Nishioka will be February Meetings speaker at Maryville College

February 10, 2002

Rodger Nishioka, associate professor of Christian Education at the Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., will be the guest speaker for Maryville College's February Meetings, scheduled for Feb. 24-26 on the campus and at New Providence Presbyterian Church in Maryville.

The theme of February Meetings is "In, Out or Boomerang: Young Adults and the Church," and presentations are expected to incorporate Nishioka's research that compares the participation of young adults in mainline Protestant congregations and non-denominational independent Christian movements.

His February Meetings presentations will focus on three groups of people: Those people who grew up in the church, left and never returned; those who stayed and never left; and those who left but eventually returned.

Prior to his joining the faculty at Columbia, Nishioka served for 12 years as denominational staff in youth and adult ministry for the Presbyterian Church (USA). An ordained elder, Nishioka received his master's degree in theology from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Ill., in 1998.

Named "Educator of the Year" by the Association of Presbyterian Educators in 1992, Nishioka is the author of several published articles on reformed theology and faith development. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in social and cultural foundations of education at Georgia State University.

Even though Nishioka has spent much of his church ministry among youth and young adults, the Rev. Anne D. McKee, Maryville College Campus Minister, said she expects him to appeal to a large audience of believers.

"I think as Rodger speaks, students and young people will find themselves in their own spiritual journey; they will hear their own stories in his descriptions," McKee explained. "At the same time, church members and church leaders will find guidance for how to reach out across age groups.

"Rodger has a deep passion for Christ and for the church, as well as for youth and young adults," the campus minister added. "Besides that, he is a lot of fun. During these February Meetings, he will help us think deeply about what we believe and what is important in the world."

The Rev. Emily J. Anderson, senior pastor at New Providence Presbyterian Church, described Nishioka as an energetic, engaging speaker.

"Rodger is passionate about the Presbyterian Church and about calling the church to take its ministry with young people seriously," she said.

Nishioka will lead the 10:30 a.m. worship service at New Providence Presbyterian Church on Feb. 24. For the church's 7 p.m. evening worship, his address is entitled "Where Have All the Young Folks Gone? The Church and Ministry with Young Adults."

Moving to Maryville College's facilities on Feb. 25, Nishioka will lead an 11 a.m. program entitled "Young Adults and Church: The Place We Leave Behind." The 7 p.m. presentation on Feb. 25 is entitled "Young Adults and Church: There's No Place Like Home."

On Feb. 26, February Meetings will conclude with Nishioka's 11 a.m. message entitled "God's People Together: New Call, New Community."

With the exception of the Feb. 24 services, all February Meetings will be held in the Music Hall of the Maryville College Fine Arts Center.

Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, persons may call the Center for Campus Ministry at 865/981-8299.

Held annually since 1877, February Meetings emphasize spirituality, faith and outreach. In years past, guest speakers and special music have been highlights of the program.