Thrills at 35,000 feet

Destination: Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE) Annual Event, Chicago

January 28, 2016

Front row: Macy Cottom - Matthews, NC (senior), Leigh Ramsey - Anderson, SC (senior), Kelly McCord - Greer, SC (senior). Back row: Jacob Kennedy - Wilson, NC (sophomore), Rebecca Davis, Sam Shields - Columbus, GA (senior).

Front row: Macy Cottom - Matthews, NC (senior), Leigh Ramsey - Anderson, SC (senior), Kelly McCord - Greer, SC (senior). Back row: Jacob Kennedy - Wilson, NC (sophomore), Rebecca Davis, Sam Shields - Columbus, GA (senior). —Nicole Abdnour

Chicago

Winging their way from Clinton, S.C. —home of Presbyterian College—to Chicago, Illinois, five students and their mentor, Dr. Rebecca L. Davis, could scarcely contain their enthusiasm. 

They were headed not for some kind of early spring break adventure, but rather for a winter educational experience like no other. 

At least not for Christian education majors. 

The one sophomore and four seniors—all Christian education majors—were on their way to APCE 2016, “God’s New Thing: See it! Hear it! Live it!” 

“When you’re there, you can hear Frances Taylor Gench,” said Davis, the college’s assistant professor of Religion & Christian Education, over the top of the seats in front of her. “She’s great. She teaches at Union Presbyterian Seminary. She wrote this book.” 

Oohs and aahs ensued. 

For Davis—who served the church for 25 years as a pastor and educator before joining the college’s faculty in 2010—this will be her sixth year taking students to the annual event. 

“I know the value of connecting students with the church,” she said. 

Davis said that her predecessors at the college also regularly took students to the yearly APCE conference, for which they receive financial assistance from APCE’s South Atlantic Region, the college’s office of Spiritual and Religious Life, and from a leadership fund to which congregations regularly contribute. 

“With 20 majors in the department, Presbyterian College has the only remaining undergraduate program in Christian education of any of the mainline denominations,” Davis said. “We are the last in the PC(USA).” 

The 2016 APCE gathering, held from January 27–30 at the Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, features such leaders as Lillian Daniel, Otis Moss III, Cláudio Carvalhaes, Nanette Sawyer, John Vest, Luke Hyder, and Shawna Bowman. Through worship, workshops, “Ed Talks,” “Ignite Talks,” Marketplace vendors, resources, and more, APCE carries out its mission “to connect, enrich, empower, and sustain all persons serving in educational ministry in the Reformed family of churches.” 

Macy Cottom, a senior from Matthews, N.C., and a member of Matthews Presbyterian Church, said that she was looking forward to attending the annual event for a second time. Following her graduation in May, she hopes to go to seminary in order to serve in congregations as a pastor and educator. 

“I’m looking at seminaries now,” she said with a smile. “Nothing official yet.”