Urbana is a major Christian missions convention sponsored by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for college students. This event is designed to inform Christian students about current issues around the world that missionaries face, to declare the biblical mandate for cross-cultural missions, and motivate them to participate in missions. The first Urbana was held in 1946 in Toronto, and since then, it has generally been held every three years. From 1948–2003, Urbana took place at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with the primary venue after 1963 being the Assembly Hall, the school's basketball arena. Because of insufficient space at the University of Illinois campus, Urbana 06 was held in St. Louis, Missouri, at Edward Jones Dome.
Each Urbana lasts for nearly one week at the end of December and ending with a final communion on New Year's Eve. At Urbana 2006, nearly 22,500 participants attended, growing from 575 attendees in 1946. The conference is well-known for bringing famous Christians to speak, such as Billy Graham, Luis Palau, John Stott, and Ravi Zacharias. In addition to the main speakers, participants are offered a choice of hundreds of elective classes offered throughout the week, relating to specific topics within the general theme of university and international missions. Worship is also a major highlight of the conference; special attention is paid to incorporating diverse worship styles, even including songs in foreign languages. An "International Student Track" was first offered at Urbana 2003, offering special housing options and electives to international students interested in spending time with other students from their respective countries. Urbana 06 again held a track for international students, as well as tracks that focused on the global HIV–AIDS pandemic, the growing business as mission movement, and the needs of the world's largest slum communities in the developing world.
Urbana 06 speakers included Rick Warren, pastor, and author of The Purpose Driven Life; Ray Bakke, a professor and specialist in urban ministry; Bono from the band U2 (via video); and Ajith Fernando, a well-respected Bible teacher who is the director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka.
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