High school youth participate in MC’s Expanding Horizons theology retreat program

High school youth participate in MC’s Expanding Horizons theology retreat program

June 19, 2017

A group of 13 high school youth from Tennessee, South Carolina and Alabama, along with four Maryville College students, spent the week of June 4-9 on the Maryville College campus for Expanding Horizons, an annual retreat program designed to stimulate theological investigation while fostering community and building leadership capacity in high school youth.

The theme for this year’s Expanding Horizons, which was organized by Maryville Adventures in Studying Theology (MAST), was “Salvation: A Real Lifesaver!” In addition to living in Gibson Hall, dining together in Pearsons Hall, reflecting together in small groups, and worshiping every night in the Center for Campus Ministry, a major component of the program included studying the variety of ways salvation is written about both in the Bible and in contemporary theology. Led by Associate Professor of Religion Dr. Phillip Sherman, Campus Minister Rev. Dr. Anne McKee and MAST Program Administrator Jordan Conerty, students grappled with various scripture passages, including Exodus, the Psalms and the Gospel of Luke, as well as parts of Brian McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy, to draw out the complexity of salvation as it is understood in various Christian traditions.

In addition to classroom sessions, the cohort also volunteered with Knox Area Rescue Ministries (KARM), where they pre-sorted donated goods at their East Knoxville distribution center; participated in Mountain Challenge’s low-ropes and Alpine Tower challenges; and hiked to Spruce Flats Falls in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Of their experiences, students said that they learned how to read scripture more thoroughly, gained confidence in speaking freely about what they believe, and were surprised at the ways they could grow such a vibrant community with fellow students with different beliefs in such a short amount of time.

“It never ceases to amaze me how quickly Expanding Horizons students go from being complete strangers when they arrive on campus to being a tight knit community that loves and supports each other – it almost happens overnight,” Conerty said. “But that is why Maryville Adventures in Studying Theology organizes Expanding Horizons every year – to create a space where curious students at different stages in their walk of faith are able to come together, ask questions of each other, and engage with scripture and theology to broaden their understanding of the Christian tradition.”

For more information, please visit maryvillecollege.edu/MAST or contact Conerty at 865.981.8180 or jordan.conerty@maryvillecollege.edu.

Are you upset that you missed out on Expanding Horizons? You’re in luck! Expanding Horizons will be held again in early summer 2018. So, if you or someone you know might be interested in checking out our program or suggesting a theme for next year, please follow Maryville Adventures in Studying Theology on Twitter and Instagram!


Maryville Adventures in Studying Theology (MAST) is a Lilly Endowment-funded resource at Maryville College that strengthens youth ministry by offering educational programming that deepens theological investigation, builds leadership capacity, and fosters an intentional community of youth, youth ministers and laity.   

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 2017 semester is 1,181.