New beginnings for Urbana

By May 9, 2016

International (ICF/MNN) — Did you know the first Urbana conference was actually held in Toronto, Canada?  The year was 1946.  It drew 575 students from 151 schools.

Today, Urbana is hosted in St. Louis, MO, and is one of the largest student missions conferences in the world, where nearly 300,000 participants are challenged with their responsibility and privilege in global missions.

(Photo courtesy Urbana)

(Photo courtesy Urbana)

What is Urbana?  Urbana is InterVarsity’s Student Missions Conference, co-hosted by InterVarsity/USA, InterVarsity Canada, and Groupes Bibliques Universitaires et Collégiaux du Canada.

Unique in its own right, Urbana knits together a diverse mix of college and graduate students, faculty, recent graduates, pastors, church and ministry leaders, missions organizations and schools into a shared vision.

Jason Gaboury, InterVarsity’s New York/New Jersey Regional Director explained it this way:

“Urbana is not a cool conference for students to attend; it is a holy moment where the desire of the nations crashes upon the consciousness of students.”

(Photo courtesy InterVarsity/Urbana: Tom Lin (c), Ruth Hubbard (r))

(Photo courtesy InterVarsity/Urbana: Tom Lin (c), Ruth Hubbard (r))

A conference with this kind of impact needs leaders with vision, creativity, energy, passion and a love for the Next Gen.

To that end, there is a new director for Urbana ’18.  Ruth Hubbard, formerly with the executive team at Wycliffe Bible Translators, shared her thoughts on her upcoming role in making her transition announcement on Facebook.  She writes:

“God has used Urbana (IVCF’s triennial student missions conference) to form and clarify my identity, to inspire my obedience, to broaden my definition of missions, and to move me to life-affirming, life-altering worship. As a high school teacher in 1987, as the director of children’s ministry in 2000, and as an executive leader with Wycliffe Bible translators in 2009, 2012, and 2015, God kept bringing me to Urbana, meeting me there in ways that continue to transform me. You can imagine how I feel about being a part of this movement of God in a new way!”

Tom Lin is the Vice President of Missions at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA and the outgoing director of Urbana.  He shared his thoughts via social media, too.  Part of his statement reads:

I am grateful for Ruth’s faithfulness in following God’s call to InterVarsity. Ruth brings creativity, cross-cultural missions experience, and a deep love for students. She has served my friends at Wycliffe Bible Translators for 14 years, most recently as Senior Vice President and Chief Culture Officer. I am excited to see how God will use her in mobilizing this student generation to give their whole lives to God’s global mission!

It has been a joy for me to direct the past two Urbanas (2012, 2015). As Ruth becomes the full-time Urbana Director, I will continue to serve as the Vice President of Missions, overseeing our IFES partnerships and all of InterVarsity’s mission programs, including Urbana.

Please join me in congratulating Ruth and praying for her transition to InterVarsity and to Madison (from Orlando)! ‪#‎Urbana18

The 25th Urbana will take place December 27-31, 2018, in St. Louis, Missouri.  A conference this big takes time to plan the details.  Only 960+ days to go.

Join us in both congratulating Ruth and praying for God’s guidance as she steps into this role of service.


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