CHICAGO, IL (September 5, 2018) – It was at the Urbana Student Missions Conference in 1984 where Úna Lucey-Lee made a commitment to serve a life of mission. That decision has led her back to the conference where she is now the program director of the event, which attracts as many as 15,000 college students every three years.
This year’s conference will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, December 27-31, 2018. Lucey-Lee, an ordained Covenant minister, began serving as program director for the 2015 gathering.
The vision of the conference is to see God compel this generation to give their whole lives for God’s global mission. When Lucey-Lee experienced that call, she thought it would mean working in health care in an urban setting. Instead, she wound up working more than 20 years in various roles for InterVarsity, the campus ministry that sponsors Urbana.
She is excited to lead the conference that was so critical in her journey. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve as Urbana’s program director,” she says. “I feel like God has invited me to it. I really believe in what we are doing.”
That belief is re-affirmed when she meets former attendees serving throughout the world who tell her that they also experienced their call to missions at an Urbana conference.
The conference includes more than 200 seminars as well as other events. Several Covenanters, including North Park University and Theological Seminary faculty, are among the speakers and seminar leaders.
Choosing speakers and presenters is one of the job’s highlights for Lucey-Lee. “It can be overwhelming because there are so many people doing great things in the world,” she says, adding, “I like seeing the program come together. I love the process.”
The process also can be a challenge because the religious backgrounds of the conference’s attendees are so varied.
“There are going to be some speakers that people are going to really like because the speaker fits their views, or they won’t like a speaker because they don’t believe the same thing,” Lucey-Lee says. “Some churches are going to love all the seminars on evangelism and wonder why we have seminars on social justice. It will be the opposite for other communities.”
But those differences add to the conference’s vibrancy. “Our hope is that people will hear a global perspective and that they’ll have an appreciation for the influence of God’s church and work in the world,” Lucey-Lee says.