The 17th Annual Leadership Development Conference kicked off on Thursday, November 8, 2018, at Falls Creek Conference Center in the beautiful Arbuckle Mountains at Davis. Oklahoma. Phillips University Legacy Scholars arrived from colleges and universities, across the United States, that are currently or historically related with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Scholars and Mentors were welcomed and introduced. Friendships were rekindled and new ones were formed. With the icebreakers and facilitation training exercises conducted by our Leadership Development Facilitator, Troy Stende (, relationships were easily bonded.

For the first time, we were able to livestream portions of the Leadership Conference for supporters, mentors, and parents who were not able to attend. In the previous version of this article, links that were still active were provided so readers could also view the recorded sessions.

The Legacy Scholars were divided into 5 groups that created and led morning meditation, evening vesper, and Sunday worship and fellowship services each day. Legacy Scholars from various colleges/universities and future vocations came together to praise God with everyone attending. To coach and guide these young Christian leaders of the future were two Ministerial Consultants: Rev. Rick Hendricks, who received both his BA (’66) and MDiv (’69) from Phillips University, and Rev. Cassie Sexton-Riggs, a Legacy Scholar Alumna (2006-2010) who graduated from Lynchburg College in 2010 with a degree in History and received her MDiv in 2013 from Brite Divinity School. Each group was led by an upperclassman with 1st and 2nd year scholars mixed evenly through the groups.  This helped to further develop the leadership skills of the upperclassmen while building confidence in the 1st and 2nd Year Scholars and encouraging teamwork in the group. The services were a great way to start and end the days.

“The Power of One” was the theme for this year, and as the days progressed so did the development of the participants, Troy Stende’s learning plan utilized facilitation training in order to develop the following Neuro-Linguistics Programming Skills (NLP):

  • Be a powerful and inspiring communicator
  • Be skilled at reading non-verbal cues
  • Increase subconscious and sensory awareness
  • Master and be in control of thinking and emotions
  • Alleviate fears and phobias
  • Motivate and empower
  • Develop depth in personal and leadership relationships
  • Attain success and achievement
  • Rectify unwanted behaviors in yourself and others
  • Effectively communicate and get information from others

Troy utilized social justice programming where they discussed assumptions that are made about people, and assumptions people make of them. He also provided tools to combat stress and help with energy and alertness such as breathing techniques and nutritionist well as tools to rest and sleep.


Troy’s messages were celebrated as each participant wrote a challenge that is holding them back on a karate board and then broke through that challenge by breaking the board.


To keep the legacy of Phillips University alive, the history of the school and its traditions were presented to the 1st Year Legacy Scholars. This is a standing learning plan at the Annual Leadership Development Conference and is usually one of the highest rated items on the scholar evaluations. It is taught annually by Nancy Phillips, PU Grad ’71. Nancy is currently Chair of the Legacy Foundation Board of Directors.

Fifteen (15) Volunteer Leadership Projects were presented to the audience. Topics included spreading water awareness in California to preparing high-school students for college. The VSPs promote the servant leadership development aspect of the program. Each Scholar completes a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer service during the year.  The projects are pre-approved by the Undergraduate Scholarship Committee and must meet specific criteria, including showing an increased level of leadership and responsibility on an annual basis.