By Woody Woodrick
Hilary Glover returned to Mississippi from Zimbabwe in the spring of 2007 and knew her life had changed.
“I left my heart there,” said Glover, who went on the trip with Bishop Hope Morgan Ward and other youth from the Mississippi Conference. “I decided that if I can become a doctor, I can help people physically and spiritually.”
Soon she will take what she believes is a strong step in that direction. Glover has been chosen to attend this year’s Duke Youth Academy for Christian Formation held July 8-28 at Duke Divinity School in Durham, N.C.
“I had surrendered into full-time missions and wanted to get a head start,” said the 16-year-old student at Wheeler High School who hopes to attend Duke Medical School.
The Duke Youth Academy is a two-week summer program for selected high school students to live in an intentional Christian community on the Duke campus. Duke Youth Academy, part of leadership education at Duke Divinity, is an intensive encounter with Christian life. Days are patterned by worship through word and sacrament, reflection on scripture, study, service, play; practices ancient and modern that nourish the life of faith. Students study theology with Duke Divinity School faculty.
“The Duke Youth Academy is a rich opportunity of community and learning,” said Ward. “We are thrilled that Hilary will be a part of this grand experience and pray for her as she embarks on this spiritual journey. Opportunities such as this are doors opening for youth and young adults to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ and as apostles of good news to all.”
Glover was encouraged to apply for the academy by her pastor at Wheeler United Methodist Church, the Rev. Jim Hall. “I go to course of study every summer up there,” Hall said. “We came across these kids lying in the hallway at Duke Divinity School. We discovered that this was something called the Duke Youth Academy."
Hall said Glover seemed a good candidate for the academy.
“She’s very dedicated to the Lord,” he said. “She attends church and is a leader in the youth group. She was elected convener of the Prentiss County (UM) Youth Council. When you ask her, she’s always willing to go and do for the Lord. She has accompanied adults on a couple of mission trips to Claremont Harbor UMC on the coast.
“She has stretched out and spoken in a number of churches, witnessing about her trip to Zimbabwe. She has a clown ministry and is using that to stretch herself. She’s willing to try and is not ashamed of God in any respect.”
All participants in the academy are in high school, and only about 50 are invited to take part. Tuition is paid by a grant from the Lily Endowment. Scholarships are available for room and board. Hall and Glover said church members have held fund raising events to help defray some of Glover’s expenses.
Part of the application process is writing two essays, Glover said. One had to be about how her faith has grown through life experiences and the other about the book or movie that has helped in her faith journey. Glover wrote about the movie Facing the Giants.
“That movie showed me how I should lead my team and how to react in games,” said Glover, the daughter of Bill and Tish Glover.
Glover said she hopes the academy will help her gain confidence speaking to groups. “I have some trouble speaking in front of groups,” she said. “I’m confident I will come back knowing what to say in sermon form.”
While church members have been supportive of Glover’s opportunity, Hall said he’s not sure everyone really understands what it means. “I don’t know that they realized the reach that this will bring them. She will be exposed to so many different and varied opening doors,” he said. “She will be able to come back and open doors here. She will be able to broaden their horizons.”