ULC Update for February 2019

FEBRUARY 28, 2018

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Hello to my Camp Hill UMC family!

As a new year begins, one event my family looks forward to is THON at Penn State University, a major student-run, philanthropic, dance marathon. This event has been near and dear to myself for years as one of my closest friends had a daughter, Ellen, that battled pediatric cancer. After a nearly five year battle, the Lord called her home. Her family was supported during those five years, and continues to receive support now through the Four Diamonds Foundation, which is the organization that benefits from THON. The Four Diamonds Foundation provides financial, emotional, and medical support to families of pediatric cancer patients. They also fund groundbreaking research. I encourage you to look up the Four Diamonds Foundation and THON to learn more about their incredible work.

THON takes place at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College. The event is a 46 hour long dance marathon that is 100% student run. There is no sitting or sleeping for 46 hours. As my family stood in the stands of the BJC watching the monstrous crowd of eager students, I began to think of Galatians 5:22-26. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self- control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” I was standing and watching the upcoming generation of leaders, working members of society, community members, etc. as they exemplified every fruit of the Spirit in such a selfless way.

Love—These students were showing love to children plagued with pediatric cancer. These children were complete strangers in many cases until this weekend, but the students of Penn State University worked year-round to host this event for them. 

Joy—If there is one word to describe THON weekend as a whole, that word would be joy. The smiles and laughter between young children and college students is contagious. It seems to encompass all that’s right in the world.

Peace—For this 46 hour event, the sick children aren’t confined to their illness. They can find peace in knowing that there is a community of young people rooting for them, and working hard to pave the way for a cure.

Patience—46 hours doesn’t go by fast when you haven’t sat down or slept. The dancers that stand for the full 46 hours must have extreme patience. The planning and anticipation for this event starts the last day of the event the year prior. It’s a 24/7, 365-day planning process. That requires patience.

Kindness—These are college students. Many college students would use their free time for napping, spending time with friends and family, and catching up on school work. These college students devote their time to THON. That takes unimaginable kindness.

Goodness—It’s safe to say that college students willing to devote their time to a fundraiser of this magnitude are good kids. This is a volunteer position. It’s done out of the goodness of their hearts.

Faithfulness—The students remain faithful to the families and kids that they fund raise for. Ellen’s organization of students made house visits to see her, sent her packages, wrote her letters, made phone calls, and everything in between. This faithfulness to her was year round, not just for 46 hours.

Gentleness—The hugs and open arms at THON come from gentle hearts.

Self-Control—Again, standing for 46 hours can not be an easy feat. It requires self-control for these students to stay on their feet and stay committed to the goal.

I felt challenged by these young people to become a better version of myself. 1 Timothy 4:12 states, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” The students of Penn State did just that. The example has been set for me to be a better person, a better Christian, and a better member of this Unified Leadership Council. The ULC speaks often on being moved by the Holy Spirit to do good things. I encourage you all to connect with the Holy Spirit and see how you can be moved.

Don Powell, Nominations & Leadership Development Liaison & Alternate Lay Member to Annual Conference (Class of 2019)