A Great Plains Conference native is one of 10 young people worldwide selected for a cohort to study ecumenism and interreligious movements. Luke Miltz, 27, said he was pleasantly surprised to hear that he was named to the United Methodist Ecumenical and Interreligious Training: Young Adult Network, or UMEIT: YAN.
“There’s no telling how many people they’re going to pick or how many are going to apply,” Miltz said. “It’s definitely exciting to be selected.”
A native of Topeka who attended Shawnee Heights and Susanna Wesley UMCs, Miltz is in his second semester at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, on track to earn a master’s of divinity degree in 2025.
UMEIT: YAN is part of several initiatives of the Council of Bishops in leading The United Methodist Church into living more fully into Christian unity and into deepening our interreligious relationships, a news release from the council explained.
Miltz is one of five Americans selected, with two participants from the Philippines, and one each from Wales, Nigeria and Angola.
Meeting over Zoom, they will create a group covenant, read four books, develop ministry action plans and cultivate community among themselves. They are also scheduled, COVID permitting, to meet once in person in a country that none of them are from, Miltz said.
The experience is just what he’s looking for, Miltz said.
“I’m really passionate about evangelism in a way that’s not colonial and fits into other cultures,” he said. “Big picture, anything I learn about ecumenism or interreligious affairs will help me make sure my evangelism practices are healthy.”
Miltz graduated from Baker University with a bachelor’s degree in international business in 2017 and an MBA in executive leadership in 2019. After working as a welcome center coordinator and admissions counselor at Baker, he served as an intern and then community engagement coordinator at Lenexa St. Paul’s UMC. He currently works for a software company in Overland Park.
He said he was encouraged by the Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford, clergy recruitment and development coordinator, and the Rev. Nicole Conard, young adult leadership and campus ministry coordinator, to apply for the cohort.
Crawford said she and Conard encouraged several young people to apply, but Miltz was the only one who filled out the nomination form.
“He has definitely demonstrated, as a college student and as a layperson, a great amount of interest in reaching across different groups,” Crawford said. “The ecumenical work is all about that, looking more deeply to what we share in common as Christians around the world and across the country.”
Miltz said he wants to go into campus ministry after seminary and a short stint as pastor of a local church, “to find out what it’s all about, since it’s our historic backbone.”
He said his dream job would be as campus pastor at Baker. The Rev. Kevin Hopkins, who has served as campus pastor at the Baldwin City-based United Methodist university since 2014, has been “an important mentor,” Miltz said.
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