Category Archives: Sports

The Success of a Local Dirtbag

Luke Mehall, self-proclaimed dirtbag climber, talked about his newest book release.

Kennedy Sievers/Senior Staff Writer

Luke Mehall: Mehall’s new book cover. Photo Courtesy of Luke Mehall
Luke Mehall: Mehall’s new book cover. Photo Courtesy of Luke Mehall

The environment was buzzing with excitement, anticipating the promise of adventure. A wonderful display of books, shirts, chocolate treats, coffee, and tea covered display tables. Luke Mehall, former student at Western, wrote his fourth book entitled Graduating From College, Me A Dirtbag Climber Grows Up. He decided to come to Western and give his only book talk to the students, faculty, and community members of Gunnison.

Mehall got his start with writing for this newspaper as well as the Gunnison County Times in 2001. He also did various other writing enterprises during his time at Western, including working in the marketing department. Mehall was a recreation major while in school, and graduated in 2004. He has been writing for about fifteen years.

Graduating From College Me, A Dirtbag Climber Grows Up is Mehall’s fourth book. It was part of a goal he made to write five books before he turned forty. He draws his inspiration from many places including the Grateful Dead, and beatnik greats such as Alan Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, Timothy Leary, and Kurt Vonnegut.

He started his climbing career in a gym in his hometown, which was an abandoned grain silo and the world’s largest climbing gym for a long time. Eventually, Mehall graduated to climbing outdoors. His favorite place to climb is in the Colorado desert, namely Indian Creek. Mehall loves the view, he said, “It’s like climbing in a painting.”

After graduating college, Mehall spent a lot of time in Indian Creek, living out of a tent and seeking to climb the best climbs and live the outdoor recreation major life’s dream. He read some stories from his new novel about Indian Creek, including one about a memorial toilet in honor of a fallen fellow climber and going there now as an experienced climber, relating and giving hard-earned wisdom to the new generation of climbers.

Mehall did not get where he is through no effort of his own. He says that climbing, while the love of his life, actively tries to kill you. He has had many close encounters of his own, and watched fellow climbers meet the fate that the rocks try to instill. Rather than these dangers discouraging him from his hobby, however, Mehall says it only adds fuel to the fire of his love for exploring the great outdoors.

After listening to the reading and hearing Mehall discuss his novel, he opened up the conversation for questions and people delivered. People asked about his zine; which is a small climbing magazine designed for people writing articles about climbing, taking photos whilst climbing, and doing art.

People also asked about the publishing process, to which he said he attempted to publish with traditional big house publishers in the beginning, but found it easier and in some ways more profitable to self-publish, or as he likes to call it, independently publish. He is able to print small books as well as self-promote on social media.

Mehall wants liberal arts students to feel like they can accomplish anything. He claims that a lot of the stories as well as poems in his novel are somewhat embarrassing, but he felt like he needed to put them out there for the college and climbing community.

Don’t be Trashy: Western’s Movement Towards Sustainability

Western’s reducing its way to Zero Waste

Kennedy Sievers/Senior Staff Writer

Poster
Poster

Western is a progressive school in many ways, and a true demonstration of this is our Zero Waste Movement through the Masters in Environmental Management (MEM) students, sustainability coordinators, and facilities. The Zero Waste movement is redistributes 90% of the waste created by Western’s campus.

According to Nathan King, Sustainability Director, “Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. In a more practical sense, this means diverting as much of our waste away from the landfill as we can through strategies such as reduce, reuse, and recycle. Some universities define it as 90% waste diversion, but this is not always achievable for every university given their location and resources at hand.”

While Zero Waste is a new for Western, it is a progressive concept that has been around for a while. Innovative people who care about the environment have been playing with the concept for quite a while. King says, “It was born from the mindfulness of taking a linear waste stream and making it cyclical instead. Thus, nothing (or very little) is being wasted in the cyclical system. This mimics natural systems in the environment like nutrient cycles or rain cycles. It is the way the earth was intended to operate so that it can sustain itself.”

There are quite a few goals that Western hopes to accomplish through the Zero Waste movement. About their goals, King said, “Our short term goals involve getting to 50-70% waste diversion in the next year or two. Longer-term goals involve creating a Zero Waste athletic event toolkit and having Zero Waste integrated into all parts of university operations. Eventually, we would like to reach that 90% diversion rate that I mentioned earlier.”

This is something that will benefit the environment, as well as Western. Through successfully reaching a Zero Waste status, we will be reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, reducing the amount of money spent on Waste Management services, and helping the environment overall. King said, “Based on research by Western students Sam Kozel, Cassidy Tawse-Garcia, Alyssa Vogan, Stephanie Aubert, and Zach Vaughter, we generate 633,645 pounds of waste per academic calendar year (32 weeks). If you include the summer conference season this number is even larger. We currently divert 24% of this waste from the landfill through recycling, composting, or reusing which means 480,577 pounds still end up in the landfill.”

In order to picture this better, he continued with, “Imagine filling 2 football fields one-foot deep in trash and that would be the equivalent of what Western sends to the landfill! This is a lot of waste and we pay for it by giving Waste Management Inc. about $46,000 or more a year to haul away our trash. Our research shows that we could increase our diversion rate to 71% just through recycling alone.”

Western and the community as a whole would benefit in many ways. According to King, “This would have multiple benefits for Western and our community at large! These benefits include reducing our impact on the Gunnison landfill, reducing our Waste Management Inc contract costs, increasing the recovery of usable materials for future generations, and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Zero Waste movement is growing quickly through the help of students that are continuing to get more involved. They are trying many methods to educate students, which can help to get undergrads involved and more educated about Zero Waste. According to Cara Leapley, sustainability coordinator, “We are doing a few thing to educate undergrads. We have a composting station in the cafeteria, which someone sits at to make sure students know what they can and cannot compost. This year we have started to do a few Zero Waste events.”

The group also held two different Zero Waste barbeques where they had several different buckets for different types of waste and educated people on how to properly dispose of the waste. They believe that these events have been instrumental in helping students become more aware of the movement and how to contribute. “We had one at the freshman orientation BBQ and at the Welcome back BBQ so far. At these we have stations for people to throw their food away, but rather then just having on bin where everything goes, we have 4. One for recyclables, one for compost, one for the pig farm, and one that goes to the landfill. We have people at each station to direct people on how to dispose of their waste,” Leapley said.

The Zero Waste movement is also trying to get involved in freshman lives. They appealed to them during freshman orientation week, and Leapley and Taylor Paulson, another sustainability coordinator, helped to organize an orientation event informing incoming students about how to properly recycle and compost. “This year was the first year we tried to incorporate sustainability during freshman orientation. Taylor Paulson and I worked on this together. We made a flier about sustainability at Western to put in all of the freshman folders. We also talked about some of the sustainability projects when students were going on their tours of campus,” Leapley claimed.

The orientation went well and seemed to help bring Zero Waste into the conversation for new and old students alike. “I think that orientation is such a great way to kick start sustainability at Western,” said Leapley. “We really want students to be thinking about it from the moment they start at Western. Hopefully in future years we will be able to expand on sustainability at western even more.”

Student involvement is the most successful way to accomplish the goals set by this group for Zero Waste. The sustainability coordinators handed out compost buckets and still have them available if you’re interested, even if you live off of campus. There are plenty of ways that students can get involved if they are interested. “Students will probably play the most crucial role in helping Western go ‘Zero Waste.’ One way of doing this is to cultivate a zero waste mindset in your day to day life so that you minimize your trash,” according to King.  

There are many ways to reconsider what is actually trash and what can be saved and reused. It can be really easy if you just keep these few steps in mind: “You can do this by remembering the 5 steps to zero waste (refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, recover). It is best to not create any waste in the first place (refuse). If you do have to create some waste, try to make as little as possible (reduce). Then try to find other uses for the waste you want to get rid of (reuse). If you can’t reuse it, then try to recycle or compost it in order to save the value of the resource (recycle). Lastly, use the leftover waste to create new forms of energy,” said King.

There will also be opportunities to get involved as a volunteer for Zero Waste events around campus. Please email Nathan King (nking@western.edu) if you are interested in getting more involved! 

Accessible and Affordable: Options for Students

Gunnison Public Health offers income-based care for family planning

Bethany Eveleth / Staff Writer

 Map Courtesy of iMaps
Map Courtesy of iMaps

College, although challenging and stressful at times, is full of wonderful opportunities to make memories, often in settings other than the classroom. When the fun gets out of control, or new needs arise, sometimes it can be hard to seek care. Medical care is expensive, and confidentiality can be hard to come by in a town as small as Gunnison. Students do have options, though.

Located less than two miles from the campus on Pine Street, Gunnison Public Health Family Planning offers low to no cost services for community members to take advantage of. They offer everything from birth control options, to well woman exams (Pap smears), and sexually transmitted disease (STD) screening. They can also provide care for urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and vaccinate for human papilloma virus (HPV), as well as provide low or no-cost emergency contraceptives.

“We base everything on income, so depending on where your income falls on the Federal poverty level, we have free or low cost services,” said Family Planning Coordinator and registered nurse, Emily Fitzgerald. “Most college students qualify for free services, and should they have to pay, most visits will cost less than 35 dollars, depending on what they need.”

Family Planning bills a variety of insurances, so that is an option, and when insurance can be billed, patients often will not have to pay a co-pay. If, for whatever, reason, a patient wishes not to have their insurance billed, they are still eligible to have their income evaluated for the sliding pay-scale.

“We will never tell somebody no, the most important thing is someone getting what they need,” Fitzgerald said. “Price shouldn’t stand in an individual’s way.”

Everything is 100 percent confidential, and patients can usually get in quickly. So there is no need to worry about anything being publicized to the school or community. The office is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, as well as two Mondays a month. Payments can be made with cash, check, or credit card. Depending on the type of exam or service, results are generally pretty fast.

“If you’re coming in and want to get on birth control, we’ll chat about different methods, and I’ll do a brief physical exam, and then often you can start that same day,” Fitzgerald said. “For STD testing, we’ll screen to decide which tests to run, and usually there is a seven day turn around for results.”

Fitzgerald is even willing to sit down and talk to individuals who have questions or want more education without being checked. Family Planning used to run some events for Western, such as STD clinics, but have recently been limited to onsite testing only. Currently, they are working on many internal projects, which limits outreach opportunities.

“I would be open to education programs in something like a dorm setting,” Fitzgerald said. “Especially if there is a particular interest about anything. I wouldn’t want to come present on the same things that everyone has heard about all through school, though.”

Students and community members are encouraged to get what they need, and practice self care. For more information, or to set up an appointment call 970-641-0209.

Dude, Where’s my Bike?

Bike Thefts in Gunnison

Emma Hustis at one of the many bike racks on Western's campus. Photo by Mandie Little
Emma Hustis at one of the many bike racks on Western’s campus. Photo by Mandie Little

Mandie Little/Staff Writer

There seems to have been a recent increase in the amount of bike thefts in Gunnison and on campus. People are reporting stolen bikes on social media with the use of the Gunnison Marketplace (on Facebook), as well as the anonymous chat spot known as Yik Yak.

Although it would appear that this type of crime is on the rise, it has been a common occurrence in the valley for quite some time. In fact, from 2002 and 2012, reports of theft averaged close to 300 each year (this includes all theft, not just bikes), but in 2013 and 2014 there was a sharp decline in these numbers with the average being only 145 reported thefts. Although theft is actually on the decline, it is still a serious issue for student, and residents of the valley whose property has been unlawfully taken.

For those who have not been a victim of bike theft, it is easier to invalidate the victim because it happens so often that there is almost a sentiment of “you should have known better.”  Often times the theft of a bicycle is referred to as “borrowing,” because it is such a common occurrence.  Many of the post that appear on social media concerning stolen bikes are surprisingly calm. “Someone ‘borrowed’ our shop bike about a week ago and it hasn’t reappeared. Please return it … You can leave it at the bike rack in front of the shop. Thank you!!!”

Many of the locals in Crested Butte and Gunnison have grown used to bikes being taken and later turning up in a random yard or other location. Not everyone is so passive about the thefts though, and some have even called for sting operations using “bait bikes.” One resident went as far as saying, “Bait bikes with poison ivy all over them, or something really painful.”

Whenever a bike is taken and the owner posts on social media, blame is quickly pointed back to the owner with comments like, “Well, if you had locked your bike it wouldn’t have been stolen.” Then comes the inevitable response that the bike had been locked, and the lock was cut. Suddenly the audience of this post is on the side of the victim, who they previously viewed as being careless and deserving of having their bike taken. So what is one to do if they have taken the proper precautions of locking up, but they are still fearful being victimized? Bike owners in the valley and on Western’s campus are often unaware of an additional step that they should be taking. Registering their bike with the Gunnison Police Department is free and although it cannot prevent the bike from being taken in the first place, it can help by getting that bike back to its owner, when found.

This information can be found at their website, cityofgunnison-co.gov/police/. You can come to the police department with your bicycle and obtain a registration free of charge. Calling ahead to see if someone is available may reduce your wait time.

Here are a few tips to prevent a bike from being taken: whenever possible, bring your bike inside with you. This may not be an option during classes, but it is at the dorms or at an apartment. Reducing the amount of time your bike is outside and exposed will reduce the risk of it being taken. If you don’t have a lock, get a lock. Don’t buy just any lock though. Your bike is an investment and the lock that protects it should be as well. There are many locks on the market that cannot be cut. These do cost a little more money, but replacing a bike costs even more.

Ultimately, the safety of a bike lays in the hands of its owner. Taking proper precautions can save the time, money, and the unwanted hassle that comes when a bike is stolen.

Vinotok 2016

Burn the Grump!

Grace Flynn/ Staff Writer

Audience members gathering to enjoy the ceremony! Some members get dressed up to attend the event. Photo by Grace Flynn
Audience members gathering to enjoy the ceremony! Some members get dressed up to attend the event. Photo by Grace Flynn

Crisp air, warm smiles, spiritual dancing and the burning of the sour spirits from last winter is what Vinotok is all about. For the past 32 years, a local artist in Crested Butte builds a giant figure made out of wood, steel and “grumps.” The grumps stand for grievances that locals share. They write them down and put them in boxes to be washed away for the new season.

On September 24, locals and visitors gathered on Elk Street, which is in the middle of Crested Butte, and share the experience of people dressed in character, playing drums and dancing to the beat of the music.

The street is crowded with people listening to the story of the harvest and what each character plays a part in. This ritual is described as mumming. The story moves down the street until each of the characters reaches a large stage where the trial happens. This is where the audience listens to the agreement that the Grump needs to be burned along with evils of man like technology.

The green man that represents earth and nature, and a figure that represents technologies and the influence of development on nature, fight and battle each other until there is an agreement.  The grump is described as a scapegoat that is sentenced to death. The grump is about 25 feet tall and it is brought in during the trial.

Once the trial takes place and the agreement is to burn the Grump, a procession marches him down to the end of Elk Street where there is an open space. Once there, the characters place him in the middle of the open space and set him on fire.

When talking with locals and visitors, there are many different reactions to this ritual. People from all over Colorado come to watch and observe what happens every year in this small town. “A group of friends and I just happened to stumble upon this event years ago, and we try to come up as much as we can. We have been to this event four years now,” said a visitor from Vail.

A group of drummers follows the story down the street while playing. The drums are played by members of the Gunnison and Crested Butte community! Photo by Grace Flynn
A group of drummers follows the story down the street while playing. The drums are played by members of the Gunnison and Crested Butte community! Photo by Grace Flynn

First timers describe this experience as unique and say they feel welcomed during this event. It is an obscure event, and everyone is encouraged to take part. When asking first timers what they were expecting, different responses were given.

“I am expecting the ritual to be awesome and the thought of cleaning the soul of anger is pretty cool!” said Melanie Turner, who is a freshman at Western.

At the end, new comers are left with the vision of the giant statue lit up in flames, the characters from the stories, and the community members who take the tradition to heart.

Second timers are more prepared for what is going to happen, and are excited to participate for yet another year. One notable difference at the 2016 event was that the Grump was not as intensely burned as it was last year.

Community members remember that the fire from last year was so hot, it caused audience members to be burned by the flames. The flames from the fire also reached extreme height, and caused parts of the statue to fly into community member yards and cause damage to their property.

Vinotok is a tradition that starts the year off right for the avid skiers and snowboarders. The tradition is a vital part of the Crested Butte community, and the season would not feel the same without it!

 The bad memories of what happened in the year before are no longer on the minds of the snow shredders, and the community is ready for a new season to make new memories on the mountain!

The Mountaineers Have Come Home

A look into the start of the season for Western Athletics.

Nicholas A. Fischer / Staff Writer

Members of the Mountaineer sports team. Photo by Nicholas Fischer
Members of the Mountaineer sports team.                                      Photo by Nicholas Fischer

 

While classes have been in session for over a month, and games have already been played at home, homecoming weekend has officially launched the start of the 2016-17 year for the Mountaineer community.

On Friday September 23, 2016, Western students embraced the town of Gunnison with a parade of club floats through downtown before lighting the world’s largest collegiate symbol, The W on W Mountain, on fire, in addition to a bonfire above the Mountaineer Bowl. To cap off Homecoming week on Saturday, the Mountaineers hosted a 5k run to benefit student athletes, and a football game against in state rival #23 ranked Colorado School of Mines.

Mountaineers representing the various NCAA sports teams at Western joined together on what was the largest float in the Homecoming parade, a flatbed trailer filled with members of the wrestling, swimming and diving, basketball, and track teams. However, this was just a small fraction of about 370 student athletes on one of the eleven NCAA Division II teams at Western. In addition to the NCAA team float, the Mountaineer club and mountain sports teams came out in force to represent their respective teams on their own floats.

NCAA student athletes make up one fifth of the academic community at Western and have a history of success in the classroom as well as out of it.

On September 23, it was announced that 49 Mountaineers received Academic Achievement awards from the Division II Athletic Directors Association for cumulating a 3.5 GPA over two academic years. This year’s awards make it consecutive years that the Mountaineers took home the most Academic Achievement Awards of all schools in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC).

Football player, Austin Eckler, with his mother Suzanne Eckler. Photo by Nicholas Fischer
Football player, Austin Eckler, with his mother Suzanne Eckler. Photo by Nicholas Fischer

In addition, those national awards come on the heels of a spring 2016 semester that saw 84 mountaineers make the Athletic Directors Honor Role with a GPA of at least 3.5. In addition, the 360 student athletes posted and impressive cumulative GPA of 3.01 for the 2015/16 year. This sets a high academic bar for the current student athletes at Western to strive for.

At the inaugural Homecoming Mountaineer 5k run on Saturday, Western students Brandon Supernaw and Katelynn Martinez were the first to cross the first line. The Homecoming Race was organized as a fund raising event for Mountaineer Athletic Association and their support of the student athletes at Western. J.E. Dunn Construction sponsored the race held above the Mountaineer Bowl.

Then with a large and loud homecoming crowd leading the way, Austin Eckler rushed for three touchdowns while catching two more to help the mountaineers win 45-31 against the Colorado School of Mines. When asked what helped the team the most to get the win, Eckler said, “The crowd was awesome today. They really helped push us over the top to get the win.” The crowd for the Homecoming game was filled with students and families that got louder as the back and forth contest went on. It did seem that every time Eckler broke a tackle or ran over a defender, the crowd would go nuts and propel him into the end zone time and time again. And when the game was on the line in the closing minutes, the defense stepped up and sent the Colorado School of Mines high powered offense to the bench scoreless two times.

Mountaineer Football started the season with a disappointing 34-14 loss to Colorado Mesa University on September 23. Since then, the Mountaineers have come on strong winning their next three games. Senior running back Austin Eckler and senior quarterback Brett Arrivey, have kept the offense running on all cylinders this season while the defense has been improving with every down they play under the leadership of a large senior class.

On September 10, the Mountaineer Football team was able to bring the Colorado Classic trophy back to Western with a 56-25 victory over Adams State during the Hall of Fame Game. That game was followed up by a 24-15 road win over Chadron State College. Those two victories set up a conference match up for the Homecoming game that the Western fans were aching for.

The homecoming win moved Western into third place in the RMAC standings with a record of 3-1. Mountaineer Football will return to Mountaineer Stadium on October 15 to face Black Hills State University in their second to last home game of the season.

After splitting its first two conference games, Western’s Women’s Soccer team has found itself in the middle of the RMAC standings with a 3-3-1 overall record as of September 23. After a four game road trip that started on September 18, the Mountaineers will get their homecoming when they play Fort Lewis College on October 2 at Gateway Field. This will start an important four game homestead during conference play in which the team can make a push for the conference tournament.

Western’s Women’s Volleyball has been finding its stride as they start conference play after mixed success in the season’s opening tournaments. Seniors Allison Walker, Tori Gehrty, Amanda Maestas, Avery Buckholder and Molly Hothan have led their fellow Mountaineers through 6 hard fought victories. Western was sitting in a five-way tie for second place in the RMAC with a 2-1 conference record and are 6-5 overall heading into their Saturday night match against Regis University. The Mountaineers Volleyball will make their homecoming to Paul Wright Gym on October 7 vs New Mexico Highlands University.

Seniors Georgia Porter and John Patterson and junior, Alicia Konieczek, as well as redshirt freshman Ross Husch have been pacing the Mountaineer Cross Country Women’s and Men’s teams this season. At the 2016 Mountaineer/Cowboy invite at Gunnison Middle School on September 17, Porter and Patterson won individual titles while leading their teams to second and first place finishes, respectively. Porter was also awarded the RMAC Runner of the Week for that race. The Mountaineer Cross Country teams will host W Mountain Race on October 8.

Up to date schedules, results, and standings about Western’s NCAA teams can be found at gomountaineers.com. To discover all the cool things that Western’s Mountain Sports teams have been up to on the mountains visit: wscumountainsports.com. And check out the Western Club Sports at western.edu or stop by campus recreation.

Dustin Fife: Meet the Newest Library Director

Roberta Marquette-Strain / Senior Staff Writer

librarian

For students, a trip to the library is simple. They show up, peruse through book selections, study with friends, or finish that essay that is due in 10 minutes.

It’s a different story for those who work behind the scenes, or shelves, of the library.

Dustin Fife, Leslie J. Savage’s new library director said, “It’s all about connecting with individuals and helping them where they want to go. Intellectually, in their careers, and in their personal life.” In his new position as Director of Library Services at Western, Fife hopes to make the library as integral as possible to its many patrons.

“I hope to help students get where they want to go with their lives. To create the knowledge that is important to them, to get the experience that is important to them so that they can grow,” Fife said. “I hope to help the faculty to help them move further in their careers. At its very core, a library is a service. An idea that no one really accomplishes anything on their own. That it takes resources, it takes other people.”

This is why Fife is committed to collaborate with anyone who may walk through his door. If he is faced with a question or a request, Fife will work his hardest to answer it.

“I would love for anyone to walk into my office to talk to me about the things they need,” said Fife. “Libraries are about collaboration. Libraries are about engaging with members of the community. That’s what I want to do.”

To accomplish that, Fife has taken the time to get to know Western and its many communities within. That means starting with his own community within the library.

“I want to listen to the staff on what they need now and in the future,” Fife commented.

Renee Barney, the information literacy librarian, mentioned that he has taken a lot of time to get to know the library staff

“He sat down with each of us individually to see what we’re like and what we want to see happen,” Barney said, adding that Fife’s energy and fresh ideas are sure to move the library further.

By taking the time to get to know his staff and the university, he is now a part of the campus community. In addition to this campus community, he loves being a Gunnisonite.

“The community is beautiful and the university itself is beautiful,” Fife commented. “I’ve been to a lot of universities and Western has this incredibly healthy environment for its staff and students.”

Fife mentioned that he has no immediate plans to make any big changes to the library. But his commitment to collaboration, and his ability to help others through library services, is bound to make a significant change.

“My goal is to make the library as integral as possible,” said Fife. “I hope to help students get where they want to go with their lives, to help that faculty move further in their careers and to create the knowledge that is important to them.”

Fife is excited to meet students and help them in the library in the coming years.

Raise a Banner

Western students attends three-day Red Rocks Church conference

Morgan Aragon / Staff Writer

The Red Conference in Lakewood, Colorado. Photo by Morgan Aragon
The Red Conference in Lakewood, Colorado. Photo by Morgan Aragon

Lakewood, Colo.—The  Red Conference, hosted by the Red Rocks young adults’ ministry, welcomed over 400 young adults aged 18-29 on Mar 3-5 for three days of world renown speakers, worship sets, concerts, community, and fun. Several current Western students and alumni attended the conference to be encouraged in their faith.

Young adults poured into the church building with their Red Conference lanyards, red bracelets, devotional materials, bible, pens, and notebooks, eager to grow their faith, and for some people ,to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the first time.

Western student Will Stark drove from Gunnison all the way to the Lakewood Red Rocks Church campus to attend the event. “What made the trip worth driving four hours from Gunnison was the ability to connect with people in a way that’s meaningful. Everyone there is kind of in the same stage of life: a bunch of college-aged students trying to figure out their responsibilities, and more importantly figuring out the purpose of their lives,” said Stark.

The conference began on Thursday night on Mar. 3 with world-famous Hillsong New York Pastor, Carl Lentz. Lentz and Chad Veach are known for their faith influence on pop-sensation, Justin Bieber. Bieber cancelled shows early last year to attend a weekend with Lentz at his church in New York. Lentz kicked off the night, at the Red Conference, with a powerful message about accepting God’s wonderful embrace that he offers everyone. “The reality of being a Christian is dying to your flesh day in and day out, submitting control of your life, but saying not my way but your way, Jesus” said Lentz.

That night Christian Rap sensations, Andy Mineo and NF, put on an electrifying concert for the conference attendees. The conference continued throughout the weekend with messages from well-known speakers such as Shawn Johnson, Julia Veach, Chad Veach, Nick Nilson, and Jessie Davis.

The conference attendees had an opportunity to make a difference in the Denver community through the Red Conference’s Generation Outreach Event on Friday afternoon. Over 400 young adults spent over four hours volunteering at the Boys and Girls club of America, Food Pantry of the Rockies, and the Hope House. Volunteers spent time playing with kids, cleaning facilities, and brought a light of Jesus in these communities.

The weekend ended with passionate young adults leaving the church with a desire to make a positive difference in the community. Raise a Banner, the theme from the conference, comes from the book of Isaiah Chapter 13 verse 2, which says, “Raise a banner on a bare hilltop, shout to them; beckon to them to enter the gates of the nobles.” The conference was dedicated to making the Denver Community a beacon of hope, and hundreds of young adults set out to make that difference.

“The biggest thing I learned from the Red Conference is that God uses everyone if you let Him. You don’t know what will change a person’s life. Whether that’s a heartfelt hug or a simple song of surrender: He uses it all,” said Stark.
The Red Conference is held every March and is open to anyone ages 18-29 years old. Red Rocks Church is hosting a Women’s Conference in Lakewood on Apr 28-30. For more information on this conference visit http://www.redrockswomensconference.com. For more information of Red Rocks Church visit http://www.redrockschurch.com. For a recap video on this year’s Red Conference please view it at https://vimeo.com/158524153.