Fall Recap 2016-2017 Part 2

This is Part 2 of a two-part series! If you want to be caught up, go check out Part 1!

The Campout

On November 5th and 6th, we went on a camping trip at the Beirbaum’s farm. The Beirbaums are members of our Lead Team for Emerge, and are crucial part in organizing events and fun outings for us students. They have access to a huge field in Defuniak Springs where we set up our tents, all of our glamping supplies, and started a giant campfire. It was a great experience overall! I am a firm believer that it doesn’t matter what you are doing, if you are doing it with friends, it will be extremely hilarious and extremely fun. At Emerge, there is a lot on our schedule and a lot of deadlines that we have to meet, so it was nice to get away from the campus and spend a day with no responsibilities. They didn’t schedule anything for us to do, so we were free to roam around the farm to do whatever we wanted. It was great!

On the farm, they had three horses and a donkey that were also free to roam around and sometimes made their way over to our tents. Everyone had fun petting the animals and getting to know them. We had a golf cart that we got to ride around, back and forth to the house and the barn and then back to our campsite. This was my first time on a golf cart, so I was excited to get to drive it. It reminded me of the safari tours at Disney. When we first got there, we spent our daylight hours throwing the football, and the Frisbee (When we weren’t petting the animals). It was really fun to be out in the open field throwing the football back and forth. In the evening we got the fire going strong. It was the biggest fire I’d ever seen and it was extremely HOT. I couldn’t stand near it too long, because the heat reached a couple feet out all around the fire. Roasting marshmallows on it was definitely an interesting task. We had sticks to roast them with, but they weren’t long enough, so we had to stand pretty close to the fire. I would go up and start to roast one, and then have to run back and let my face cool down!

For dinner, we popped out the grill and had hamburgers and hotdogs- delicious! We were definitely stocked full on food that night. We had chips and cookies for snacks. We had the s’mores, all the food from dinner and some brownies for dessert. We were also set up with hot water for hot chocolate. I can tell that the leaders really love their Emerge students. As it got later, most people sat by the fire, or sat in front of the big screen and projector we brought to watch that night’s football game. The remaining students who weren’t watching football gathered up to play a game of Man-Hunt in the dark around the field. If you have never played Man-Hunt, it is basically like hide-and-go-seek with a cooler name, and it’s even scarier in the dark. One person finds everyone else that went and hid, until the last person is found. It seems like a simple game, but we felt totally lost wandering around a pitch black field. There weren’t really that many places to hide, so eventually it just became a game of who could be the quietest and who was wearing the darkest clothing, so that they couldn’t be seen in the dark. Again, with friends anything is fun. I don’t know too much about the past Emerge classes, but I know this one is particularly comedic, so it always makes for a great time.

After the night was pretty much winding down, the football game was over, and all the food was gone, the majority of people went to bed, while a group of us stayed up around the fire. I think my favorite part of the campout was the conversations we had around the fire. I love food, and games, and sports and all of that, but I love a good conversation. It was so late, and we were so tired, that it went everywhere from deep theological talks, to funny stories about our past that you only tell your closest friends. I learned a lot about a few of the other interns that night, and I think that nights like this are what make the bond so strong among the Emerge alumni. We spend so much time together and we make so many great memories, but the best about it is learning more and more about everyone. We are only in our third month and I feel like there is so much more to learn. I hope for many more nights like the night by the fire, and many more fun adventures like that campout. We bond together in these times of fun, and we build it further in the hard times. We build each other up when it gets hard, so that we can laugh together while we take it easy. That’s what Emerge life is all about, and the Campout this year really highlighted that for me.

Fall Recap 2016-2017 Part 1

Hey guys!

Emerge 2016-2017 has been up to a lot since day one. The students have been settling into Emerge life and developing closer relationships with our church, each other, and most importantly, God. It’s November now. Destin is finally starting to get cool weather and orange leaves are appearing on the trees, and the students just got back from their first long break for Thanksgiving. They’ve been up to a lot these past few months, and today on the blog, we’re going to update all of you guys on the events and experiences that the students have had since September. Tiffany Tripp is a Year 1 Student and is passionate about writing, so she’s done us the honor of giving us her perspective on some of the key moments and events that have happened so far. Without further ado, here’s Emerge 2016-2017’s Fall Recap!

Opening Weekend

I remember that I was ready to come to Emerge the moment I applied. I am a professional procrastinator so I stayed up till 1am the night before packing. But it didn’t matter. I was too excited to sleep anyways. I didn’t think I was too nervous until I pulled up to the campus. I remember there were so many cars and so many people running around everywhere. Parents, fellow interns, leaders, and volunteers were helping us unpack our cars, and as I walked down the hall of my dorm till I saw my name on the door of my room it all hit me. This was real. My parents helped unpack some things, just to fit everything in and clean up a bit, but there were still boxes on my bed when we left for Parent Orientation. At the orientation, my parents mingled which helped me meet some of the other students, while they heard a little more about the program, and were comforted about where they were leaving me. I went for one last dinner with my folks, and my siblings later that night. When they dropped me off at the dorm, we prayed together in my room and they left. I spent the first night of Emerge alone in my room, finishing up the rest of my unpacking. I heard girls laughing in the room next to me, but I was too scared to go introduce myself. This was an ironic first night, because by the next night we were all hanging out in each other’s rooms, staying up till 1am every morning talking and getting to know each other. I remember on the third or fourth night, we ended up sitting in the floor of the hallway talking before we moved into someone’s room to sit on their bed.

The second day of opening weekend we all had breakfast together and I got to see all the students alone for the first time. We all introduced ourselves, and I was unsure what to say. I was hoping that the nervousness would pass quickly and I would be able to be myself around the people I was living with for the next 8 months. On Sunday night, we had dinner and a game night which was another chance for us all to really get to know each other. We told more fun facts about ourselves, and played some hilarious games to really break the ice.

The next morning, we had our first chapel. Our director, Ms. Heather, had written cards with a scripture on it for each of us that she had felt God wanted to share with us. The scripture I was given confirmed things God had been revealing to me in the weeks before Emerge, and confirmed that this is the place He meant for me to be. We wrote letters to ourselves to read when we finish Emerge. I don’t remember what I wrote even now, but I am sure I will have grown so much by graduation, because I have already grown so much now. Even the problems from just two months ago, seem so small now and God is continuously growing me and bringing new things up and working on me. We all had prayer time after that, and we were given the opportunity to pray with the second year interns who had already been through Emerge from the past few years. It was the afternoon when we had the infamous “Beach Olympics”. I had already read all about them on this blog, and wasn’t sure how I felt about it yet. I was nervous, but we had a great time. Our team lost almost every challenge, but I think the event did its job, because I didn’t feel a need to be shy after that day. That night we had our first dorm meeting and got to know our RA, Meagan, a little more and discuss different dorm rules and chores. I have loved every dorm meeting since then.

I’ve been here for over two months now, and there is no nervousness, or shyness left in me.

Fall Festival

At the end of October, Destiny Worship Center holds a Fall Festival every year on Halloween night. They set up booths, and rides and give out candy at all of their campuses. Since I am an Emerge Year 1 intern this year, I got to participate in this wonderful event. I was placed at the Destin campus, which is the central and largest campus of them all. We got there in the morning to set up, but our Destiny Kids ministry had been preparing for this event for weeks. During the services that led up to the event, the church had been asking for candy donations and volunteers to help out. Emerge, with the help of some awesome volunteers, put together some of the booths and got everything we needed.

The event was held in the church parking lot, so we had to move everything outside in preparation for the night. It was a lot of heavy lifting, shifting things around, and making it look great. We only had to put out the carnival booths, because the bigger rides and bouncy houses, were already set up, and we had food provided from food trucks. I personally got sent on an errand for three tubs worth of candy (we went through our first batch in about an hour!). The Destin campus had a total of eleven tubs to give out that night. Because we had so many volunteers and so many Emerge interns, set up only took a few hours. We were told that we finished the fastest out of all the previous Emerge classes (Go Team!). We were even given some time to go home and rest before coming back for the big night.

When we got back to the church, about an hour before the event started, we got all the candy set up and then went to our places. I was in charge of one of the pre-school carnival games called “Treasure Hunt”. It was fun playing with the little kids and then watching them go crazy for the candy! I was really proud of my church for putting together such an amazing event. There were so many people, the line never stopped even for my game. EVERYTHING was free at the event. All the rides, the food, and the candy just served as a blessing to our local community. And the kids looked like they were having a lot of fun. Each campus experienced the same enthusiasm and turnout for the event. All-together, it was a fun night to be had!


Thanks for reading! We had so much to post that we split it into two! Go check out Part 2 to read out our Annual Emerge Campout!

Welcome Emerge 2016-2017!

Hey guys!


What a great time of year it is. The cool air is fast approaching, the tourists are starting to retreat back to their homes, and another group of students has arrived in Destin for our 5th year of Emerge Leadership Academy! They’re just finishing their third week right now, and are all adjusting to their classes, ministry times, homework, and their new sleep schedules after all the other things are completed. The students this year are an incredibly diverse group with six states from the U.S. representing, as well as our first international student from Ashdod, Israel! They have begun to make friends, create memories, and apply the knowledge that they’ve already been receiving in these few weeks. As an RA, it’s a remarkable thing to see the students walk the same path that you did just a year earlier. We as an Emerge staff all remember our times in either Emerge or other internships and we’re overjoyed to see the same change that we experienced happen in these students lives as well. Throughout the nine months, continue to check back on our blog so that you can keep up with our students. Some will be posting journal entries of their time going through the program, and every once and a while we will be posting glimpses into the life of an Emerge student. We’re excited for what’s to come in these nine months, and we’re grateful to God for entrusting us with sixteen amazing next generation leaders. Have a great day, and be blessed!


Benjamin Lowrimore

Guys RA


The Lord's Prayer

Welcome to Emerge Devotionals! Each Friday, we have a Scripture Memory class with our teacher and friend Mr. Jim Perry and his wife Mrs. Sherry Perry. These devotionals are taken straight from the scriptures that we study during class. We hope they enrich you whenever and wherever you read them, and we hope they also give you a look into what we Emerge students are currently studying and meditating on. Enjoy!

Matthew 6:9-13

What a powerful prayer spoken by Jesus Himself. It's a model for us to follow in all of our moments of solitude when we lift our thoughts and voices to God. Does it have to follow this model exactly? Of course not. In verse eight, Jesus tells us that God already knows what we will ask for before we even make our requests known to Him. This isn't a formula to follow, but rather a well to draw from. When we are wrapped up in worship of God we can whisper to Him, "Hallowed be Your Name." When we are worried about what this next season holds for us, we can pray, "Give me this day my daily bread." When we want the Holy Spirit to break out into our lives, and our community, and our city, we can pray, "On Earth as it is in Heaven." This coming week, don't be afraid to use these inspired words to express how you feel to our Creator. He already knows what you're asking anyway. Why not put a little spin on it? 

The Awkwardness of Beach Olympics

We’re gonna let you in on a little secret that happens during opening weekend at Emerge. Being that this is only my first year being involved with Emerge, I’m not sure what the first few opening weekends looked like, but I know that Beach Olympics is by far one of the most awkward things they make you do while being here. Approximately forty eight hours after you moved into Emerge, the lead team and Emerge staff drag you to the beach, split you into teams, and make you play awkward games against each other. I could try and explain everything that happened that day, but I think these pictures and comments from the Vineyard class say it all. 

I had to tie myself to Ben. Our bodies were touching. We fell and our bodies stuck together...we had to peel ourselves apart. And the sand. The sand got between the bands and our ankles and it really hurt. - Logan Pilcher

I had to tie myself to Ben. Our bodies were touching. We fell and our bodies stuck together...we had to peel ourselves apart. And the sand. The sand got between the bands and our ankles and it really hurt. - Logan Pilcher

I was really excited about it! We got to do a lot of shoulder to shoulder activities and that’s what I’m all about. - Michelle Thompson

I was really excited about it! We got to do a lot of shoulder to shoulder activities and that’s what I’m all about. - Michelle Thompson

My quitting moment was that first opening weekend. Beach Olympics definitely raised the awkwardness by like, a million. I try not to think about that weekend. - Zach Brown    I thought, "If this is what Emerge is going to be like, I’ve made a huge mistake." - Kelly Phillipson

My quitting moment was that first opening weekend. Beach Olympics definitely raised the awkwardness by like, a million. I try not to think about that weekend. - Zach Brown

I thought, "If this is what Emerge is going to be like, I’ve made a huge mistake." - Kelly Phillipson

The team building was so awesome. - Ryan Doonan

The team building was so awesome. - Ryan Doonan

My favorite part was having our feet tied together. Once I stepped forward and almost landed a perfect split...I thought, "This is what the next few months of my life are going to look like. God was going to be stretching me in different directions." John 21:18 came to mind.   "  Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." -   Meghan Munsch

My favorite part was having our feet tied together. Once I stepped forward and almost landed a perfect split...I thought, "This is what the next few months of my life are going to look like. God was going to be stretching me in different directions." John 21:18 came to mind. "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." - Meghan Munsch

To get a better understanding of why we have to endure so much awkwardness in one event, we asked some of the lead team what their thoughts on the olympics were. Here’s what we got:

The Beach Olympics are one of my favorite things we do opening weekend. It's a time where students begin to open up and we get to see their personality. Students are stretched to get out of their shell and work together as a team. I'd say just watching the interns who you thought were quiet get really competitive is always hilarious. I also love to watch the interns who aren't from Destin enjoy the beautiful beach. I love watching everyone have fun and make awesome memories! - Shannon Kanaday

The best thing about the Beach Olympics is that I get a chance to see how all of the new students interact together. It's an instant way to see personalities and attitudes. I get to see how the students will handle pressure under stress, and how they work together with other students. My favorite moment at the Beach Olympics day is when we all relax in the water afterwards and talk about the events . I get to witness the students becoming friends for the first time. To me the Beach Olympics is never awkward, it's always an incredible tool to help build community and relationships at Emerge. The crazy games and awkward challenges create funny memories that we all share, there's something about doing something ridiculous with a group of people that brings you close together. You can learn a lot about a person when you see them win or lose. Students can't help but show their true colors when they lose the Sandcastle challenge. It helps us all learn how we can interact better with each other and places we can encourage the students to be growing in over the next year. - Pastor Matt Ruckel

The Beach Olympics, even with all the awkwardness, really is a great way to get everyone out of their comfort-zones and working together. Does that change that fact that it’s still an awkward event? No, not at all. I think most of us agree that it was one of the most traumatizing things we've done at Emerge. Would we do it again? Absolutely. Because we had so many hilarious moments and formed such an amazing bond. So be ready future classes. You’ll get to enjoy this awkward day, too!

Four Things You Should Know About Living In Destin

Welcome to our Windows series! This is going to be a spontaneous series that highlights the little things that make up life at Emerge Leadership Academy. Wether it be our daily routines, our city, our church, or the many misadventures that have happened since we started, we hope this series will make you feel like you genuinely know the people behind the Emerge program. So enjoy this series, especially Kelly's great article about what you should know before moving to Destin!


There are so many great reasons for someone to come to Emerge Leadership Academy. The classes, ministry opportunities, and relationships alone make for a life changing experience; but the fact that all of this happens in picturesque Destin, Florida, definitely doesn’t hurt! Destin is a laid back beach community that bustles with chaos and busy tourists. It has all the charm and hospitality you’d expect from a southern town, but manages to have high end shopping and restaurants that draw in people from all over the country. Destin is a pretty unique place, making it the perfect setting for a unique program like Emerge. So if you’re interested in coming to Emerge, here are a few things you should know about living in Destin.


1. The weather is unpredictable.

            It’s no wonder why people like to vacation in Destin, or anywhere in Florida for that matter. The beaches are warm and there’s always a nice breeze coming in from the water; but it can change in an instant. At any moment there could be a thunderstorm. It might only last for a few minutes; or it might stick around for the rest of the week, leaving the entire town partially underwater. But rain or shine, there’s one thing you can always count on here in Destin: humidity!

2. The traffic is also unpredictable.

            The only thing that might be as temperamental as the weather in Destin is the traffic in Destin. This could be because of the tourists. (By the way, tourists are a real thing and for some reason they cause traffic to move super slow. No one really knows why.) It also could be because of good ole’ Highway 98. It’s basically the only road in town, and you have to drive on it to get just about anywhere. That means if there’s a wreck anywhere on 98, the whole thing gets backed up. What usually would be a five minute drive could easily become thirty. On the bright side, at least there’s pretty scenery to look at while you’re sitting in the car!

3. You might not go to the beach as much as you expected.

The beaches in the Destin area are some of the most beautiful in the world. The sand is sugar-white and the water is clear and calm. The beach is also easily accessible. It’s within walking distance from the Emerge campus. You’ll want to spend all your time there. However, you’ll find that living close to the beach is not the same as visiting or vacationing. Emerge, and life in general, will keep you busy. You might not make it to the beach as often as you hoped; but it makes visits to the beach that much more special and refreshing. So, take advantage of the beach being close by, but don’t be disappointed when you can’t make it there every day.

4. We don’t actually live in Destin.

            Yes, it’s true! Emerge is actually in Miramar Beach. It’s right next to Destin, but as far as most people around here are concerned, it’s all basically the same thing. This can get confusing when it comes to mailing addresses and such. That’s really the only time it even matters. Occasionally you may run into some locals who are very particular about specifying which town is which, but for the most part, everything in the region is considered “Destin.” At the end of the day, no matter what town we technically live in, it won’t take long for the Emerald Coast to start to feel like home.

Ok, so I've been a little hard on the Destin area, but seriously, this place is home. It's a beautiful town and we're incredibly blessed to be able to live in most people's vacation spot. Wether you're an out-of-towner or are near the Gulf Coast, you'll fall in love with Destin during Emerge!

- Kelly Phillipson        



Welcome to the Emerge Blog!

It is an honor to welcome you to this blog! I hope that you enjoy the content that will soon be flooding this site. For those of you who are a little in the dark on what this whole Emerge thing is, here’s a short summary. Emerge is a nine-month internship/ministry school where young adults are pushed and stretched in the areas of personal development, leadership, and faith. Emerge Leadership Academy started in 2012 by Steve and Jackie Vaggalis, the lead pastors of Destiny Worship Center. Pastor Steve had a desire in his heart to create a program that would reach the next generation and help them develop character, discover clarity, and deploy their calling. I’ve experienced this process second-hand as I’ve not only seen friends go through this process, but my own brother went through it as well. The visible shift that I saw in their lives was enough to draw me in, and in August of 2015 I enrolled as a student in the program. Without exaggerating, this has been one of the greatest and most impactful things that I’ve ever done in my life. The lessons I’ve learned, the places that I’ve been, and the people that I’ve come to love in this setting will be with me for the rest of my life, and I’m forever grateful to everyone that got me here.

You may be reading this blog as a member of our church, Destiny Worship Center. You hear me say it changed my life and you’re inspired to want to know more about what we’re actively doing in Emerge, as well as the church. Follow the blog and find out more! You may be reading this as a current or former Emerge student. In that case, follow the blog and keep up with the current students as well as the alumni. We can’t forget the classes that came before us! You also might be reading this and thinking to yourself, “Man, this Emerge program sounds pretty sweet!” In that case, we’re so excited that you’re interested! Absolutely follow the blog so you can learn more about who we are and what we do.

In closing, I just want to say how genuinely enthusiastic I am about making this blog. It’s going to give me the chance to share with all of you guys the amazing things that make up life at Emerge. It’s also going to give me the chance to write really cool articles and make really fun things for you guys with my fellow Emerge students! I hope and pray that you enjoy the time that you spend here, and that it sparks something inside you to either come to Emerge, or to just enjoy all that we post here.

Much love,

Benjamin Lowrimore