Methodist students are planning a national conference at a time of of uncertainty and controversy for students in the UK. They plan to engage in discussions about the future of both the Christian Church and the student movement from a Methodist perspective.
The conference, entitled Paving the Way, will take place from 28th to 30th January 2011 at Selly Oak Methodist Church in Birmingham.
There has not been an annual Methodist student conference for some years. But the University of Birmingham Methodist Society have taken the initiative by offering to host the event, which they hope will be the first of a new tradition.
The President of Methodist Conference, Rev Alison Tomlin, will give two talks over the weekend, with the theme of what the church looks like for students of today in mind. With the recent decisions regarding hikes in tuition fees, organisers say that this is likely to be even more relevant as students consider the future of higher education.
“Students are not the Church of tomorrow, but the Church of today,” said Rev Kara Cooper, Methodist chaplain at the University of Birmingham, " I am excited about this opportunity for students to meet and explore this journey of faith together”.
The conference is open to all higher education students and chaplains, whether Methodist or not.
"Times are not only uncertain for the Church, but also for universities,” said Matthew Jones, a Methodist student.
He added, “A space to discuss what it means to be a Christian student, made especially significant in light of recent decisions in Parliament, can only prove to be enlightening as we all have something to learn from each other”.
Last week, the Student Christian Movement (SCM) condemned Parliament's decision to raise tuition fees and endorsed nonviolent direct action as a form of resistance to the measure.