Exploration 2011 is a United Methodist program for young people who are interested in Ministry.
It’s also where you meet shoeless people.
I went to Exploration 1999 in California when I was a freshman in college. One of the presenters came up to the pulpit holding up his shoe and started waiving his hands around. I eventually realized he identified as deaf and an interpreter spoke his sign language into the microphone. I don’t remember the content of that sermon but remember thinking “hey, if a person who holds his shoes over his head like a crazy person can be a minister, I probably can too.”
Years later, I would meet that shoeless person again, sitting next to me at a church in Boston where I was in Seminary. His name is Rev. Kirk VanGilder and he actually did wear shoes. We became good friends and he served as an interim pastor for about 6 months at the church I did my field education at, so I got to learn a lot from him both about ministry and the deaf community. Kirk is now a chaplain and professor at Gallaudet University, a university for deaf students and I wish him God’s blessings on him and his educational/supportive ministry there.
In short, Exploration is a great program where you meet crazy Methodists and somewhere along the trajectory of your ministry, those crazy Methodists may end up being great friends and companions on the journey. I hope you get to experience it and attend Exploration 2011.
As a side note, I’ll be a panelist at Exploration 2011 on a discussion about social media and the church. So if you go, look me up! I’ll be the crazy person who holds his shoes over his head whilst blogging about it.
(This blog post is part of a synchblog called for by the Exploration 2011 committee)