Practicing Inclusivity: Engaging Difference

The world so often separates and divides people based on their differences, rather than see diversity as a strength to be nurtured and celebrated. Loving our neighbor means finding ways to welcome, strengthen, and explore difference, while at the same time fighting against injustice, privilege, and racism. This track will name obstacles and opportunities for moving the church and your ministry toward being more inclusive, offer theological and practical resources for practicing inclusivity and share stories of creative ways God’s people are making a difference.

Track Leaders: David Scherer (AGAPE*) and Joe Davis

Choose this track if you are pulled toward leading ministries of justice and reconciliation.

Title Description Takeaway Presenter
No Purpling... (But God is Purpling All the Time)* Ever heard the phrase, “Girls are pink, boys are blue… no purple-ing!” in youth ministry? Ever thought about how that phrase might make environments unsafe for some of God’s children? To love people well means to be deeply intentional about language, Bible teachings, and behavior in church. This workshop will talk about why and how God loves LGBTQ folks through a lens of "queer theology." This hope of this workshop is not only to cultivate safe environments for all of God's children, but to transform unjust structures of society. Participants will gain a basic understanding of the concept of "queering" and how it applies to the lived reality of a Christian life and new ways to read and engage with Scripture. Participants will also have the opportunity to re-think youth ministry in light of the abundant diversity of gender, romantic, and sexual identities. Ross Murray, Greg Fedio, & Logan Rimel
Running in Sprinklers: Watercolor Empathy* This workshop will return play and creativity to Baptism. It will do so by pursuing authentic relationships and diversity with others who share in the waters of Baptism by cultivating imagination through watercolor painting. (Watercolor supplies provided.) Participants will learn an art process for exploring interpersonal differences and practice awareness of inclusivity and get tools to lead others in imaginative empathy and the creative process. Joseph Castañeda Carrera
Make a Joyful Noise! Music Ministry for Special Needs Children and Adults God loves all people, yet we do not always know how to engage all people in meaningful ministry. This workshop will address how to create a special needs music ministry based on Katy's experience at Clairemont Lutheran Church. Participants will receive a step-by-step guide for creating a special needs music program at their home church, experience a live demonstration, and have the opportunity to ask the Rise & Shine singers questions. Katherine Lundeen
Theology of Radical Welcome How we talk about God in our heads/hearts and to others affects how we welcome other beings in God’s creation. Rooting God-talk (theology) in the gift of creation and the image of God present in every person, this workshop will explore concrete strategies and spiritual practices to welcome strangers as neighbors. Participants will take away concrete strategies and spiritual practices as well as insight on their own theologies. Rev. Dr. Colleen Windham-Hughes
Love a Little Louder: Celebrating LGBTQ+ Youth with Preaching, Policies, and Practices Many of our congregations say that all are welcome, but what does that really look like? This workshop will talk about the importance of bold, joyful, and faith-filled affirmation of LGBTQ+ young people, the power welcome has to transform congregations, and practical tools needed to make it happen. The way congregations live out their welcome of LGBTQ+ young people can save lives and transform communities. Participants will learn about how and why LGBTQ+ youth are particularly vulnerable members of our congregations and our communities and what that means for leaders in the Church. LGBTQ+ young people face devastating rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide, but the data overwhelmingly shows that support and affirmation greatly reduces those risks. Participants will learn about what it looks like to be boldly and joyfully affirming, and they will walk away with tangible next steps to take in their own settings. Jamie Bruesehoff
From Servant to Guest; From Guest to Friend; From Friend to Family Whether through service projects, neighborhood programs, mission trips, or long-term community relationships, doing youth ministry in cross-cultural settings is necessary, holy work. This workshop will explore the theology, stance, and practices for faithful, engaging ministry when cultures and communities meet. We’ll look at the pitfalls, dangers, and habits to avoid. Our conversation will also include considerations of privilege, wealth, and dominant culture. Your experiences, wisdom, and questions are needed in this conversation! Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of race, culture, and socio-economics in relation to cross-cultural youth ministry, explore a theological framework and ministry practices designed to strengthen their youth ministry, and learn a practical step-by-step method for assessing and moving forward in their cross-cultural youth ministry work. Jason Reed
Love Big: The Power of Revolutionary Relationships to Heal the World To love big is to love ourselves deeply and passionately, to love others across the lines set up to divide us, and to seek out revolutionary relationships that inspire healing and transformation. When we love big, our minds are roused, our hearts are repaired, our bodies are reformed, and our souls are restored Participants will explore: Deepening your love for yourself; Engaging others from different backgrounds; How love leads us to personal, communal, and societal healing and transformation; and Skills to enrich and expand your relationships and your engagement in issues of injustice. Rozella Haydée White
Star Power Star Power is an engaging game about resources, how they are distributed, and how they are controlled. Participants engage this interactive exercise both as individuals and in teams as they strive to achieve the most points through rounds of trading, governed by a basic set of rules. Participants will take a way a more developed understanding of systems that control, allocate, and dominate resources and their role (as well as the role of others) in those systems. Time will be spent processing the impact of systems on the lives of people, and how we work to dismantle that impact to make our ministries more accessible to all of God's children. C.J. Clark
Youth Ministry with and to Young People Living in Poverty
The first half of this workshop will be led by young leader who grew up in a community of poverty while active in a church, sharing stories and a Q&A about the role of faith and the church (and its youth ministry) in this context. The second half of this workshop will be led by a pastor/youth worker who has significant experience serving with young people in communities of poverty. Participants will leave with new lenses with which to see how inequity affects youth ministry and practical steps they can take toward equity in whatever context they serve. Matt Keadle
An Interview in Reverse This is workshop is a facilitated conversation with Phil Hirsch, the Executive Director of Domestic Mission for the ELCA. Here participants will have the opportunity to share their experiences, hopes, fears, struggles, and holy encounters around diversity and inclusion in youth ministry, the church, and their communities. Not only will Phil hear about first-hand ministry experiences, but participants will also hear from their colleagues in ministry, as they grapple with the holy mystery of ministry in a changing world. Participants will leave having had a platform to share their particular experiences and perspectives of ministry in the ELCA and discover how the Spirit is at work in our midst. Phil Hirsch
Exploration of Leadership Skills through a Native Lens The time together will result in a profound experience as participants walk together in the exploration of intersections of identity, personal narratives and faith with a Native Lakota Sioux perspective. Participants will be equipped to see their faith life in a new light, to go out in the world prepared to live, practice and be present within the communities they are called to serve, finding new resources to do this. Kelly Sherman-Conroy
La Frontera: Story, Art and Action In a region where fear-mongering has exploited people’s ability to survive and thrive, we are confronted with not only the borders of our lands but also the borders of our hearts and actions. Come explore La Frontera through personal stories, art, and action. Participants will take away a creative framework to dwell in people’s narratives and ways to act for justice no matter their location.  Pastor Manuel Retamoza & Sister Michelle Walka

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