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Christian Union

Conference Is Refreshing for Dartmouth Students

by catherine elvy, staff writer

A winter conference for Christian Union at Dartmouth featured a teaching that helped students better absorb the Word of God.

In January at Singing Hills Christian Camp in Plainfield, New Hampshire, Ministry Fellow Julia Carlisle introduced the multi-step, contemplative prayer activity known as Lectio Divina, or divine reading.

“It’s an ancient practice of slowing down while reading Scripture and meditating on it several times, paying attention to what the Holy Spirit calls your heart to and then praying into that,” she said.

Carlisle’s exercise focused on Romans 5 and its themes of justification by faith and peace with God.

The activity proved critical for time-crunched undergraduates. “They are so used to being busy, running from one thing to the next, that it’s hard to be still and listen to God, not just talk to Him,” said Carlisle. “This practice teaches them also how to feast on the Word and not just treat it like a fast-food stop.”

Indeed, Robert Moore ’20 described the exercise as profound.

{tweetme}“I had the opportunity to meditate and seriously take in a passage of Scripture that I had always read on a very cursory level,” said Moore, a pre-med student from Georgia. “It proved to be one of the most powerful moments of Scripture reading I’ve ever experienced.”{/tweetme}

Moore looks forward to practicing the application of Lectio Divina, especially in Bible course settings. “What is so significant is how it forces you to look at Scriptures so intensely,” he said. “This is the Word of God. This is what was given to us.”

In addition to contemplating the beauty and depth of Bible verses, the winter conference provided Dartmouth students with opportunities to bond in a tranquil environment.


Located in the woodlands of Western New Hampshire and 12 miles south of Hanover, Singing Hills offers a backdrop of fields, trails, ponds, and streams. Inside amenities include game rooms, lounges, stone fireplaces, and chapels.

“Having fellowship, along with games and worship, was such a blessing. It put things in perspective for the rest of the term,” said Melanie Prakash ’21.

This year marked the Dartmouth ministry’s fifth winter conference at Singing Hills. During the cozy respite, students welcomed meals and activities that allowed them to connect with fellow believers.

“One of the most valuable things about this retreat was the chance to experience community that is based in Christ,” said Moore.

Also during the winter conference, the undergraduates heard how God calls believers to serve as agents of divine peace and reconciliation in the midst of a broken, conflicted world.

During the weekend, Ministry Director Zachary Albanese encouraged students to be ambassadors of Christ in their respective spheres of influence.

{tweetme}“We are called to wait, be patient, and bear witness,” said Albanese. “We are called to be faithful, heavenly citizens participating in the new life of the church while we also live and exist in this world.”{/tweetme}

Parts of Albanese’s message reflected themes from Calvin College professor and philosopher James K.A. Smith’s newest book, Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology.

Such messages resonated with Prakash, who left the weekend with a deep commitment to linger in the afterglow of spiritual refreshment and instruction.

“We are peacemakers by letting Christ shine through us and by embracing the radical love that is repulsive to our sinful natures,” he said.

Ultimately, the winter conference served to inspire and revitalize students as they returned for a fresh semester. “It really did jumpstart the term,” Albanese said.