Built on the belief that Christians are called to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God and neighbor, Trevecca’s second Six8 Fellowship opened on July 7. This year’s intensive continues the Fellowship’s focus on spiritual growth—this time through the perspective of environmental justice.
“The great power of teenagers in the church as a whole is their passion,” said Jasmine Hiland, Six8 program coordinator. “We believe that if change is going to happen on a bigger scale, it’s going to start with our youth.”
Six8 Fellowship is a seven-day summer intensive designed to empower 10-12th graders to initiate changes within their communities. As students navigate career options, the Trevecca team has partnered with various organizations to provide creative examples of professionals tackling social and environmental issues in various fields.
With funding from the Lily Endowment Inc., Hiland and Brandon Winstead, director of Six8 Fellowship, debuted the program last year. Together with six mentors, the team previously addressed a broad perspective on racism, forgotten neighborhoods, the elderly and the disabled in the effort to help the 25 participants gain awareness of the individuals living among them.
This year, about 35 students broke into small groups led by one of 12 mentors to create an environment where students can openly discuss “how loving our neighbors and caring for the earth are one in the same.”
“What really sets us apart is that yearlong mentorship,” Hiland said. “Often students go to these camps or conferences, and they learn all of this stuff… but it’s really hard to take home.”
Students also worked with Jason Adkins, Trevecca environmental projects coordinator, and the Trevecca Urban Farm, where they learned how to compost, start a garden and recycle.
Hiland said organizers want to explore environmental justice “from as many angles” as they can, collaborating with representatives from the communities that surround Trevecca such as EarthTone, Woodycrest Community Garden, Napier Community Center, Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE) and a zero-waste coffee shop called CREMA.
“When the biblical prophets come to address injustice, they go to very specific places. They don’t deal with platitudes and generalities,” Winstead said. “Carrying on with Trevecca’s history of being involved in service-learning, we need to do that in a very specific place in our local neighborhood.”
Winstead wants participants to implement their learnings into practice within their own communities and respond to injustices according to God’s call.
“What I hope it progresses to is that it’s sustainable for at least a decade… and that we eventually become a partner institute to think critically about youth ministry and vocational discernment in an urban academic setting,” Winstead said.
Paige Burge, a 2017 fellow, says while she’s grateful for the relationships she established, she’s most thankful that Six8 has challenged her opinions.
“It’s just a constant opportunity to be shaped in ways that we can’t be formed or shaped anywhere else,” Burge said. “You can get there thinking one thing and leave thinking completely different things, not because you’ve been forced but because you’ve been shown something.”
Learn more about the Six8 Fellowship at six8fellowship.com.