On Jan. 27, upwards of 30 UMHB students piled into the university’s vans and drove four hours to East Texas Baptist University in Marshall. ETBU was host for this year’s Christian Association of Student Leaders Conference.
CASL was formulated and started by UMHB’s very own Dr. George Loutherback 13 years ago, and since then the conference has expanded to serve almost every major Baptist university in Texas.
Each year in January students from schools such as Howard Payne, Hardin-Simmons, Dallas Baptist, Houston Baptist, East Texas Baptist, and UMHB come together to study leadership.
Last year the conference was held on Houston Baptist’s campus, and next year the conference will travel to Dallas Baptist University. UMHB hosted the conference in 2008.
Senior history major Jennifer “J” Larkin has attended CASL for the past four years, attending two years as a Ministry Leadership Council (MLC) leader as well as another two as a member of Campus Activities Board.
Larkin said “CASL has impacted the way that I view leadership and taught me that I can love people in being a leader.”
At CASL, leaders from each university’s Campus Activities Boards, Baptist Student Ministries, Student Government Associations, Residence Life, Welcome Week committees and recreational staff gather.
Sophomore exercise sports science major Aaron Miller said, “Having the opportunity to understand how each individual leader functions on their campus helped me form new ideas on how to lead events and programs on our campus.”
Miller serves on the Ministry Leadership Council as an internationals leader and is also a co-director of Missions Emphasis Week 2011.
The conference program included three major speakers and four round table discussion group times, the last three immediately following a speaker.
This year’s speakers included a pastor, Gene Wilkes; an educator, Sherilyn Emberton; and a politician, Bryan Hughes.
This aray of speakers reflects the many different leadership groups attending the conference: leaders in ministry, campus activities and student government.
The three speakers touched on valuable leadership topics such as servant leadership, adaptation, personal and spiritual care and generational differences in leadership roles.
Freshman math major Ryan Frusha attended the conference through the Freshmen Ministries group at the BSM.
He said he was “personally challenged to look at (his) life and see if it measures up to God’s standard for a man of God.”
The round table groups provided leaders with a chance to meet students from other similar universities and build relationships with them, while constructively discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each campus.
Larkin expressed that, through the round tables, “CASL has been a place for me to come meet other people who, understanding the question, we all ask: ‘What would Jesus do?’”
Frusha said through the round tables he “learned a lot about what our school does well and what we can do even better.”
Frusha was one of several freshmen to attend the conference. They will possibly be asked to step into leadership roles next semester, making their attendance at the conference a vital step in the development as leaders.
Larkin, who graduates in May, said, “I’m encouraged to see so many freshmen already interested in growing in leadership and confident that I safely leave the future of UMHB in their hands.”