When junior Julia Bradley took to the stage during Samford’s Q Union event Oct. 25, she was embodying the theme of her speech – “Women, Ministry and Moxie.” The religion and sociology major charged her peers in the packed Reid Chapel with encouraging more young women to seek leadership roles within the church.
“Women bring a new and fresh perspective to the pulpit. Women walk through and experience the world differently from men and by having them to teach and preach from the word, we’re granted a new tool and a new light which brings us closer to understanding God,” she said.
Bradley was one of three Samford students to present ideas at Q Union, an event that combines nationally broadcasted speakers with live student presentations to engage Christian students in having meaningful conversations about cultural issues. Each student speaker shared perspectives and experiences on difficult topics challenging today’s society.
Q Union, founded by Christian author Gabe Lyons, was launched as a shared learning experience for speakers and attendees to ask difficult questions and discuss sensitive current events in a safe space. This is Samford’s second year to host alongside 21 other college campuses including Cornell University, the College of William and Mary and Virginia Tech.
For student speaker Lucy Kate Green, this was an opportunity to share her perspective on the importance of prison reform after working in a high-security prison in Maine. The senior’s talk, titled “Keys to Freedom,” highlighted how working in a prison challenged her perception of freedom.
"These were some of the most surrendered people I’ve ever encountered and they showed me freedom because of that. To juxtapose their free perspectives with mine that has so much comfort and yet mine is ungrateful and often anxious. God sent me to prison to show me how not free I was," Green said.
Between live talks, students watched broadcasted speakers, Bob Goff, Jo Saxton and Scott Harrison, and engaged in real-time small group discussions about what they were hearing.
“It’s really about learning from others,” said junior Joyeuse Senga. “We live in a world that is big and small at the same time so we are more interconnected than we think. I think people can forget that sometimes. These discussions allow us to come together to discuss difficult issues and open up to one another in a really positive way.”
Senior Peyton Welch’s speech, titled “A Dangerous Quiet,” highlighted racism and social injustice, an issue that became magnified while he was serving as a Young Life leader at Woodlawn High School. He closed his speech by sharing an acronym that served as call-to-action that also exemplified the takeaway for the entire evening, REAL, which stands for “read, enter, ask and listen.”
“What can you do when you leave tonight? Well, you can be REAL,” Welch said. “You can read diverse books, you can enter into unfamiliar spaces, you can ask really good questions and you can listen really, really well."
By serving as student speakers Bradley, Green and Welch also earned additional opportunities to engage with the Q organization in leadership development including networking, training sessions and attendance at the national three-day Q conference.
“The three student speakers for Samford’s second annual Q Union attended the national Q conference with our office this past spring in Nashville,” Laura Breedlove, director of Student Leadership and Involvement, said. “That opportunity, coupled with six weeks of training from Q staff, set the stage for an incredibly thoughtful and thought-provoking event.”