursues mission work in China

Cole Burns ‘16 is volunteering with Evergreen, a nonprofit organization that works to be a part of China’s economic and spiritual development through doing business as missions.

While in the Shanxi Province of China, Burns is volunteering as the activities director of Joy in the Journey, the nonprofit’s English summer camp, where he will set up and facilitate all camp games and activities. He will also lead weekly devotionals with Chinese college students who are serving as camp counselors and English teachers.

“I’ll also be given the opportunity while there to be able to share about my own walk with Christ and lead Bible lessons with the middle school and high school campers who may have never had the chance to hear about God before,” said Burns, a rising junior from Kodak, Tenn. “I’m really excited about these opportunities, because I love being able to share about my faith with others, and I have a passion for working with youth.”

Hickman interns with nonprofit ministry group

Recent graduate Chris Hickman ’14 will intern with the Crossover Group/Crossover Ministries International, a nonprofit ministry organization.

As part a mission team organized by the nonprofit, Hickman will travel to the Dominican Republic for a week to work with independent missionary Mike Williams, who does mission work in the city of Sosua.

“He directs a ministry that feeds homeless people, builds houses and villages, teaches marketable skills to women so they can avoid prostitution/human trafficking, teaches children and provides clean water – and he does it all with tremendous love and humility,” said Hickman, who is from Knoxville, Tenn. “Honestly, I think he is a superhero.”

Throughout his internship, Hickman will lead a youth group at a church plant in the Greenville, S.C., area. He said he will also do administrative and event planning, as well as travel to put on events and work with other ministries.

“I don’t know if I will make a vocation out of ministry, but I believe God has called all of his followers to be ministers to a world that is full of pain and strife, and that is what I’m interested in doing,” Hickman said.

Jones develops sense of vocational call

Sarah Dianne Jones ‘16 is spending the summer working at the First Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa, Ala. Throughout the summer, she will be involved in a variety of programs and aspects of ministry, including attending the Montreat Youth Conference in North Carolina; a mission trip to Washington, D.C.; and attending the Montreat Middle School Conference, which will be held on the Maryville College campus. She will also work with various committees at the church and assist with programs such as Vacation Bible School.

“I was interested in this opportunity because I am considering going into ministry, but I am not completely sure if it's right for me,” said Jones, a rising junior who is from Jonesboro, Ark.
“I am hoping that this opportunity to grow and use the gifts and skills that I have been given through doing good work in the church will help me to further develop my sense of vocational call.”

Rose works with equine ministry in Mexico

Nick Rose ‘16 is partnering with The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM) and working with Rancho El Camino’s equine ministry, which is located in the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula on Mexico’s Pacific coast.

“They deal with primarily impoverished kids in the local town – the kids are mostly kids affected by the drug trade, since it is along the drug trafficking routes,” said Rose, a rising junior who is from Knoxville, Tenn. “Most of them are introverted and lock everyone out, but when you put them next to a big, fluffy horse, they open up like a flower and that allows for us to introduce them to the love of God.”

By Chloe Kennedy, Assistant Director of Communications


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 offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2014 semester is 1,213.