What Will God Do at Urbana 15?

Welcome to Urbana 15! The Urbana Team has been preparing for this week for so long, and we are incredibly excited you’re here!

My own Urbana experience in 2006 was a game changer for me! It gave me a bigger picture of God and of what it means to be part of the global family of believers. It challenged me to name the places in my life where I was content with doing things my way and to lay down my own personal dreams for the sake of God’s greater mission. In fact, it was at Urbana 06 that I decided to join staff with InterVarsity—a job that I love and am still doing today. I pray that your Urbana experience will be just as life-changing.

I’m especially excited about a few really unique aspects of Urbana. First, I’m excited about the potential impact of 16,000 people gathered to create space to hear from the Lord about his work in the world. Second, I’m excited about the opportunity and privilege we have to hear from and be invited into partnership with the global Church. I got to hear early versions of speakers’ talks from the main stage, so I know that you are definitely in for some powerful truths and stories! Third, I’m excited about the many ways to engage God that you’ll find here, from worship, performing arts pieces, and speakers to seminars, missions agencies, and Roommate Huddles. There are so many ways to experience God at Urbana.

That means that Urbana can also be a little overwhelming. Pacing yourself is key. These tips can help you navigate the week well:

  • Take time to look through the Urbana Handbook/App today. Go over the schedule, pick seminars, and highlight things you want to check out. Because there are a lot of opportunities here, it helps to have a plan!
  • Be open. You will be hearing from diverse voices and perspectives. And they will have words that you need to hear. Don’t automatically tune them out. God can speak and challenge you through them if you allow them access.
  • Connect with people different from you. Hear their stories. Pray with them. Learn from them.
  • Get rest! Seriously. It’s a full week, so put yourself in a position to hear from God.

Be open. You will be hearing from diverse voices and perspectives. And they will have words that you need to hear. Don’t automatically tune them out. God can speak and challenge you through them if you allow them access.

I’ve been praying for you and for this week that we have together. I’m praying that you all would have an encounter with the living God, and would hear and respond to his voice. I’m also praying that this student generation would go out from here and be change agents on their campuses, in their communities, and around the world. And I’m praying that we would have a deeper vision for partnership and a better understanding of what it means to be the global body of Christ—of rejoicing with those who rejoice but also truly mourning with those who mourn.

Would you join me in praying those same prayers, for yourself and for all those gathered here? You might also use this short prayer as you move through each day: “Lord, help me be open to all you want to do in and through me this week.”

God can do incredible things through people who are surrendered to him and open to whatever he calls them to. May that be true of us all at Urbana 15.



Why does a political topic started by the democratic president Obama have a platform at Urbana???? Which was put into context of dividing people before the next election cycle. You should read a paper written by Professor William Julius Wilson of Harvard University has argued that "class was becoming more important than race". I did not like the context of a place where we should promote Jesus got used as a political platform by someone. I do not think Jesus and his word was any place in your speech you gave the morning of 12/28/2015

All Lives matter of all races. Why do shirts only say "Black lives matter" Guess the Hispanic decent, Chinese decent and other human races don't matter. You presentation is too political.

Why do you suppress the posting of all lives matter Chinese, Hispanic, Russian, Mexican, And ALL THE HUMAN RACES and CULTURES???

By Daniel S. Schatz As a Unitarian Universalist minister, it is sometimes my role to answer correspondence that comes to our congregation from members of the community. Last night, I received this brief note in my inbox: Good Evening: I am very upset at the signage that is outside of your church stating that “Black Lives Matter.” Since when has God chosen to see us by the color of our skin. The sign should be taken down and replaced with ALL LIVES MATTER. How will this nation of ours ever join together if we are constantly looking at everyone by their race. Unless you were actually there in Ferguson or in New York or Cleveland, you do not have all the facts. A Bucks County Resident It’s a sentiment I’d heard before, and I gave a great deal of thought before sending the following response: Dear [name], Thank you for writing with your concern. Of course all lives matter. Central to Unitarian Universalism is the affirmation of the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Sadly, our society has a long history of treating some people as less valuable than others. Study after study has confirmed that in equivalent situations, African Americans and Latinos are treated with deadly force far more often than White people, and authorities held less accountable. Unfortunately, racial bias continues to exist even when it is no longer conscious—this too is confirmed by multiple studies. A lack of accountability in the use of force combined with unconscious bias is too often a deadly combination – and one that could place police officers, as well as the public, in great danger. To say that Black lives matter is not to say that other lives do not; indeed, it is quite the reverse—it is to recognize that all lives do matter, and to acknowledge that African Americans are often targeted unfairly (witness the number of African Americans accosted daily for no reason other than walking through a White neighborhood—including some, like young Trayvon Martin, who lost their lives) and that our society is not yet so advanced as to have become truly color blind. This means that many people of goodwill face the hard task of recognizing that these societal ills continue to exist, and that White privilege continues to exist, even though we wish it didn’t and would not have asked for it. I certainly agree that no loving God would judge anyone by skin color. As a White man, I have never been followed by security in a department store, or been stopped by police for driving through a neighborhood in which I didn’t live. My African American friends have, almost to a person, had these experiences. Some have been through incidents that were far worse. I owe it to the ideal that we share, the ideal that all lives matter, to take their experiences seriously and listen to what they are saying. To deny the truth of these experiences because they make me uncomfortable would be to place my comfort above the safety of others, and I cannot do that. I very much appreciate you writing to me, and am glad that we share the goal of coming to a day when people will not be judged, consciously or unconsciously, on the basis of their race. I believe that day is possible, too, but that it will take a great deal of work to get there. That work begins by listening to one another, and listening especially to the voices of those who have the least power in society. If nothing else is clear from the past few weeks, it is painfully evident that a great many people do not believe that they are treated fairly. Healing begins by listening to those voices and stories.

Someone (or John?), I was not able to publish your comments immediately as I was watching Michelle Higgins's talk at Urbana 15. Let me encourage you to allow yourself to engage with Michelle Higgins's talk from this evening. She has some excellent words to say that respond very well to your concerns. Watch at: https://urbana.org/message/michelle-higgins

I think Daniel Shatz statements above, explain it pretty well. Sometimes a little clarification up front, can help a dialogue move forward, and prevent people from feeling threatened and digging in their heels.

When you take a political stance you may loss you non profit status within the states you operate such as NY. You are pushing a political message. Plus since when are All White People who work in the Church "White Supremacy"? What are you saying all white people are Neo Nazis or KKK? You people are push a message of hate. When you study American history the bible was spread later into all countries including foreign countries in all printed languages. Unless you area quoting about some of the top ten millionaire preacher. Which maybe wolfs in sheep's clothing. I am not bound to White Supremacy as she said. I am not living in a limit she is placing me under either. She should also not that most latino in the us census also claimed to be white Caucasian. Rather then check the box. Also, If you took a class on statistics you will also be taught that facts can be manipulated by the pool of people you ask the questions too and so on. Not everything on paper is correct. Just as the people you had speaking is not correct.

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These blogs are the words of the writers and do not represent InterVarsity or Urbana. The same is true of any comments which may be posted about any blog entries. Submitted comments may or may not be posted within the blog, at the blogger's discretion.