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
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
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
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!
Michael Harper is the director for Presbyterian Youth Workers’ Association. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky.
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.