YMI Courses

Recruiting, Training and Supervising Youth Workers and Volunteers

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Leading theologians and pastors discuss the importance of attracting, training and supervising both youth workers and volunteers to lead thriving youth groups.

Aracelis Vazquez Haye Aracelis Vazquez Haye

Rev. Aracelis Vázquez Haye serves as the Associate Pastor at Church of the City, New London. Her passion and commitment to urban children and youth advocacy, education, social justice, and worship embodies her holistic approach to ministry.

Rev. Haye received her undergraduate degree from Eastern Connecticut State University (B.A., 2001) and has earned graduate degrees from Loyola University of Chicago (M.Ed., 2003), and Yale Divinity School (M.Div., 2012).

Outside of Rev. Haye role at Church of the City, she also serves as the Protestant Chaplain at Connecticut College and at The Waterford Country School. She is also a member of the New London Public Schools Board of Education.

Rev. Haye is married to her beloved husband, Kenyon Haye. They are the proud parents of Kaylani Anaya.

Mark DeVries Mark DeVries

Rev. Mark DeVries is the founder of Youth Ministry Architects and oversees the youth ministry at First Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee. His books include Sustainable Youth Ministry and Family-Based Youth Ministry.

Dori Baker Dori Baker

Dori Baker is Senior Fellow for Research and Learning at the Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE), an Atlanta-based leadership incubator for the church and academy. Her research lies at the intersection of young adult culture, innovative leadership, cultural studies of race/gender, and spiritual practices that sustain activism. She wrote Doing Girlfriend Theology: God-Talk with Young Women, is the series editor of a Chalice Press imprint highlighting diverse faith-based leaders of social change, and is the author of numerous other books and journal articles. She is a United Methodist clergy woman who facilitates interfaith gatherings of women and is active in movements for racial justice in the Virginia Annual Conference/UMC.

Kyle David Bennett Kyle David Bennett

Kyle David Bennett is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Caldwell University in New Jersey, where he also directs the Spirituality and Leadership Institute, a think-tank and training center that focuses on spiritual formation and citizenship in North American democratic society. His first book, Practices of Love: Spiritual Disciplines for the Life of the World (Brazos Press), is slated to release August 2017.

Matt Croasmun Matthew Croasmun

Matt Croasmun is Associate Research Scholar and Director of the Life Worth Living Program at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture and Lecturer of Divinity & Humanities at Yale University. He began working with YCFC after completing his Ph.D. in Religious Studies (New Testament) at Yale in 2014. While a doctoral student, he and his wife, Hannah, planted and pastored the Elm City Vineyard Church, a dynamic, diverse, urban church in the heart of New Haven, CT. With deep grounding in both the church and the academy, Matt brings to all of his work a passion for the intersection of the life of faith and the life of the mind.

His main research interests lie in the Pauline Epistles, illuminated by various streams of contemporary philosophy of science, theological reflection, and critical theory. His dissertation, “The Body of Sin: An Emergent Account of Sin as a Cosmic Power in Romans 5-8,” tackles an age-old problem in New Testament scholarship: namely, how to understand the relationship between “sins” as human misdeeds and “Sin,” the cosmic tyrant, in the Epistle to the Romans. The dissertation deploys emergence in philosophy of science to describe the cosmic tyrant Sin as a real person emergent from a complex system of human sins. Matt was a recipient of the 2015 Manfred Lautenschläger Award for Theological Promise for this work. His first book, The Emergence of Sin, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press in July 2017.

Matt received his B.A. in Music from Yale College (MC ‘01) and an M.A.R. in Bible from Yale Divinity School (‘06). After his Divinity degree, he spent a summer at the Akrofi-Christaller Institute in Akropong-Akuapem, Ghana, studying with the great African theologian, Kwame Bediako.

Matt’s deepest passion is for teaching—in both the church and the academy. He has taught New Testament Introduction in Yale College, served regularly as a teaching fellow at YDS, and has taught the Life Worth Living seminar in the Humanities program in Yale College, supported by YCFC, and designed and co-taught with Miroslav Volf the ”Christ and the Good Life” course at YDS.

In addition to planting and pastoring the Elm City Vineyard, Matt has served the Vineyard denomination in helping found and steer the Society of Vineyard Scholars, directing the first-ever Vineyard Seminarian Summit, and consulting with Vineyard leaders and pastors in the U.S. and Canada. He has served as guest preacher in Vineyard, Covenant, Presbyterian, Methodist, and non-denominational churches in the United States, Dominican Republic, Switzerland, and Ghana.

An advocate of interfaith dialogue, Matt has facilitated sacred text readings of the New Testament and Quran in partnership with local churches and mosques. He also serves as a faculty advisor for the Yale Humanist Community and the Life Worth Living Fellows.

Matt and his wife, Hannah, live in New Haven with their daughter, Junia. In his spare time, he loves playing and writing music as well as playing soccer, squash, and basketball.

Kara Powell Kara Powell

Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women to Watch”, Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Growing Young, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.

David Rahn Dave Rahn

Dave Rahn is a youth ministry researcher, author, futurist and missional leadership strategist. After beginning his ministry with Fort Wayne Area YFC in 1972, he joined the faculty of Huntington University in 1985 and served there full-time for 22 years before rejoining the mission of Youth for Christ/USA in 2007. In his current capacity he leverages his influence as founder of the Symmetry Series™ – a mixed method tribe-building strategy – to advocate for the surprising contributions to be made by young, urban, indigenous leaders who have overcome considerable adversity through their faith in Christ. His passion is to invigorate Jesus’ Church with kids who have a story to tell.

Rahn holds a B.A. from Huntington College, an M.A. from Wheaton College and a Ph.D. from Purdue University. He has published more than 100 articles, essays and books. Most recently he has served as general editor for two Tyndale projects: Three Story Bible (available in October 2015) and The Life, a Gospel of John bible-zine released in August 2014. He also recently published an e-book, Symmetry: Fixing Broken Patterns for Kids in Crisis (2014), available as a free download. Rahn has led numerous research projects related to how students influence their peers in matters of faith; in 2011 he studied the factors that most significantly influenced urban indigenous ministry leaders during their formative teenage years. He is currently an advisor of national research initiatives for Fuller Youth Institute and the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.

A past president of the North American Professors of Christian Education, Rahn is also a founding member of the Association of Youth Ministry Educators. He and his wife of 39 years, Susie, live in Middlebury, Indiana and enjoy their three grandchildren very much.

Patrick Reyes Patrick B. Reyes

Dr. Patrick B. Reyes, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Doctoral Initiatives at the Forum for Theological Exploration (fteleaders.org), is a Latinx practical theologian, educator, administrator, and institutional strategist. At the Forum for Theological Exploration, he supports scholars of color and works with institutional leaders on a number of inclusive excellence initiatives. His expertise is helping communities, organizations, and individuals excavate their stories to create strategies and practices that promote their thriving. He is the author of the book, Nobody Cries When We Die: God, Community, and Surviving to Adulthood. Learn more at patrickbreyes.com.

Abigail Visco Rusert Abigail Visco Rusert

Abigail Visco Rusert is the Director of the Institute for Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary, and the Principal Investigator on the Log College Project grant. The Log College Project will help 12 congregations design, prototype and implement new forms of youth ministry that are unique to a church’s context.

Abigail has had the opportunity to work with youth on three continents and in six churches. Ordained in the PC (USA), she served most recently as the Associate Pastor at Carmel Presbyterian Church in Glenside, Pennsylvania. Abigail is a graduate of Valparaiso University (music/theology) and Princeton Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Thomas, live in Doylestown, Pennsylvania with their daughters, Dorothy and Solveig.

Dr. Andy Root Andrew Root

Dr. Andrew Root is the Carrie Olson Baalson Associate Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary, USA. He writes and researches in areas of theology and youth ministry. His most recent books are The Grace of Dogs (Convergent, 2017), Faith Formation in a Secular Age (Baker, 2017), and Exploding Stars, Dead Dinosaurs, and Zombies: Youth Ministry in the Age of Science (Fortress Press, 2018).

Rev. Canon Chris Russell Chris Russell

Rev. Canon Chris Russell was schooled at a comprehensive school in Nottingham and after spending a year working at a church on a council estate in Birkenhead, went to Durham university where he did an undergraduate degree in Theology [1988-91]. He then went to work for Paul Boateng MP as a researcher [1991-93]. In 1993, he went to theological College to train for the Ordained Ministry at Ridley Hall. Whilst there he did an M Phil in Dogmatic Theology at Cambridge University. In 1996, he was ordained and served his title post at St Johns with Holy Trinity Deptford [Southwark]. Chris married Belinda in 1998. On the way to Reading, he served on staff at Soul Survivor Watford for a year, and in 2001 became vicar of St Laurence Reading. The church is in the centre of town and they began to work to the mandate of being a multi-generational community with a particular mission amongst young people. Chris’ First book, Ten Letters was published by DLT in 2012 and in July 2013, Chris was surprised, honoured and thrilled to be invited by Justin to serve him in this role as Adviser on Evangelism and Witness at Lambeth Palace. Chris & Belinda have three daughters [Hope, Jessie & Dora] and a very scruffy dog [Bernie]. He enjoys growing things [vegetables], chopping things [wood], listening to things [Dylan, Springsteen, Cash] and eating and drinking things in good company.

Dr. Anne Wimberly Anne E. Streaty Wimberly

Dr. Anne E. Streaty Wimberly is Professor Emerita of Christian Education at the Interdenominational Theological Center and Executive Director of the Youth Hope-Builders Academy, a youth theology program funded by the Lilly Endowment. Her publications include In Search of Wisdom: Faith Formation in the Black Church and Soul Stories: African American Christian Education.

Jamie Smith James K. A. Smith

James K. A. Smith is professor of philosophy at Calvin College, where he holds the Gary and Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview. Trained as a philosopher with a focus on contemporary French thought, Smith has expanded on that scholarly platform to become an engaged public intellectual and cultural critic. An award-winning author and widely-traveled speaker, he has emerged as a thought leader with a unique gift of translation, building bridges between the academy, society, and the church.

The author of a number of influential books, Smith also regularly writes for magazines and newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Slate, First Things, Christianity Today, Books & Culture, and The Hedgehog Review. He serves as editor-in-chief of Comment magazine.

He and his wife, Deanna, are elementary school (!) sweethearts with four children in college. Natives of Stratford, Ontario, they lived in Philadelphia and Los Angeles before settling in the Heritage Hill neighborhood of Grand Rapids. They are committed urban dwellers who enjoy gardening, travel, wine with friends, and curling up on the couch with their two maltipoos, Daisy and Kirby.

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