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Christian Union New York Hosts Conference for Professionals    

by catherine elvy, staff writer

Christian Union New York encouraged professionals and graduate students to serve as catalysts for cultural shifts and share Christ’s reconciling Gospel with lost peers when it hosted the Cities Conference in Manhattan this summer.

On June 22-23, approximately 100 attendees, including many young adults, gathered at The Union League Club and Nyack College for the two-day event, which featured acclaimed speakers, seminars, dynamic worship, and networking opportunities. The theme was “Turn the World Upside Down,” based on Acts 17:6.

“I was just amazed with how the Lord brought everything together,” said Scott Crosby, director of Christian Union New York.

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In fall 2012, Christian Union New York began ministering to alumni and professionals. In July, the ministry expanded into Washington, D.C. with a welcome party for recent graduates who relocated to the nation’s capital.

From his base in Manhattan, Crosby oversees Bible courses, mentoring and networking opportunities, forums, and other thought-provoking events for both pivotal cities.

At the Cities Conference, plenary speakers included prolific author and commentator Os Guinness and theologian Bishop Claude Alexander. Click to Tweet

Among his vast credentials, Guinness has served as a senior fellow with the EastWest Institute and is co-founder of the Trinity Forum. Guinness delivered an intriguing session, entitled The Magna Carta of Humanity: Human Nature Post-Auschwitz, Post-Hiroshima, and Pre-Singularity. The title, based on his latest research, referenced the evil represented by the Holocaust, the destructive intent behind the nuclear age and Cold War, and the trends accelerating the enhancement and transformation of humans through technology and artificial intelligence.

“Guinness argued that it begs the questions of ‘What is a human being?’ and ‘What is the future of humanity?’ in light of our being made in the image and likeness of God,” said Crosby.

Kate Gardner (Princeton ’16), a Christian Union ministry intern, found Guinness’ reflections to be both challenging and inspirational. “He spoke very eloquently and insightfully on what it means to be human and precious in the image of God,” said Gardner.

Alexander, senior pastor of The Park Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, discussed the role of evangelism in advancing God’s kingdom. Namely, he highlighted ways both young and seasoned professionals can reflect Christ’s redemptive message to their peers, a nod to the conference’s theme.

In particular, Alexander reflected upon the dynamic and far-reaching mission of the Messiah’s earliest followers. With empowerment from the Holy Spirit, first-century believers sparked a worldwide revolution. Click to Tweet

“By the providence of God, we have been given this substantial opportunity,” said Alexander.

Young professionals are called to be faithful in work assignments that reflect individual gifts, talents, passions, and opportunities, while reaching out to co-workers with godly love.

“Live and listen in such a way that redemptive conversations can occur,” Alexander said.

Among his extensive credentials, Alexander serves on the boards of Wycliffe Bible Translators, Christianity Today and the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops. He is the vice chairman of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s board of trustees.

Ultimately, the Lord blesses His followers with opportunities to serve as connections of influence for Gospel advancement, Alexander said.

“You may be the only point of light that those individuals may know,” he said. “God has assigned you to be there.”

The Christian Union Cities conference also showcased a variety of breakout sessions and panel discussions. Click to Tweet Attendees benefited from sessions that allowed participants from a range of industries, including finance, to discuss ways to apply Christian principles to their fields.

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April Tam Smith shared her missional efforts to reflect her faith across New York City via her talents and entrepreneurship. Among her endeavors, the Columbia Business School alumna of 2009 and Morgan Stanley director operates a Manhattan restaurant that donates its profits to charities, including The Bowery Mission.

One panel discussion, which focused on research into breakthrough movements for cultural change, featured R.J. Snell, a philosopher and director of the Witherspoon Institute’s Center on the University and Intellectual Life, and Aaron Renn, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

In addition, scholar and author Peter Heslam of the University of Cambridge and theologian Kenneth Barnes of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary tackled some of the themes behind Barnes’ book, Redeeming Capitalism.

The Cities Conference featured a seminar with George Otis, Jr., one the foremost experts on revival.  Otis is the founder and president of The Sentinel Group, a Christian research, media, and training agency best known for producing the award-winning Transformations documentary series.

Otis explored the histories of spiritual awakenings, including ones at leading colleges in the Northeast. He highlighted the first two Great Awakenings in the United States and the ensuing socio-economical impact that followed.

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“Change must be evident—not only in the inhabitants—but in the fabric of [culture’s] institutions,” he said.

Ultimately, revival is not something that is apprehended intellectually.

“Revival is about presence,” Otis said. “It’s something that is felt. It’s not about doctrine or dogma. You feel it. Our role is not just to change minds, but to blow minds—revival does that.”

With exhortations from Otis and other distinguished speakers, the Cities Conference accentuated Christian Union’s mission to equip professionals to pursue spiritual and vocational callings, especially as they grow in influence.

“I was freshly reminded and equipped to believe that God can enable us to ‘turn the world upside down’ for His glory as we build community and serve Him wholeheartedly right where we are,” said Gardner.