As the Wesley Foundation at OSU undergoes significant expansion in both size and scope, we are simultaneously dreaming big and strategizing how our mission to Make Disciples, Create Leaders, Transform Lives comes to life. These dreams build upon our ministry of the past and present in the areas of Hospitality, Worship, Healing & Wholeness, Leadership Development & Shared Community.
The I AM: Women’s Vocational Discernment Program beginning in October 2017 is one of these dreams which embodies our five pillars. This new initiative was made possible through a $100,000 three-year grant from the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, Inc. You can visit the newly launched I AM website here.
I AM was inspired by our monthly student-led women’s worship service Exposed, which offers OSU students the opportunity to hear the personal stories of women from diverse vocational, denominational, geographical, and cultural backgrounds. Speakers are asked to share their less-told stories through the lens of Dr. Brené Brown‘s research on shame, guilt, vulnerability and courage.
Exposed creates space for young women to begin sharing their own life stories more deeply. What we hear are stories of theological questions about God’s views of women, struggles in priority management and on-campus leadership, internal conflict about sexual experiences and dating relationships, conflict with authority figures and families, and anxieties about future employment and marriage. These stories demand our attention and, more importantly, a prayerful response.
For the last two years, I AM Program Founder Janina Graves was dreaming and developing, with the support of Executive Director Rev. Michael Bartley, what a vocational discernment program for young women could look like. Vocation is often defined in Christian circles by the words of Frederick Buechner, “the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”
Through research within the Forum for Theological Exploration and additional reading of vocational and leadership literature, as well as in-depth conversations with some of Oklahoma’s top female leaders, Janina discovered a vision which took young women’s lives more seriously: one which creates a sustainable, nurturing community of faith.
“God’s vision for this program became obvious. An opportunity to invite young women to participate in a process reflecting my own vocational discernment. The guiding question became, “what’s worked in my own life?” I discovered that was easy to name… provocative experiences & education, safe conversations with wise women, and contemplative spiritual practices.”
The I AM: Women’s Vocational Discernment Program includes three key components: an annual conference, monthly small groups led by local women, and an annual spiritual retreat. One hundred young women at Oklahoma State University and Northern Oklahoma College will be accepted each year through an application and interviewing process which opens this March 2017.
Interested to learn more? Contact us at email@example.com / 580-305-2289.
We give God thanks for an extensive community of faith, representing a variety of backgrounds, who have committed to leadership in this program through their Prayers, Presence, Gifts, Service and Witness.
Advisory Council: Dr. Anne Walker (OKC), Rev. Michael Bartley, Rev. Alexis Carter (Tulsa), Dr. Kim Boyd (Tulsa), Janina Graves (Founder).
Leadership Council: Sharon Bennett (Administrator), Rev. Leah Hravochec*, Jan Jewell*, Janetta Cravens (Oklahoma City), Sara Siems*, Meg Donica (Ardmore), Imaree McInnis, Hope Hall, Rev. Ruth Atterberry*, Shelby Holcomb.
Small Group Leaders*: Julie Lambert, Rev. Sally Houck, Hannah Drewes DiPasquale, Rev. Susan Ross, Tammy Davis, and Maria Elena Ferreira.
We will soon be launching the We Are network, an opportunity for community members to give to this incredible endeavor!