From January 13th through the morning of January 16th of 2023, many college students and young adults, like myself, attended this years CORPS Winter Conference. Like last year, I looked at the schedule to get a preview of the weekend. Where it read, “Free time,” I wondered how many games of volleyball I could squeeze in. Where it read, “Dinner”, my stomach groaned.

But it the midst of my plans for entertainment and recreation, you could see the message titles in sharp contrast: “The Reality of Grief”, Godly Grief”, “Finding Hope in Grief”, and “Grieving for the Church”. Far from what one might expect for a college-group retreat or a young adult conference, this year’s conference had invited Southside RPC’s associate pastor Ian Wise to teach through the saddest book of the Bible, Lamentations. The theme, of course, was on Learning to Lament.


Don’t get the wrong impression though. Wise wasn’t lifelessly preaching to a bunch of college students to be sad, as if happy is the only emotion we know to experience. No, Wise shared the same hope that Paul had for the Thessalonians:

…That you may not grieve as others do who have no hope

1 Thessalonians 4:13

Worldly grief was not the matter at hand; godly grief was.
Though the world might tell us to dismiss our life’s troubles, God would have us awakened to the reality of grief around us. Though the world might call us to be morbidly stuck within ourselves, God would have us trusting upon Him in the midst of our anguishes. Though the world might have you neglecting your brothers and sisters, God intends to cultivate in us a sorrow for the church. Wise taught through the weekend that we were to grieve as those who had hope.

In between these messages, there were workshops that dealt with different facets of the Christian life. They included subjects of meditating on God’s Word, apologetics & evangelism, and church membership. There was one group activity in which we competed to build the tallest tower with stacks of paper and tape. And at the very end there was a “Stump the Pastors”, in which a panel of pastors answered our questions with a wide array of topics.

All in all, my friends and I were encouraged. As many of us return to our classes or to our workplaces, I’m prayerfully excited to see God bring forth more and more fruite as a result of the conference.

Thanks to Jonathan Park for writing this article for us. Jonathan is a recent Purdue graduate and has been a member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Lafayette since the fall of 2021. He loves to read, write, play guitar, and lose Euchre in his free time.

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