What is the purpose of Manna Connect?
Manna undergraduates are eager to receive professional and life guidance from alumni who understand their particular interests and concerns. Manna has matured enough as an organization that many alumni now have the vocational and life experience to give back meaningfully to current undergraduates as well as younger alumni. Promoting such encounters will both encourage alumni and strengthen the undergraduate ministry.
Is this a new version of the alumni retreat?
Yes and no. Yes, in that Manna Connect will replace the retreat as the central annual gathering for alumni. No, in that the purpose of Manna Connect is not just to provide a reunion for alumni, which is what the retreat had started to become, but to promote meaningful interactions between alumni and undergraduates. You will still be able to see all your old college friends, but that is not the primary goal of this event.
Why should I come?
Discerning vocational direction after college is a difficult challenge, and many of us would have benefited from the counsel of those who came before us. As an alumnus/alumna, you have the opportunity to contribute powerfully to a current student’s personal and professional development. You also have the chance to glean from the unique perspectives of other alumni. No group is better suited to serve our current students and alumni community than other alumni who have gone through similar experiences.
Shouldn’t alumni focus primarily on their local church?
Certainly. Manna Connect is not meant to detract from alumni participation in their local communities, and it would be a failure if the only result were heightened alumni dependence on Manna. That said, this kind of annual event can provide a jolt of energy and encouragement for alumni as they return to their local church settings, and it can especially function as a source of stability for alumni in the years immediately after college when many struggle to establish roots in any one location.
What if I am not sure about my own career or life?
Manna Connect will minister to alumni as well as undergraduates. Coming back to Manna creates space for alumni to reflect upon their own situations and to advise themselves as they advise others. Catching up with old friends and interacting with new alumni from different classes and fields also provides encouragement and fresh perspective. You don’t need to know all the answers to your own questions. God is present and at work in ways we don’t always understand, and forums like these are one way he speaks to us. And, if nothing else, those of us who do not feel entirely certain or content with our own decisions can forewarn undergraduates of the challenges or pitfalls of various paths we have taken.
I feel too old to come back to Manna.
The draw to Manna Connect is not just nostalgia or sentimentality — though we suspect, deep down, you still sort of miss Manna. :) It is an opportunity to give back to a ministry that would benefit from the wisdom and perspective of those who are a few years ahead. Manna needs its alumni to give back to the undergraduates, and not just for financial support. Please consider sharing your own story with a student who can learn from your experiences.
P.S. You probably won’t be the oldest one anyway, and you’ll end up enjoying it once you’re actually here — we promise!