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Offered online and on campus.

Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre will present “Healing and Liberation Through Embracing Hopelessness.” This lecture, based on Dr. De La Torre’s book, Embracing Hopelessness, will make three movements: (1) a rejection of Eurocentric Christianity, (2) an exploration of how hope has been used to reinforce oppressive structures, and (3) an exploration of a methodology by which to engage praxis.

Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim will present her lecture, “Healing Our Broken Humanity,” drawing from two of her books, Invisible: Theology and the Experience of Asian American Women and Healing Our Broken Humanity: Practices for Revitalizing the Church and Renewing the World. We live in conflicted times. Our newsfeeds are filled with inequality, division, and fear. We want to make a difference and see justice restored because Jesus calls us to be a peacemaking and reconciling people. Youth ministry leaders need tools to bring healing and hope to a broken world. There are ten ways to help transform society, including lament, repentance, relinquishing power, reinforcing agency, and more. Embodying these practices enables us to be the new humanity in Jesus Christ, so the church and world can experience reconciliation, justice, unity, peace, and love. In this lecture, discover how to bring change and healing to a dehumanized world.

Father Gregory Boyle will present his lecture, “Affectionate Awe… Compassionate Abiding.” In this lecture, Fr. Boyle will share how Homeboy Industries, the social enterprise he founded which grew into the largest gang-intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world, wants to bear the image a circle of compassion that imagines no one standing outside the circle. Homeboy Industries strives to dismantle the barriers that exclude, acknowledge that everyone is unshakably good, and demonstrate how we belong to each other.

Online Seminar—Navigating Injustice: Race, Faith, and Mental Health, with Dr./Dra. Nabil Tueme

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children’s Hospital Association, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry have declared the mental health crisis among young people in the United States a national emergency. For young Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), the mental health crisis of their generation is amplified by historical trauma, discrimination, and other race-based forms of exclusion. Yet despite these stressors, young BIPOC are flourishing in many ways. In this seminar, sociologist Nabil Tueme will explore research findings that young BIPOC report rates of flourishing, agency, and self-esteem similar to their white counterparts. What do young BIPOC do to stay mentally healthy, and how can faith leaders better serve the mental health of young BIPOC in their lives? These and other questions will be explored to help faith leaders address complex topics like mental health, racial identity, and racial injustice from a sociological perspective.

On-campus participants will select one of the following seminars to attend for three sessions:

Leaving No One Behind: Centering Ministry with Neurodivergent Youth, with Rev. Dr. Erin Raffety

Three years out from the onset of the pandemic, our eagerness for healing in the church can often champion a “return to normal,” that wasn’t so inclusive or hospitable to disabled young people to begin with. How can healing be a balm for all rather than another trauma for disabled youth to endure? What can the experiences of neurodivergent young people (young people with ADHD, autism, and other emotional and behavioral conditions) in the pandemic teach us about God’s transformative healing? This seminar invites youth leaders to take stock of the current challenges in supporting disabled and neurodivergent young people in the face of trauma and rebuilding. First, we re-examine the pandemic through a neurodivergent lens not of mere loss but also gain. Next, we re-evaluate how Gospel healing narratives with respect to disability can often be trauma-inducing rather than wholistically healing. Finally, with God’s help, we envision what a healing hermeneutic may look like that centers ministry with neurodivergent youth, and together, we explore practical solutions for how we can move toward healing that does not leave any of us behind.

For Such a Time as This: Mental Health in Youth Ministry, with Kenji Kuramitsu, LCSW

Emerging research identifies young people today as members of the most technologically interconnected generation on record—and among the loneliest. Youth ministers may be especially poised to notice and to interrupt the ways that internal and external pressures often conspire to negatively impact the mental health of young people. Yet, many of us in caretaking professions notoriously find it difficult to maintain the same sustainable practices and protective factors recommended to the people in our care—to manage to feel alive and connected in this ongoing work. Drawing from theological and psychological theories of human development and integrating small group discussion, didactic, and experiential components, participants in this seminar will explore practical frameworks for fostering ministry environments that enforce resilience, integration, and healing in the lives of both youth and the adults who serve them.

Rupture & Repair: How We Make an Imperfect Way, with Micky Scott-Bey Jones

So much has been ruptured in the last three years—our routines, our communities, our connections, and our ways of working. Even some of our dearest relationships have been ruptured by death, disagreement, and isolation. There have also been attempts at repair—new ways forward, innovation, realizing what’s important, and trying to make the impossible possible. Through it all, we’ve had to face our humanity in big and small ways to work through interpersonal, congregational, and societal ruptures and repairs. In this seminar, join Micky Scott-Bey Jones, the Justice Doula, to discover what we can glean from this time of great rupture and repair that can give us direction for creating meaningful community, spaces of care and growth, and deeper relationships with our young people and with one another in the work of youth ministry.

I and Thou: Relationships, Meaning-Making, and Recovery from Loss and Trauma, with Jesse Bassett, MDiv, MSW

This seminar will invite youth leaders into a collaborative environment to explore loss and trauma on an individual, interpersonal, and communal level. Emphasis will be placed on self-reflection, self-awareness, and trauma stewardship as a vehicle for learning about grief and trauma-informed principles of care. Youth leaders will also discuss and explore the unique role the church can play in helping youth make meaning and recover from loss and trauma.

 (On-campus participants are invited to attend the following electives)

Play, on Purpose, with Rev. Dr. Lakisha Lockhart
In this interactive elective, participants will not only learn about the theological, spiritual, psychological, and neurological dimensions and benefits of play, but they will also engage in various play practices. Participants will have fun, dig deeper into play as a resource for grieving and healing, and even leave with additional play practices to use. Come open and ready to learn about and embody what can occur when you Play, on Purpose.

Youth Ministry and Preaching Amid Trauma, with Rev. Dr. Kimberly Wagner
In these pandemic-scarred days where gun violence is on the rise and communities are being bombarded with traumatic loss and natural disasters, many of our congregations, youth, and their families find themselves living in the shadow of trauma. Though language often fails us in the midst of trauma, preachers and faith leaders are nevertheless called upon to “offer a Word” and find ways to care for their hurting communities. In this elective workshop, we will begin by considering both the individual and communal impacts of trauma. Understanding the nature of trauma, we will then turn to think about how we might best preach and minister with and among youth and their families as they encounter traumatic events and realities. Finally, we will think about the role of preachers, pastors, and leaders as they care for youth and communities contending with trauma.

Youth Ministry in Unexpected Places: Lessons From Chaplaincy, with Revs. Marty Tracy and Sarah Jordan
Come explore how the approach of professional chaplaincy can enrich your work with youth and young adults! Learn from the experiences of a Navy chaplain and a psychiatric chaplain who unexpectedly found themselves in youth ministry. You will walk away with skills, tools, and resources for tending to the mental health of yourself as a caregiver and of your youth and young adults.

The Missing Voices Within, with Dr. Justin Forbes
Over the last four years, we have learned a lot about youth ministry by attending to historically marginalized young people, such as teen parents, youth in the foster care system, LGBTQIA+ youth, young people with disabilities, and more. At Flager College, we walked with a dozen congregations attempting to listen to, learn from, and take seriously the lives of young people that are often overlooked or forgotten. For sure, these young people don’t find themselves in the seats of power in our congregations, and yet their voices resound with insights into what God seems to be doing across the landscape of youth ministry. Participants in this elective will explore some of these insights and consider the ways in which the often-prophetic voices of marginalized young people might be inviting us into a deeper intimacy with God and one another.

Youth Ministers as Healers Amid the Traumas of Climate Change & Environmental Injustice, with Dr. Ryan Juskus
What does it look like for youth ministers to bear witness to the good news of God’s love for human and other creatures at a time of proliferating wounds in the earth, our communities, and our hearts? How can youth ministers help young people become hopeful agents of whole-person, whole-earth gospel witness in their communities? In this elective session, Ryan will lead participants in exploring theoretical frameworks and practical strategies for youth ministers to help young people develop faith-informed responses to two of the existential challenges facing communities today: climate change and environmental injustice. The first part of the session will focus on theological and practical approaches stemming from Ryan’s expertise. The second part will be a workshop, giving participants an opportunity to share their experiences of how environmental and climate challenges intersect with youth ministry and consider practical tools they can use in their ministry.

The Spirit Groans: Praying with the Spirit, with Elizabeth Moore.
When caring for someone in pain, we can be at a loss for what to say or do to show someone that they are not alone. Paul’s letter to the Romans reminds us not only that we have abiding companionship with the Holy Spirit, but also that we have been given the Spirit to help us when we don’t know what to pray. This interactive elective will explore a gently charismatic spiritual practice of listening prayer—a way of slowing to hear from the Holy Spirit and partner with how God is already compassionately interceding on our behalf. This model can be added to your toolkit for ministry or passed along to teach youth how to engage in their own dynamic relationship with the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual Direction
On-campus participants will have the opportunity to sign up for a 50-minute session of spiritual direction with one of our four spiritual directors—John Carl Lewis, Dr. Carrie Myers, Rev. Hayley O’Connor, and Rev. Julia McKeon. These confidential, 1-1 sessions will allow participants a judgment-free, sacred space to share the concerns of their hearts with someone trained to facilitate an encounter with God. Registration for these limited sessions will be available at the conference.

Gentle Yoga
On-campus participants will have the opportunity to participate in a gentle yoga practice with Rev. Laura DiPanfilo, a certified Kripalu yoga instructor and Episcopal priest. Laura will lead participants through a calming practice of breath and movement with the intention of connecting body and spirit. Bring comfortable clothing! No experience necessary; all levels are welcome.

Creatio Divina: Reflective Art Practice
On-campus participants will have the opportunity to engage in creatio divina with Carmelle Beaugelin. Creatio Divina, hosted by BeauFolio Studio, is an embodied creative practice that incorporates the ancient Christian spiritual practice of lectio divina—divine reading and scripture meditation—alongside a guided practice of sacred artmaking. Similar to lectio divina, creatio divina as a practice of meditating on creation is a long-standing Christian practice. This curated version offers a five-movement flow that invites makers and creators of all kinds into a practice of artmaking designed to be accessible and communal for those who would not consider themselves traditional artists.

Get Unstuck Ministry Coaching
On-campus participants will have the opportunity to sign up for a 50-minute session of ministry coaching designed to help youth workers “get unstuck.” Chris Curtis and Martin Saunders of Youthscape are master innovators and experts in the art of getting to the root of obstacles to untangle and try something new. These 1-1 sessions will provide participants with an experienced thought partner with an “outside perspective” to the questions we’re too fully inside to see clearly. Registration for these limited sessions will be available at the conference.

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