HIGH POINT, N.C., Aug. 12, 2014 – Rev. Preston Davis, minister to the university, recently represented High Point University at the Millennial Leaders Conference in New York. Of the more than 400 applicants, Davis was one of 38 selected to be a part of the first cohort of spiritual leaders and social activists gathered to discuss how spirituality and social advocacy work together for change.
Davis spent a week engaged with the other participants in deliberate conversation on the significance of spirituality to their various forms of social justice advocacy. He also had the chance to dialogue with prominent intellectuals, including Cornel West, professor of philosophy and Christian practice at Union Theological Seminary and professor emeritus at Princeton University, Paul Monteiro, director of AmeriCorps VISTA, and Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, spiritual home of Martin Luther King Jr.
“I was honored to be included in such an inspiring group of young leaders, bringing together their faith and work. I envision our students being these kinds of risk takers for a more just world,” Davis says. “HPU teaches its students to live extraordinary lives — lives defined by purpose, meaning and intentionality. Helping our students engage in the spiritual life is critical to living an examined life. The spiritual life is what leads not just to self-awareness, but also awareness of the injustices and beauties in the world. The spiritual life is what ‘cleans the lenses’ so we can see rightly, do rightly. We want our students to be transformative actors in the world. We don’t simply want them to be successful and significant for themselves. We want our students to be world shapers — to make it a more just and loving place for all people.”
Dr. Carole Stoneking, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at HPU, recommended Davis for the conference because of his vision for combining new ideas for the Chapel ministry with long-honored traditions of educating church and community leaders at the university.
“Preston is challenging HPU’s Chapel ministry to be the embodiment of enthusiastic, hopeful engagement and action — one that empowers our community to explore questions of vocational discernment, social justice and spiritual growth, even in the face of cultural atheism and despair,” says Stoneking. “I hope his experience at the Millennial Leaders Conference will help him lead the Chapel program in playing an integral role in the university’s conversation around the role of liberal arts education and HPU’s strategic vision, which represents a shift in higher education toward a more student-centered and character-focused understanding of the godly work of preparing the next generation to live well-formed lives of virtue and passion.”
The Millennial Leaders conference, organized by Union Theological Seminary, brought together activists and faith leaders between the ages of 21 and 35 from a variety of religious traditions, including no religion. The diverse group of Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Humanists included professionals working in a variety of faith communities as well as on issues such as immigration reform, economic inequality and community organizing.