Below, you will find titles and descriptions for the workshops being offered during the 2019 National Gathering. Workshop descriptions (and information about their leaders) follows the chart below. Click on a workshop name in the chart to head directly to its corresponding description.

This year, we’re offering two workshop blocks. When you register for the National Gathering, you’ll need to register for these two workshop opportunities as well.



Preaching and Politics
Patrick Johnson & Jill Duffield

The Prophetic Ministry of Justice
Amantha L. Barbee & Karen Hernández-Granzen

Threads of Life: Woven Together & Under Tension
JoAnne Sharp & Karen Fitz La Barge

The Gospel Mandate
Cindy Kohlmann

Sing the Circle Wider: Inclusive and Expansive Congregational Songs
Paul Vasile & Slats Toole

Intersectionality and Why Palestine Matters
Marietta Macy & Addie Domske

Biblical Storytelling in Worship and Sermon Prep
Timothy Coombs

Worth More than Seven Sons
Sara Dingman & Landon Whitsitt

What Is Your Story and Why Does It Matter to Cultural Identity, Justice, and Leadership?
Tali Hairston

Holy Disunity: How What Separates Us Can Also Save Us
Layton Williams

From Patronage to Participation: How One Downtown Church Wove Volunteers into the Fabric of the City
Heather Colletto & Chandler Stokes

Interwoven Generations: Our Shared Calling
Michele Hendrix & David Norse

Weaving Financial Generosity: Giving via Church AND Non-Profit
Adam Copeland

You’ve Got to Fight for Your Right to Party: Surviving and Thriving in Ministry
Glen Bell

The Step Before the First Step: Congregational Ministry, Community Organizing, and Transformational Change
Kathleen O’Toole, Becca Messman, & Heather Shortlidge

Now to Wow: Transforming Elders for Adaptive Leadership
Jesse Mabanglo & Eyde Mabanglo

Design Thinking 1.0: Design Thinking for Complex Problems
Victoria White & Ken Evers-Hood

Learning to Read, Study, Preach, and Teach from the Under(other)side
Debra Avery & Kamal Hassan

Inviting the Next Generation to Ministry
Matt Vaughan & Shelley Donaldson

Hearing the Stories of our Youth
Shelley Donaldson & Stephanie Fritz

Where You Go, I Will Go: Taking the Journey with LGBTQIA+ Youth
Jess Cook & Alex McNeill

What Do You Do With An Idea?
Dani Forbess, Kyle Turver, & Nikki Collins

Why We Don’t Love but Must Learn to Tell the Story of Race in the PC(USA)
William Yoo

Far From Home: Ministry With, By and For LGBTQIA People in a New Day
Brian Ellison

Nothing is Disposable
Rachel VanKirk Mathews

Woven Together: Living Faith Inter-Generationally
Julie Emery & Kathleen Owens

OFF-SITE: Beyond the Soup Kitchen: Building Transforming Communities
Killian Noe, Ruby Takushi, & Jason Dunbar

Workshop Block 1 – Monday

Preaching and Politics

Like Ruth and Naomi, we preachers sojourn through a complex moral and political landscape. On some Sundays, a faithful preacher must “go there.” Yet in a tense political climate, and in congregations that are politically diverse, how should the preacher navigate these intersections? This workshop will look at both the possibilities and limits of the pulpit and politics, as well as strategies to address political issues in ways that are both faithful and wise.

Patrick Johnson is pastor of First Presbyterian in Asheville, NC, and has served churches in VA, CA, and NJ. He is a graduate of Princeton Seminary with a PhD in Homiletics, and has taught a variety of courses in preaching and worship leadership.

Jill Duffield is the editor and publisher of The Presbyterian Outlook, and has served churches in North and South Carolina. She is a graduate of UNC Greensboro, Union Seminary in Richmond, VA and received her DMin from Austin Seminary in Austin, TX.

Threads of Life: Woven Together & Under Tension

As ministry leaders we are called to serve, to preach, to teach, to be in relationship. As partners in relationships we are called to love, spend time, grow, have families (children and/or pets). As humans we are called to be in relationship with others, to have friends, to be in community. Then there are the blessed electronics that have come into our lives. All woven together! How do we balance it all without burning out or failing at one or more of these things we are called to?

JoAnne Sharp serves the PCUSA as a Christian educator as well as a ruling elder. She brings a variety of gifts to her ministry, one being able to “herd cats”! She is also the administrator of the National Association of Presbyterian Clergywomen. Make sure you ask her about it.

Karen Fitz La Barge serves as the pastor of North Kent Presbyterian Church in Rockford, MI. Her resume covers pastoral calls of all types, as well as non-profit service. She is a gifted graphic design artist and owns the website Thoughtful Boldness.

Sing the Circle Wider: Inclusive and Expansive Congregational Songs — WORKSHOP FULL

There is a growing body of congregational song inviting us to name God and God’s people in new ways. The workshop will reflect on song’s potential to include, name, and invite all to worship. We’ll explore ways sacred song can expand our language and imagery, inspiring an ever-widening understanding of the Sacred, both through what we sing and how/where/when we sing. We’ll sing music from a variety of traditions and styles and brainstorm contexts in which to use them.

Paul Vasile is a freelance church musician, consultant, and composer committed to strengthening and renewing faith communities through music.

Slats Toole is a writer, preacher, and songleader, whose primary work centers around creating liturgical space where all are embraced for all of who they are. They are a member of the NEXT Church Advisory Team and an Ambassador for the Hymn Society.

Biblical Storytelling in Worship and Sermon Prep

Biblical storytelling is the spiritual discipline that entails the lively interpretation, expression, and animation of a biblical text that is internalized or learned by heart and then is “remembranced,” embodied, breathed, voiced as a sacred event to an audience/congregation. Participants will experience the power of biblical storytelling, explore the oral nature of the Bible, consider its implications on the worship event and sermon preparation, and begin to learn an upcoming lectionary story.

Tim Coombs is a pastor and storyteller. He is the president of the Network of Biblical Storytellers and co-pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Scotia, NY. Tim earned his D.Min in Biblical Storytelling in Digital Culture in 2006 and has taught globally.

What is Your Story and Why Does it Matter to Cultural Identity, Justice, and Leadership?

This workshop is designed to equip and encourage participants to know how their story, how that story is framed and filters our experiences, and what we can do to be agents of reconciliation. Workshop participants should expect to engage this as a dynamic conversation where the questions drive the discussion. We call this “urban roots.”

Tali Hairston is Senior Advisor for Community Engagement at the Seattle Presbytery and a keynote speaker at the National Gathering.

From Patronage to Participation: How One Downtown Church Wove Volunteers into the Fabric of the City

“Want real change? Give us your hours, not your dollars.” That’s what non-profits told Westminster after we’d donated $1+ million over 10 years. Challenged (and nervous), we shifted our missional identity from patronage to participation, resolving to actually show up. Then a bigger dream took hold: could we become a catalyst for linking the entire city to serve one another? We created ServeGR.com to invite not just the church, but the whole city, to weave their lives into their communities.

Heather Colletto is Director of Communication and Mission at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids, MI. She has 10+ years of communications experience with non-profit organizations in Slovakia, Thailand, and Michigan.

Chandler Stokes was senior pastor at Westminster for ten years, leading the congregation through a period of discernment from patronage to participation. Ordained for 35 years, he has previously served congregations in northern California.

Weaving Financial Generosity: Giving via Church AND Non-Profit

A tension exists in most churches when it comes to stewardship. If pressed, we’d probably admit that all our members’ charitable giving — to the church and to secular non-profits — goes to further God’s work in the world. And yet, the vast majority of church talk around money highlights only giving to the church. How might we embrace the importance of giving beyond the church? Is it wise to consider what some have called, “the modern tithe,” or giving 5% to the church and 5% to charity?

Adam Copeland is on the faculty at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He directs the Center for Stewardship Leaders, regularly teaches courses on stewardship, and is editor of “Beyond the Offering Plate: A Holistic Approach to Stewardship.”

The Step Before the First Step: Congregational Ministry, Community Organizing, and Transformational Change — WORKSHOP FULL

Ever get stuck trying to move a congregation to a new place? Have you ever embarked on significant changes at church only to have those best laid plans thwarted? Eager to learn how to motivate people in the pews to move in a different direction, with the hopes of seeking God’s kingdom? If this is you, join us for an experiential workshop that will introduce principles and practices of broad-based community organizing that have been transforming congregations and communities throughout the country. In our time together, we’ll share stories of communities in the midst of transformation, explore the “whys” that motivate you and your congregation to act, and help unearth the interests in your life and community that may make you want to become one of God’s holy troublemakers.

Kathleen O’Toole is a community organizer with four decades of experience training and working with church leaders around social change and public life. She is a published poet and consultant to NEXT Church via Metro IAF.

Heather Shortlidge is the associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Annapolis. She has been working with other local clergy to build an IAF chapter in Anne Arundel County as a leader on this newly forming organization’s Strategy Team.

Becca Messman is co-pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Herndon, VA, where she co-founded of “Lunch for the Soul,” a lunch /worship with recent immigrants & day laborers. She is on the executive team of VOICE, an IAF organization in Northern Virginia.

Design Thinking 1.0: Design Thinking for Complex Problems — WORKSHOP FULL

Innovation and design thinking are buzzwords gaining lots of traction in our culture. What do they mean for the church? Design thinking is about identifying and working within given constraints to arrive at transformative and generative solutions. Explore design thinking through a gamified experience to address complex problems and social ills. Participants will walk away with practical and actionable design tools, like idea generation and impact measurement, for implementation in their context.

Victoria Atkinson White is the Managing Director of Grants at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity where she encourages traditioned innovation among Christian institutions and their leaders.

Ken Evers-Hood is the pastor of Tualatin Presbyterian Church and author of “The Irrational Jesus” and the forthcoming “The Irrational David.”

Inviting the Next Generation to Ministry

Are there ways your congregation can inspire young people towards vocational ministry? Ask young people what they want to do, and many will tell you they want to be a teacher, lawyer, engineer, or a doctor. More than ever, ministry is a second career choice. In this workshop, we’ll share several case studies of young people who were called to ministry. We’ll also discuss how relevant youth ministry addresses the behavior patterns, statistics, and context of the newest “iGen / Gen Z” generation.

Matt Vaughan leads a nonprofit training/consulting group, Youth Ministry Institute Midwest. He served four PCUSA congregations in youth ministry over 23 years. Seventeen of Matt’s former students have responded to a call to ministry by going to seminary!

Shelley Donaldson is the Associate Pastor for Ministry with Youth & Missional Engagement at First Presbyterian Stamford, CT, and has over 15 years experience working with young people in various settings. She serves as one of two co-moderators for the Presbyterian Youth Workers Association.

Where You Go, I Will Go: Taking the Journey with LGBTQIA+ Youth

When we baptize children into our community, we promise to nurture them in the faith and support them as they grow. As a church, the promises we make when we baptize someone carry a commitment to take the journey with young people as they mature in their faith. This journey requires resilience, vulnerability, and honesty with any youth, and LGBTQIA+ youth in particular. This workshop addresses practical ways individuals and congregations can support LGBTQIA+ youth on their journey.

Jess Cook is the programs and communications manager for More Light Presbyterians, creating resources for churches and individuals to live more fully into welcoming LGBTQIA+ folks. They have over 7 years experience working with LGBTQIA+ youth.

Alex McNeill is the executive director of More Light Presbyterians. A trained professional coach through the International Coaching Federation, he brings a coaching approach to his work with individuals and congregations.

Why We Don’t Love but Must Learn to Tell the Story of Race in the PC(USA)

Why did so many seemingly good white Presbyterians support slavery and oppose the civil rights movement? How did other Presbyterians advance the cause of racial justice? “Why We Don’t Love but Must Learn to Tell the Story of Race in the PC(USA): Working Toward a More Precise Understanding of our Past Sins and a More Honest Ministry of Racial Justice in our Congregations Today” presents a precise yet accessible account of our history to help us better understand the legacies of prejudice, privilege, and complicity as well as the struggles for liberation, integration, and allyship so that we can more honestly and effectively work with others in our local churches and communities.

William Yoo is a historian at Columbia Seminary who teaches and writes about the powerful and painful stories of American Christians across race and ethnicity. His current research project is on racism and racial justice in Presbyterian history.

Nothing is Disposable

According to the Law of Conservation of Mass, everything we’re consuming is made from elements that already exist on the Earth. All of it will continue to exist in different forms, impacting creation, once we are done with it. How can Christians value material like Ruth gleaning wheat from the fields? This workshop will equip attendees with a scientific understanding of matter, a Biblical perspective on materialism, and practical ways their church and themselves can value all we consume.

Rachel VanKirk Mathews has an electrical engineering degree and an MDiv from Columbia Seminary where she led community garden projects. She has since worked on an organic farm and currently serves as associate pastor of Maxwell Street Presbyterian in Lexington, KY.

OFF-SITE Beyond the Soup Kitchen: Building Transforming Communities

Learn about the core commitments of Seattle-based programs Recovery Cafe, Jean Kim Foundation, and Shower to the People, which provide radical hospitality to individuals suffering from homelessness, addiction, and mental health challenges. The workshop leaders will facilitate engaging conversation centered on how faith communities can move away from reinforcing power differentials toward mutually liberating, transforming relationships with those suffering on the margins.

This workshop will take place off-site at Recovery Cafe. There will be a small transportation fee for participants to use shared Uber/Lyft rides.

Killian Noe is a co-founder of Recovery Cafe in Seattle and the Recovery Cafe Network, which supports non-profits and churches in replication of Recovery Cafe’s model. She is a pastor, an author and is passionate about intentional community models.

Ruby Takushi is a co-founder of Recovery Cafe in Seattle and serves as its Program Director. She is also a psychologist and professor.

Jason Dunbar passionately serves and advocates for the homeless. He is the executive director of the Jean Kim Foundation which helps homeless go to school. He is also part of a team that has provided 16,000+ free showers to the homeless from a 5th wheel RV.

Workshop Block 2 – Tuesday

The Prophetic Ministry of Justice — WORKSHOP FULL

How do we balance our lives as Christians? Micah 6:8 challenges us to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before the Lord. We will have an interactive conversation about social justice work, navigating the congregation, the community, and local politics. Protests, political unrest, racial divide, and religious discord, call us to be different in the 21st century. The workshop leaders will share their experience in social justice work in their congregation, community, and beyond.

Amantha Barbee is pastor of Statesville Avenue Presbyterian Church and chair of the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice. She stood between protesters and police with other interfaith clergy when Keith Scott was killed by police in 2016. She is a recipient of the Charlotte City Center Partners Special Achievement Award.

Karen Hernández-Granzen is pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church. an urban, intercultural, More Light congregation. She is co-chair of the Trenton Arts Music Culture Committee, Princeton Civil Rights Committee. Presbyterian Intercultural Network (PIN), Commissioner for the 50th World Council of Churches in Zimbabwe.

The Gospel Mandate

This workshop will examine the Gospel mandate of discipleship and justice, using the next PCUSA One Church One Book initiative book as its framework. What is happening in your neighborhood? Is God in the neighborhood or just in the church? What happens when we truly love our neighbors as ourselves?

Cindy Kohlmann was ordained in 1999 and has served two churches as solo pastor. She is the presbytery leader for the Presbyteries of Boston and Northern New England. Along with Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, Cindy was elected co-moderator of the 223rd General Assembly.

Intersectionality and Why Palestine Matters

This workshop explores intersectionality and our struggle for all human rights, using the book “Why Palestine Matters,” which answers the question of why intersectionality matters. Seemingly separate oppressed communities face common struggles. Demands for justice and rights-based solutions unite the many against the very few who benefit from empire. Too often, these struggles devolve into single-issue campaigns. Intersectionality links resistance movements opposing empire.

Addie Domske studied international social work and is the Director of Youth Formation at St. Paul & the Redeemer on Chicago’s southside. She serves nationally on the theology committee for Friends of Sabeel North America and locally as her cat’s personal masseuse.

Marietta Macy studied theatre and currently serves as Co-Moderator of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the PC(USA). She also serves First Presbyterian Church of Columbus, IN as the Director of Children’s, Youth, and Young Adult Ministries.

Worth More than Seven Sons

“We live in an era of intense conflict & massive institutional failures, a time of painful endings & of hopeful beginnings… something is shifting & dying, while something else wants to be born.” (Victor Havel) Using the change management method Theory U, we’ll explore the leadership capacities and movements essential to ushering complex church systems as they let go of death and emerge into a future of energy and meaning. Like Ruth and Naomi, once we cross this threshold, nothing remains the same.

Sara Dingman serves as Executive of the Synod of Lincoln Trails. Before that she was an interim executive presbyter and before that she served churches in the U.S. and Scotland. Sara is a partner, auntie, traveler, explorer, gardener and lover of all dogs.

Landon Whitsitt serves as Executive of the Synod of Mid-America. He is a husband, dad, dog owner, runner, writer, musician, thinker, and speaker. He was also once the GA Vice Moderator back when they still had those sorts of things.

Holy Disunity: How What Separates Us Can Also Save Us

What if we are not called to create unity, but rather to be in authentic relationship even in disunity? From this framing, hard realities like doubt, argument, protest, discomfort, failure, and even separation have unexpected gifts to offer us: discovery, dialogue, perspective, truth, grace, and growth. This workshop will examine 12 of these challenges and their gifts through the lens of biblical stories, with deeper group discussion of 1 or 2 topics via story-sharing and question-asking.

Layton Williams is an ordained teaching elder based in Charleston, SC, and serves on staff at Sojourners – a Christian social justice publication and nonprofit in DC. She writes and works at the intersections of faith, justice, relationship, and story.

Interwoven Generations: Our Shared Calling

Aging is a powerful, natural lifelong process; it connects us and it affects us. Our aging members are diverse, faithful, and are looking to transform the world by the power of the Holy Spirit through intergenerational ministries. But it can be difficult to balance their needs for pastoral care, varying abilities, being intentionally intergenerational, and missionally focused. This co-led workshop by Michele and David will address the challenges, opportunities, and some ways forward.

Michele Hendrix is President of Presbyterian Older Adult Ministries Network (POAMN), a Deacon, Stephen Leader, Caregiver Specialist, Speaker and Trainer with expertise in Older Adult Ministry and Caregiving. She focuses on intergenerational, and Interfaith ministry.

David Norse (he/him/his) is a Queer millennial who solo Pastors Maryland Presbyterian, a community of “badass progressive Grandmas and everyone’s favorite aunt and uncle.” A TEDxPhilly speaker in 2015, he also served at Broad Street Ministry for 4 years.

You’ve Got to Fight for Your Right to Party: Surviving and Thriving in Ministry

Life is sometimes messy and unpredictable. Our faith demands personal vulnerability – and sacrifice. Yet God’s promises are revealed through these experiences.

We face all kinds of obstacles and challenges in ministry. Clarity, confession and resilience are necessary disciplines.

This workshop will encourage us to
persist in faithful, life-giving ministry,
renounce disappointment and bitterness,
and lean into joy through all the twists and turns.

Glen Bell has been a part of churches small and large, metropolitan and rural. He serves in leadership with NEXT Church, Presbyterian Outlook, and Louisville Seminary. He is pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Sarasota, Florida.

NOW TO WOW: Transforming Elders for Adaptive Leadership — WORKSHOP FULL

Transformational work requires agile, adaptive leadership – the most effective agents of adaptive change for our congregations are the called, ordained, and ‘woven together’ officers of our churches! This workshop will give elders the tools to assess the overall health of their leadership – including strategies to cultivate their ‘woven’ sense of call to Christ’s purposes in their community and to curtail the very real and often overlooked challenges to the session’s essential role in the church.

Jesse G. Mabanglo is a transitional pastor at Lake City Presbyterian Church, an ICF trained coach, and moderator of Seattle Presbytery. Jesse is passionate about leadership development and helping congregations navigate through seasons of change.

Eyde Mabanglo is an ordained PC(USA) pastor and ICF trained leadership coach. She is a transitional pastor and is currently serving in a 200-member congregation. Eyde is passionate about helping Christian leaders serve God’s missional purposes.

Learning to Read, Study, Preach and Teach From the Under(Other)Side

This workshop will share an approach to bible study and preaching that helped our congregations learn to read scripture through the eyes and lives of those who have been other-ized. The workshop will include resources and suggestions about contextual adaptation that emerged from our experience. Participants will have a chance to practice the methodology.

Debra Avery is a New Worshipping Community Organizer for Justice House in Oakland, California, an activist, and communication consultant.

Kamal Hassan is the pastor of Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church in Richmond, California, a Co-spiritual Director of OneLife Institute in Oakland, California, and a community activist.

Hearing the Stories of our Youth

Our youth have stories of resiliency, hope, and faith to share with us. How do we make space to hear these stories? Are we open to the different ways youth communicate? How can we move from the traditional “youth Sunday” to having our youth a part of the regular rhythm of worship and church life? Expect to explore these questions and come away with new approaches for your context. This workshop is sponsored by the Presbyterian Youth Workers Association.

Shelley Donaldson is the Associate Pastor for Ministry with Youth & Missional Engagement at First Presbyterian Stamford, CT, and has over 15 years experience working with young people in various settings. She serves as one of two co-moderators for the Presbyterian Youth Workers Association.

Stephanie Fritz is the associate coordinator for faith formation at the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

What Do You Do With An Idea? — WORKSHOP FULL

The leadership of Coastland Commons will host a conversation about how they moved from a question to a community gathering. Their story will be put in conversation with Nikki Collins, director of 1001 New Worshipping Communities. These conversation partners will weave together personal experience, failed experiments, and concrete steps that the local church can take to invest in the 1001 movement.

Dani Forbess is the pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church. She serves a multi-age congregation while also co-leading a New Worshipping Community in the PC USA called Coastland Commons.

Kyle Turver is the worship leader of Bethany Presbyterian Church. He has been co-leading the New Worshipping Community called Coastland Commons. Coastland Commons was born five years ago when he started dreaming about the impact of creativity.

Nikki Collins is the coordinator of 1001 New Worshiping Communities of the PC(USA). Our team works to equip leaders, presbyteries, and partner congregations of over 450 new communities, a number that grows daily!.

Far From Home: Ministry With, By and For LGBTQIA People in a New Day

“Far From Home” was a 2004 booklet published by the Covenant Network, subtitled “Tales of Presbyterian Exiles.” Now, 15 years later, many of those “exiles” could openly serve the church or be married in it. This conversational workshop seeks to explain – and understand – where and how there is more work to do in serving and calling forth gifts of LGBTQIA people. We’ll think together about the next season of ministry with an eye toward evangelism, discipleship and justice.

Brian Ellison has served since 2012 as executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians (www.covnetpres.org), for which he preaches and teaches around the country. He has also been a pastor, a stated clerk, and a public radio journalist.

Woven Together: Living Faith Inter-Generationally

In a world where generations are often separated out, the story of Ruth and Naomi calls to us. Two faithful people, from different generations/backgrounds, walking together in faith. Church is a place where multiple generations gather, but do we truly see one another? Do we know each other, learn from each other? Do we share our stories of God’s grace and love across generations? Together we will explore the gifts of worshiping, learning, and serving as an inter-generational church.

Julie Emery is pastor of the Westminster Church in West Hartford, CT. She spends much of her free time at hockey rinks, cheering on one of her two sons or her husband. She’s also been known to hike, swim, knit, play the ukelele, and drink good beer.

Kathleen Owens is the half-time Solo Pastor at First Presbyterian in Oregon, WI, a thriving, energetic congregation that averages 50 people in Worship on a Sunday. Kathleen enjoys helping smaller churches to focus on their gifts and use them well.

Questions? Email Jen James, our National Gathering coordinator.