It is your first few years of ministry and you want to do it all, and yet you are already starting to feel the inevitable impending burn-out which was warned to you. You may have begun with high energy and lots of dreams, but how do you build a sustainable ministry which is not solely dependent on you alone? This track will provide the tools for those brand new to ministry in building a support system, a volunteer base, and resources in dealing with every day ministry stuff.
Rev. Dr. Jason Brian Santos is an ordained teaching elder in the PCUSA and holds a Ph.D. in practical theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is the author of A Community Called Taizé A Story of Prayer, Worship and Reconciliation (IVP, 2008) and Sustaining the Pilgrimage (IVP Academic, forthcoming). While a doctoral student at Princeton Seminary he mentored seminary students on youth ministry and Christian education, taught youth ministry courses, and spoke regularly to young people, youth workers, and pastors across the country. He was awarded the Timothy Scholar Fellowship for Research of Youth & Culture. Jason has worked in hands-on ministry at churches in London, Chicago, and Bonn, Germany. In his spare time, he plays and designs board games.
Volunteers are a critical resource in our congregations. Many begin their journey with helping just once and become lifelong supporters of children, youth, and family programming. Many volunteers are willing to walk with youth and yet may feel they don’t have the necessary skills. This track will be focused on recognizing and building the gifts and skills of volunteers while providing resources to build on the relational ministry that is important to our children, youth, and their families.
Tiger McLuen is the Executive Director of Youth Ministry Consultants. Tiger has a unique perspective on leadership as he has been full-time in the church, was an instructor of youth ministry at two seminaries, led Youth Leadership for 29 years, and now coaches and trains leaders, parents and churches. Along the way, he has remained an active volunteer in a variety of roles in youth ministry. He speaks to churches and young people across the country and is also the author of a couple of book and some articles – but mostly he’s a youth leader who loves being in a room full of people who care about the next generation. Tiger and Sue have been married for 46 years and have four grown children and a herd of grandkids. When Tiger isn’t speaking or coaching—you can find him working around the house, riding his motorcycle, boating/skiing or sneaking out to a matinee movie.
Congregations are full of wonderful traditions. This sometimes leads people to think that we don’t need to change, and that everything is great the way it is. Leadership can sometimes be set in their ways; how will be begin these difficult conversations? This track will name the challenges, provide resources for navigating the conflicts, and give opportunity to create a plan for change.
Rev. Dr. Aqueelah Ligonde is an enthusiastic speaker and leader with a passion for today’s generation of youth and women. She is a lover of Jesus and stories. In 2011, she was ordained in the Presbyterian Church USA and became a member of the Presbytery of New York City. Aqueelah has worked with various organizations, institutions, and programs such as: The Institute for Youth Ministry at Princeton Seminary, Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, Fuller Youth Institute, Urban Youth Workers Institute, Youth Specialties, Holmes Presbyterian Camp, PCUSA Young Adult Volunteer Program, and GenOn/Logos Ministries name a few. For over a decade, Aqueelah served as the Associate Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, NY. She is currently the Interim Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Far Rockaway and a Coach and Consultant with Ministry Architects and Ministry Incubators, both organizations are designed to champion congregations and leaders to help them live into their ministry full ministry potential. Aqueelah received a Master of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry and a Certificate in Black Church Studies from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She lives in Long Island with her wonderful husband.
The world separates people into groups, and many are stigmatized, including those with mental illness. Resources are not readily available in places who need them the most. Loving our neighbor includes having conversations, providing resources, training, and walking with people in their journey. This track will provide usable definitions, tools, and resources for volunteers and paid leaders to take back to their congregations and organizations for immediate use.Luther Seminary and the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies. Joy’s background in youth and family ministry includes eight years in congregations, and as the Program Director at Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry. Joy has worked as an outpatient chemical dependency counselor in a dual diagnosis program for adolescents. Currently, she is working as the grant program consultant for the youth ministry and mental health initiative with the Northeastern Minnesota Synod ELCA, is an Adult Mental Health First Aid Instructor, and a full-time parent. She enjoys opportunities to speak, teach and be a resource to congregations.
Rev. Rolf Jacobson, Professor of Old Testament and the Alvin N. Rogness Chair of Scripture, Theology, and Ministry, joined the Luther Seminary faculty in 2003. Prior to that, he served on the faculty of Augsburg University and as Associate Pastor of Como Park Lutheran Church (St. Paul, Minnesota). Known for his humor and faithful biblical interpretation, Jacobson is an in demand preacher and teacher. With Craig Koester, he developed and supports the Narrative Lectionary. He enjoys collaborating with other teachers and pastors. His collaborative projects include The Book of Psalms, Invitation to the Psalms , Crazy Talk: A Not-So-Stuffy Dictionary of Theological Terms, and Crazy Book: A Not-So-Stuffy Dictionary of Biblical Terms. He is also the author of The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to the Old Testament: Israel’s In-Your-Face, Holy God. His scholarly interests include the Psalms, prophets, biblical theology, biblical narrative, and preaching the Old Testament. His voice can be heard on two weekly preaching podcasts, Sermon Brainwave and The Narrative Lectionary, as well as singing the high lonesome with a Lutheran bluegrass band, “The Fleshpots of Egypt.” A survivor of childhood cancer, he is a double, above-the-knee amputee, who generally wears a bicycle and a smile. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with his beloved wife Amy, their children Ingrid and Gunnar, and a cat who thinks he is a dog. He is a loyal friend, lifelong sufferer of Minnesota sports, and committed board-game geek. Jacobson earned a B.A. from the University of St. Thomas, an M.Div. from Luther Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Many congregations rely on classroom models for teaching children. Today’s children learn in a variety of ways and often want to participate in their learning through diverse avenues. Parents are busy with many activities and balancing work and home. This track will provide guidance to children’s ministry leaders who want to walk with families in their journey and be cheerleaders in their parenting, while encouraging them to be the primary spiritual teacher for their child.
Dave Csinos is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He also serves as founder and president of Faith Forward, an ecumenical organization for innovation in ministry with children and youth. Dave writes widely about faith formation, children’s ministry, youth ministry, and culture, and his books include Children’s Ministry that Fits, Children’s Ministry in the Way of Jesus (with Ivy Beckwith), Faith Forward (with Melvin Bray) and Faith Forward, Volume 2 (with Melvin Bray). Dave holds a Ph. D. in practical theology from University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto (through the Toronto School of Theology), as well as degrees from Wilfrid Laurier University, McMaster University, and Union Presbyterian Seminary.
The demands of ministry in today’s world are ever changing. Many children and youth leaders are expected to provide programming in person and online and yet have very little training utilizing current technologies. Just as one platform becomes comfortable, our families are using a new one. This track will assist leaders in looking at technology as an asset in our ministry that can be used to connect with those in our buildings and broader communities, while providing acceptance and inclusive formats for all forms of ministry.
Sophia Agtarap serves as director of communications at Vanderbilt Divinity School, a progressive, ecumenical, interdenominational school in Nashville, Tenn. after having worked at the University of Washington in advising and recruitment and retention, and most recently The United Methodist Church's Communications Agency. Her graduate studies include Communication and Digital Media (University of Washington) and Theology (Seattle Pacific Seminary). A transplant from Seattle (via Southern California and Iowa), she lives with her spouse, newborn, and three dogs. She enjoys food and travel, and even more so when they are done in tandem.
Sophia is a deaconess in The United Methodist Church--a lay order whose call is to engage the world through a full-time vocation in ministries of love, justice, and service. She provides leadership for Moral Movement Tennessee, a grassroots organization building a multiracial, intergenerational, interfaith, anti-poverty, pro-justice moral movement in Tennessee, as well as The United Methodist Women.