Submitted to the Herald Review

WILMORE, Ky. — Directors of the Youth Becoming Leaders Institute (YBL) have announced Bethany Maciejewski — a high school senior and member of the Hersey United Methodist Church — is one of only 30 students nationwide,and the only one from Michigan, accepted into the selective, two-week, residential institute to take place June 6 to 17 at Asbury University.

In partnership with the Lilly Endowment, which offered Asbury a $600,000 grant through its high school Youth Theology Institutes initiative, YBL is open to select high school sophomores, juniors and seniors who are committed to Christ, leaders in their local communities, academically gifted and interested in exploring a call to ministry. Applications into the program were accepted until mid-March.

Dr. Brian Hull, professor of Youth Ministry at Asbury and project director for YBL, says the camp is an expression of Asbury’s confidence in the value of youth leadership, as well as a much-needed opportunity for hands-on leadership training.

“One of the things we know from research is that students who have opportunities to lead when they’re young step into those roles sooner as adults,” Hull said. “Asbury has a long tradition of believing in young people, and in a world that often doesn’t, it’s important that we stand in that belief.”

The theme for YBL this year is social justice. Alongside faculty mentors from Asbury University and Asbury Theological Seminary, students will examine faith, social justice and the role of the church in global issues. Faculty will lead students through materials and research methods while grounding coursework in real-world leadership applications.

On the last day of the event, students will complete a session with a mentor of their choice — either a pastor or another Christian leader — from their home community. After YBL is over, students will continue to implement what they’ve learned with some homework: a ministry project with their mentor.

“It’s pretty obvious that the world needs better leaders, and the church needs better leaders,” Hull said. “YBL is a way for Asbury to partner with the local church, helping raise up young people who are equipped to lead — not sometime far off in the future, but today.”