THE INSTITUTE FOR YOUTH MINISTRY

October 4-5, 2018
Princeton, NJ

For the last 5 years the Confirmation Project research team has been studying confirmation and equivalent practices within the United States. The findings provide a hopeful exposé regarding the faith of youth who participate in confirmation and equivalent ministries. The significance of parents, mentors, camp, strong leadership, and creative curricular design stood out among our findings. Join us to reflect on these findings as we imagine their implications for making disciples of Jesus Christ. In addition to the US findings, we will be hosting Friedrich Schweitzer, the leader of the European study on confirmation, for a vibrant conversation comparing European and American youth.

About the Confirmation Conference

The Confirmation Conference will gather youth ministers and volunteers around the findings of three years of research on best practices for Confirmation in churches. This conference is the culminating event of the research and will host a book launch from the Confirmation Project: a five-year grant through the Lilly Endowment, Inc. that studied the practices of five denominations in North America (the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church in the USA, and the United Methodist Church). The Confirmation Project points to how ministry leaders can help young Christians grow as disciples of Christ.

The Confirmation Conference will draw together experts and practitioners from the project’s research team. Participants will receive a copy of the book “Cultivating Teen Faith: Insights from the Confirmation Project”

Leaders

Richard Osmer is the Ralph B. and Helen S. Ashenfelter professor of mission and evangelism (emeritus) at Princeton Theological Seminary. His current interests include church planting and revitalization. At present, he is working on two books: one on Evangelism in dialogue with Karl Barth and another on children’s fantasy literature as a way of communicating the gospel. He is the co-director of the Confirmation Project, a national study of confirmation in five denominations.


Katherine M. Douglass co-directs The Confirmation Project (national study on confirmation). She is Assistant Professor of Educational Ministry and Practical Theology at Seattle Pacific University. Her research focuses on the role of the arts in faith formation as well as rites of passage. Katie served as a pastor at the American Protestant Church: An International Community in Bonn, Germany. Her current passions include issues of equity in academic research and learning communities.


Friedrich Schweitzer is professor of practical theology and religious education at the University of Tuebingen, Germany. He is the leader of the European studies on confirmation work (2006-2018) as well as author or editor of the 11 volumes from this major confirmation project conducted in nine different countries. In 2017, Dr. Schweitzer was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Theology, Helsinki, Finland.


Reggie Blount is assistant professor of formation, youth and culture at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He teaches in the areas of youth ministry, Christian education and congregational leadership. He serves further serves the seminary as Co-Executive Director of the Garrett-Evanston Freedom School Program, Program Director of the Garrett Young Adult Initiative, and Coordinator for the DMin in Strategic Leadership in Black Congregations. He is also Pastor of Arnett Chapel A.M.E. Church in Chicago, IL. He speaks and teaches nationally and internationally helping faith communities envision new and creative ways to minister to, with and on behalf of young people. Dr. Blount is a contributor in “Making God Real for a Next Generation: Ministry with Millennials Born from 1982 to 1999” (Discipleship Resources, 2003) and “Educating For Redemptive Community” (Wipf & Stock, 2015).


Lisa Kimball is the associate dean of lifelong learning and professor of Christian formation and congregational leadership at Virginia Theological Seminary. Her research, teaching, and writing focus on faith transmission in a hyper-connected digital age and how religious pluralism and declining religious affiliation are opportunities for re-imagining being church. She is currently Project Director of Baptized for Life: An Episcopal Discipleship Initiative, using the pattern of the ancient catechumenate to form courageous Christian lives of meaning and purpose. Committed to deep listening in diverse cultural contexts, Lisa prioritizes collaboration, working closely with local congregations, ecumenical bodies, and being outdoors whenever possible.


Terri Martinson Elton is associate professor of leadership at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN. Passionate about rethinking church in the 21st century, Dr. Elton is developing a contextual approach to faith formation and helping ministry leaders innovate and rethink organizational structures in today’s networked world. Her latest book is Leading Congregations and Nonprofits in a Connected World: Platforms, People, and Purpose, a book she co-authored with Rabbi Hayim Herring. For more see her website: terrielton.com.


“Kate-O” Unruh worked as a Graduate Assistant on the Confirmation Project during the first few years of her doctoral program here at PTS. Her forthcoming dissertation focuses on findings about confirmation practices in The United Methodist Church. She also co-authored a chapter in “Cultivating Teen Faith: Insights from the Confirmation Project.” Currently, Kate serves as the Managing Director of the Youth Ministry Innovation Lab at The Center for Youth Ministry Training and is an adjunct professor at Memphis Theological Seminary. She lives in Nashville with her husband and two young children.


Shonda Nicole Gladden is the first female lead pastor of The St. Paul AME Church in Indianapolis, IN and the visionary founder of Good to the SOUL, a social enterprise specializing in resources and experiences that promote human flourishing. Energized by the Spirit, Pastor Shonda is a scholar practitioner immersed in work that cultivates and curates goodness at the intersections of faith, art and intellect.


Jake Sorenson is the founder and director of Sacred Playgrounds, a ministry offering research and training to camps and congregations. He has a PhD in practical theology from Luther Seminary, an Mdiv from Princeton Theological Seminary, and more than fifteen years of experience in camping ministry and congregational youth ministry. He served as the camp consultant and quantitative researcher on the Confirmation Project. He has authored numerous articles on camping ministry, and has presented at colleges, seminaries, and camps across the country. He lives in rural Wisconsin with his wife Anna (a Lutheran pastor) and their two boys, Elijah and Nathanael.


Kenda Creasy Dean is a United Methodist pastor and the Mary D. Synnott Professor of Youth, Church and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. The author of multiple books on youth and the church, Kenda graduated from Miami University, Wesley Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary. She has been a pastor and campus minister in Maryland and New Jersey. In 2013, she and Mark DeVries founded Ministry Incubators, an education and consulting group to help faith leaders engage in social innovation and missional entrepreneurship. Her current ambition is to catch up on “This Is Us.”

Event Schedule

Day One

Registration will begin at 12:30PM in the Library at Princeton Theological Seminary 

12:30PM Check-in and registration – Library

2:00PM Welcome and Introduction – Library, Theron Room

3:00PM Elective A – Erdman Center, Cooper and Clarke

4:45PM Plenary Session I, Rev. Dr. Reginald Blount – Library, Theron Room

6:00PM Book Release Banquet – Library Atrium

7:00PM Round Table Discussions – Library Atirum

8:00PM Wine & Dessert Reception, Book Signing – Library Atrium


Day Two

A light continental breakfast will be served prior to Plenary Session II

8:30AM Plenary Session II, Rev. Dr. Lisa Kimball – Library, Theron Room

9:45AM Coffee Break – Erdman Center

10:00AM Elective B – Erdman Center, Cooper and Clarke

11:30AM Campus Worship in Miller Chapel

12:00PM Lunch – Mackay Campus Center

1:00PM Panel Discussion – Library, Theron Room

2:30PM Plenary Session III, Rev. Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean & Rev. Dr. Katie Douglass

Accomodations

The Erdman Center

Located on the campus of Princeton Theological Seminary and in easy walking distance to downtown Princeton. Guests may check-in any time after 3:30 pm. Check-out is 11 am.

$60-$120 per night

Please call 609.497.7990 to make a reservation. Be sure to state that you are a participant at the Conformation Conference. You may also make a room reservation online using the reservation number and link provided in the event registration confirmation email.

Lectures and Electives

The Confirmation Conference will feature the research and work of the Confirmation Project team, including a copy of the newly released book “Cultivating Teen Faith” for each participant. More information about the research and learnings to date of the team can be found here.

We will continually update this section as elective descriptions and lecture titles are finalized.

Elective A:

Title: The Logic of Camp in Christian Education
Led by: Jake Sorenson
Description: This elective will explore the deep rhythms of faith formation found in camps, conferences, and retreats. We will consider how the unique camp model supplements the ministries of the congregation and the home, along with providing practical wisdom for Christian education in a variety of settings. We will go beyond anecdotes to consider the new wave of empirical research on Christian camping, for which The Confirmation Project served as the watershed.