News from the Tennessee Valley Religion

‘Freshman9’ to offer college help

By Melanie B. Smith · 340-2468

Adelle Sutton of Hazel Green went to The University of Alabama in Huntsville with a background of faith.

“In Alabama you grow up in church or at least know about Christ,” she said.

But classes that presented evolution as “law” and discounted belief in God compelled her to sit down with her Bible and her textbooks to decide what she believed, Sutton said.

It is at such a moment that many students waver in their faith. Two-thirds of young adults who had attended a Protestant church for at least a year in high school stopped attending church regularly for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22, LifeWay Research reported.

Student leaders at several local churches decided to do something to help college-bound youths.

The “Freshman9” is a conference open to high school juniors and seniors and their parents. Its aim is to address practical and spiritual issues related to college life, planners said.

The event is Oct. 13, 8:30 a.m., at First Baptist Church, Decatur.

Trinity Baptist Church student pastor Eric Albright said the idea grew from meetings of StudentNet, a group of about 10 area youth ministers. They have organized winter DiscipleNow gatherings of 1,000 students and a summer Metamorphosis community mission project.

Albright said the ministers agreed that such a conference was a need for students and the community.

“(What to do after high school) is one of the biggest decisions in life, and so we wanted to give students and parents some practical and spiritual guidance in preparing for college,” he said.

Many students graduating from high school to young adulthood also “graduate” from their faith in a sense, Albright said. Many also are unsure about college and decisions about their futures, he said.

The “Freshman9” title is a play on “freshman 15,” a reference to many freshmen’s weight gain. The conference will have nine classes.

Attendees may pick from tracks such as “How to Survive Your First Year (College 101),” “How to Pay for College, “Picking a New Church and School Organizations,” “Defending Your Faith” and “Picking a Major.”

Among professionals leading sessions will be Edwin Hocutt, Baptist campus minister at UAH, and counselors from The Enrichment Center.

Public and private colleges and universities also will send representatives. Albright said planners have sent information to schools in Morgan County and promoted the conference through churches.

The cost is $15, which includes lunch and resource materials.

You also have a chance to win a scholarship, an iPod, a mini-fridge and more.

Sutton, the UAH student, said her faith has become stronger in college. She said she talked about her doubts with her church’s student minister, who is only four or five years older. He encouraged her to seek God, pray and research her faith on her own, she said.

Sutton said works on apologetics, Christian theology relating to defense of faith, helped her. The result was “God showing up more than ever before,” said the pre-law and psychology major.

Register now

To pre-register for “Freshman9,” call Gabe Ross, 353-5912.

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