Gathering Add-Ons

Because connections made at the Gathering are a highlight for participants, we are offering a variety of ways for National Gathering attendees to connect with one another and expand beyond your normal circles. We will continually update this page as opportunities arise. Please note you must sign up for conversation groups and post-Gathering seminars during registration.

Post-Gathering Seminars

Ever wanted to go a little deeper than the traditional workshops at the National Gathering? This year we’re offering opportunities to do so. Register to stay afterward for 24 hours of intensive seminar with experts and peers. Give yourself an extra day and take the opportunity to add to what you ‘take home’ from the National Gathering.

These seminars will take place from 1:00-5:00pm Wednesday and 8:30am – noon Thursday.

If you would like to participate in a post-Gathering seminar, you must register for it when you register for the entire National Gathering. These seminars are an additional $75. Lunch is provided for post-Gathering attendees on Wednesday. Please note: you will add a post-Gathering seminar as a “ticket” in addition to your general registration. When you go to register, scroll down the list of tickets on Eventbrite to see the various post-Gathering seminars listed.

Some scholarship funds are available for registration costs. Please apply for these funds on our scholarship page.

Our post-Gathering seminar opportunities are as follows:

  • Manna for the People: Cultivating Creative Resources for Worship in the Wilderness — Paul Vasile, MaryAnn McKibben Dana, & LeAnn Hodges
  • Cultivated Ministry Seminar: Bearing Fruit through Theology, Accountability, Learning, and Storytelling — John Vest
  • Forming Generous Disciples — Tom Taylor
  • FILLED — Beyond the Mission Committee: Re-thinking How Your Church Engages in Local Mission — Kate Foster Connors & McKenna Lewellen
  • From Text to Sermon: Staying Faithful in a Changed Landscape — Dave Davis
  • The Color of Whiteness: Engaging White Privilege In and Through the Church — J.C. Austin

Click on the titles below to learn more about each seminar and its facilitator(s)!

Manna for the People

Manna for the People: Cultivating Creative Resources for Worship in the Wilderness

Facilitators: Paul Vasile, MaryAnn McKibben Dana, and LeeAnn Hodges

In this 24-hour addendum to the National Gathering, we will explore together how improvisation and singing open up life-giving spaces for creative engagement with our sacred texts and the gathered community.

We will delve into this year’s Eastertide passages from John. These stories offer a poetic telling of the mystery of the resurrected Christ and the embodiment of the Spirit.

We will use the tools of improvisation and the practice of paperless communal singing to break open these ancient stories, bridge the gap between our understanding of the Gospel and how we are called to live it out in the world, and provide space for worship leaders to get a jump start on planning for the season of Eastertide.

We will play, we will create, and we will reflect. Come prepared for an extraordinary time of learning and integration following the experience of the NEXT Church National Gathering.

Paul Vasile is a freelance church musician, consultant, and composer based in New York City. A multitalented musician and dynamic worship leader, he is committed to building, renewing, and re-shaping faith communities through music and liturgy.

MaryAnn McKibben Dana is a writer, speaker, coach, and “free-range pastor” living in Reston, VA. She was co-chair of NEXT Church for two years, and is a frequent speaker and workshop leader throughout the church.

LeAnn Hodges is the pastor of Oaklands Presbyterian Church in Laurel, MD.  She is passionate about congregational transformation, with a background in organizational development, family systems, leadership coaching, and improv.

Cultivated Ministry Seminar

Cultivated Ministry Seminar: Bearing Fruit through Theology, Accountability, Learning, and Storytelling

Facilitator: John Vest

How do we measure success in ministry when the traditional metrics of membership, attendance, and financial support seem out of touch with the realities of our post-Christendom contexts? Cultivated Ministry is a culture shift and approach to ministry that is committed to rigorous assessment, evaluation, and (re)design aimed at nurturing thoughtful expressions of God’s mission in the world. This post-Gathering seminar will delve deeply into each of the four interlocking components of Cultivated Ministry – Theology of Bearing Fruit, Mutual Accountability, Assessment for Learning, and Transformative Storytelling – to train participants to use these disciplines in their own contexts.

(Please note: there will be a workshop on Cultivated Ministry that will give an overview to these four components.)

John Vest is a ‘church hacker’ attempting to overcome the limitations of church as we know it. He is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Evangelism at Union Presbyterian Seminary and served on the task force that developed the Cultivated Ministry resource.

Forming Generous Disciples

Forming Generous Disciples

Facilitator: Tom Taylor, President and CEO of the Presbyterian Foundation
Keynoters: Dr. Lewis Galloway, Senior Pastor of Second Presbyterian Church Indianapolis, IN and Rev. Mindy Douglas, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Durham, NC

How can your church form generous people to support and engage God’s mission? Gain practical tools and theological underpinnings for a successful and sustainable approach to stewardship. Explore spiritual practices that can help the people in your pews become more generous. Learn to tell your church’s financial story in compelling ways. Conquer fears of talking about money.

In addition to the keynote presentations, there will also be presentations about:

  • “Forming Generous People” led by Rev. Ellie Johns-Kelly and Rev. David Loleng
  • “Generosity and Faith Legacy” led by Rev. Matthew Schramm and Mr. Stephen Keizer
  • “Pastor’s Role in Stewardship” led by Rev. Morgan Hay and Mr. Robert Hay, Jr.
  • “Sharing your Good News” led by Rev. Cecelia Armstrong and Mr. Olanda Carr

*This post-Gathering is $50 due to the generous support of the Presbyterian Foundation with support from the Lilly Endowment, Inc.*

Beyond the Mission Committee

Beyond the Mission Committee: Re-thinking how your church engages in local mission — FILLED

Facilitators: Kate Foster Connors & McKenna Lewellen

This seminar will blend time visiting different neighborhood ministries in Baltimore with classroom conversations and learning. Rooted in scripture and a theology of mission, participants will think critically about the local mission of their own congregations and new ways of engaging in their local community.

Participants will visit three Baltimore neighborhoods to learn about the congregations located there and how they are involved in the community. In each neighborhood, you will hear congregational leaders and their neighborhood partners share about how they originally became engaged in their communities, what some of their missteps were along the way, how they learned from those experiences, and how the partners sustain their ministries together.

The workshop also will include time at The Center in mid-town Baltimore, where participants will have a chance to hear from congregational leaders who are just beginning to form partnerships in their neighborhoods share about the challenges and opportunities when launching a new effort to become more engaged in your local community.

Kate Foster Connors is the director of The Center, a mission initiative of the Presbytery of Baltimore that equips and inspires congregations to engage in their neighborhoods. She is a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary, and has served churches in Memphis and Baltimore.

McKenna Lewellen is the program coordinator at The Center. She moved to Baltimore after graduating from the Boston University School of Theology, where she studied and wrote at the intersection of theology and trauma studies. She has worked in residence as a writer and theologian with faith communities in Memphis and Boston.

From Text to Sermon

From Text to Sermon: Staying Faithful in a Changed Landscape

Facilitator: Dave Davis

Do you find these days to be the most difficult in the seasons of your preaching life? Have the demands of ministry pushed you to the limit in your sermon preparation? Does the challenge of teaching biblical texts to listeners who seem increasingly unaware seem overwhelming? Do you find yourself wondering about the death of preaching as we know it moving forward?

The goal of this seminar is to provide thoughts on sermon process, to revisit theological convictions, and to explore the renewed urgency facing preachers all in service to the preachers encouragement and refreshment.

David has served as the senior pastor of the Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, NJ, since 2000. David earned his Ph.D. in Homiletics from Princeton Theological Seminary where he continues to teach as a visiting lecturer. He has published two sermon collections: A Kingdom You Can Taste and Lord, Teach us to Pray.  

The Color of Whiteness

The Color of Whiteness: Engaging White Privilege In and Through the Church

Facilitator: J.C. Austin

White people in the United States often struggle to engage the dynamics of race in our culture, and particularly the unique identity and privileges that white people hold in society. The Presbyterian Church (USA) is over 90% white in its membership, and so this problem is ubiquitous in our church and its congregations.

This post-Gathering seminar will create a positive and brave space in which to unpack why the issue of white privilege is such a struggle for white people and so important to address; provide theological and practical resources for overcoming that challenge and engaging the realities of white racial identity and privilege in the United States; and consider how Christianity in general and the PC(USA) in particular can and must play a positive role in this work.

As Founder and Executive Director of The Studio for Leadership Arts, J.C. Austin works with congregations and faith leaders all across the country to help them develop the innovative vision, spiritual resilience, and practical wisdom they need to engage in transformative ministry and mission. He served for eight years at Auburn Seminary as Vice President for Christian Leadership Formation, and ten years before that as Associate Pastor for Evangelism and Stewardship at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, both located in New York City. He earned his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cape Town in the field of theology and public life. In 1998-1999, he was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cape Town, studying the theological dimensions of South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission. He is a trained professional leadership coach, having completed Auburn Seminary’s highly-regarded Coach Training Program while on staff there. He is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Conversation Groups

Conversation groups are an opportunity to connect with other leaders serving in contexts similar to your own. Together, you will process what you are hearing and learning at the National Gathering and how it might relate to ministry in your context. You must sign up for a group at registration and the groups will be kept small for a more conversational feel. Sign up early! 

Conversation groups will meet at the following times during the National Gathering:

Monday from 9 – 10:30 am (pre-Gathering)
Tuesday during lunch
Wednesday at 8:30 – 9:20 am

The groups are as follows:

Conversation Groups


FILLED — Small Church: For those serving in small congregations with some of these markers — fewer than 75 in worship; less than 150 members; mostly PT staff. The conversation will center around the particular opportunities and challenges of this context.Andrew Plocher & Denise Anderson
FILLED — Large Congregations with Significant Capacity, Resources, and Staff: For those serving in church-based contexts with some of these variables — multi-pastor staff; at least 750 in membership; a budget of $1million+; 375+ in worship; 10+ FTE on staff.Tony Sundermeier & Susan DeWyngaert
FILLED — Lay Leadership: For church members, ruling elders, deacons and those who work with them to reflect on how to take ideas from the Gathering home. (Please note: lay leaders are welcome in any of the Conversation Groups.)Suzanne Davis, Joel Schultze & Helen Krone
FILLED — Spiritual Formation: For those working with any ages in education or formation ministry.Sarang Kang & Lakesha Bradshaw Easter
FILLED –Youth Ministry: For those committed to ministry with youth both in the church and community.Rocky Supinger
Seminarians: For those currently in seminary, exploring a call to ministry, and imagining what shape their work will take.Angela Williams & Slats Toole
FILLED — Challenging Demographics/Declining Economics: For those helping congregations rediscover God’s abundance and faithful ministry amidst challenging demographics and to share with one another where hope is blooming on this difficult journey.Felipe Martinez
Searching for a Call/Job: For those searching for positions in congregations and as well as ministry beyond the local church, both ordained and non-ordained.
Heather Shortlidge
FILLED — Ministry Outside the Congregational Context: For those who are in “non-traditional” ministries such as facilitators/consultants, artists and musicians, non-profits, etc. Chris Bennett
FILLED — Revitalization Ministry: For those in congregations much smaller than they once were and actively trying to find a vibrant and sustainable path forward.Andrew Kukla & Amy Starr-Redwin

People of Color Gathering

There will be scheduled opportunities for people of color to come together during the National Gathering. The first of those will be Sunday evening, February 25th at 9pm, and the second is on Tuesday at 6:30pm. At both times, the group will meet in Watertable C.

Questions about these ways to connect? Please email Jen James, our National Gathering coordinator.