Photo: Kelsey Prestidge, senior musical theatre major, says she has packed every sweater in her closet for her trip to Northern Ireland.
A group of Hardin-Simmons University students will study ancient spiritual practices in Northern Ireland while others will take in Paul’s Aegean experience in ancient Athens, Greece, during spring break trips leaving this week.
Both trips are laced with study and coursework as well as traditional mission work.
John Hunt, director of HSU’s Baptist Student Ministries, says his group of about 20 students will leave from the campus police station about 9:30 a.m. this Thursday, March 7, 2012, for Armagh, Northern Ireland, where they will work though the Celtic Center for Spirituality.
Hunt says, “Of the 20 BSM students, 13 are enrolled in the course Ancient Spiritual Practices, taught by Dr. Kelly Pigott. Dr. Pigott is teaching this course throughout the spring and will be going on the trip with our group to help lead in the spiritual practice experiences.”
Students headed to Greece will gather for a brief prayer and send off in Logsdon Chapel between 11:30 a.m. and noon on Thursday.
Dr. Ken Lyle, professor of New Testament and Greek, and director of the Master of Divinity program at HSU’s Logsdon Seminary, will lead his students across southern parts of Europe giving primary attention to the experience of visiting Athens, Corinth, and the Attic Peninsula.
Students will stay in central Athens near the Acropolis, visiting the Parthenon, the Agora, Mars Hill, the Acropolis Museum, the ancient city of Corinth, and many other historic sites.
“The students will experience both the ancient and the modern. They will get a chance to see missions and church work in a different context,” says Lyle.
“My hope for this trip is that it will be life-changing for my students and for myself,” says Pigott about the students headed to Northern Ireland.
“The Celtic Church is one of the most ancient in Christendom, tracing back to the second century,” says Pigott. “Its roots are in the Greek-speaking Eastern Church instead of the Latin Church, giving it a unique character.
“For example, Celtic Christians developed a deep appreciation for God as Creator. And their approach to theology incorporated both wisdom and beauty, perhaps best exemplified in the Book of Kells.
“HSU students have spent the semester learning about this tradition and its approach to prayer and worship. With this trip to Ireland, they will have an opportunity to experience first-hand what they have been learning. It’s one of many opportunities offered to HSU students throughout the year to help form and strengthen their faith.”
“Students on the BSM trip will also serve in a traditional missions capacity in that they will be helping Habitat for Humanity of Northern Ireland, visiting a youth outreach organization as well as helping in a couple of peace and reconciliation centers,” says Hunt.
“Celtic spirituality puts a major emphasis on the necessity of moving back-and-forth from religious experience to service,” says Hunt. “We are hoping to create a trip environment which allows our students to experience the same.”
Students participating in the Logsdon class and mission trip will devote a significant part of their time serving with mission groups in Athens; including PORTA, a mission to Albanian immigrants; Nea Zoie, a ministry to women in Athens; and students will be helping members of the 2nd Evangelical Church of Athens in various ministries.
Lyle says, “The students will be able to imagine what it might have been like for Paul to enter into an unfamiliar city with the goal of sharing the Gospel. They will meet and work with 21st century versions of Paul who have planted themselves in the modern city of Athens to share the good news with Albanians and Greeks.”
Both groups leave March 7, 2013 and return March 18.