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Offering Effective Pastoral Care

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Theologians, philosophers, and pastors examine the importance of pastoral care to youth and their families as part of a robust youth ministry.

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.

Sharon Ketcham Sharon Galgay Ketcham

Dr. Sharon Galgay Ketcham is associate professor of theology and Christian ministries at Gordon College in Massachusetts. She earned her Ph.D. in theology and education from Boston College. Sharon’s two decades of experience in ministry include serving the local church, researching, writing, teaching, and mentoring. As a practical theologian, she is a scholar for the Church and invites people to reflect theologically on lived Christian faith. She is currently writing a book (Summer 2018, InterVarsity Press) that examines the community-forming practices essential for a maturing faith among teenagers and adults. Sharon lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two children.

Kenda Creasy Dean Kenda Creasy Dean

Kenda Creasy Dean is an ordained United Methodist pastor and the Mary D. Synnott Professor of Youth, Church and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is the author of Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church and What Theological Education Can Learn from Youth Ministry—If We Let It (co-editor with Christy Lang Hearlson), among many others. A graduate of Miami University (Ohio) and Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, Kenda served as a pastor and campus minister before earning her doctorate at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1997. In 2013 she founded Ministry Incubators, Inc. with Mark DeVries, a consulting and teaching organization to help churches turn hare-brained ideas into joyful, sustainable ministries. Kenda was blessed by incredible youth leaders and camp counselors as a teenager who saw God at work in her before there was any real evidence that they should, and she’s spent forty years trying to pay that forward. She and her husband Kevin love hanging out with their two grown children, Brendan and Shannon, and to binge-watch every beltway drama on Netflix. You’ll find her hanging out at the beach as much as is humanly possible.

Mary Elizabeth Moore Mary Elizabeth Moore

Mary Elizabeth Moore is Dean of the School of Theology and Professor of Theology and Education, Boston University. Her passion is to journey with others to cultivate deeper faith, compassionate humanity, and a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world. She feels privileged to work toward those ends with colleagues in Boston University and around the world, especially in the practices of knowing the Holy, building justice, resisting violence, and caring for the earth. Her books include: Teaching as a Sacramental Act; Ministering with the Earth; Covenant and Call; Teaching from the Heart; and The United Methodist Diaconate (co-authored); plus three edited volumes, Children, Youth, and Spirituality in a Troubling World; Practical Theology and Hermeneutics; and A Living Tradition: Critical Recovery of the Wesleyan Heritage. She has engaged in interreligious relationship-building in local, professional, and academic settings and is presently working on a project to develop interreligious approaches to practical theology. Mary Elizabeth is married to Allen, and they have five wonderful children and eight fabulous grandchildren.

Yara Gonzalez Justiniano Yara Gonzalez-Justiniano

Yara Gonzalez-Justiniano, originally from Puerto Rico, is a PhD student in Practical Theology at Boston University with concentration in Church and Society. Her research interests include Latinx theologies, cultural identity and memory studies, postcolonial theory, popular culture and popular religion. Yara is Under Care with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and is in the process of ordination. Yara, also works with different church communities in hopes of maintaining an open dialogue between academic endeavors and the church.

Rev. William Mathis Headshot William Mathis

Rev. William Mathis serves as a Lecturer in Divinity at Yale Divinity School. Rev. Mathis is Pastor of Springs of Life-Giving Water Church (The Springs), an American Baptist Church in New Haven, CT. He is also the CEO of WLM Ministries, Inc., a non-profit devoted to providing consulting services for the development of community and faith-based initiatives with a specialty in the areas of Criminal Justice/Neighborhood Safety, Community Building, Youth Empowerment, Social Justice, and African Diaspora Collaboration.

Mary Moschella headshot Mary Moschella

Dr. Mary Clark Moschella is Roger J. Squire Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling. Previously, Professor Moschella taught at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., for ten years. Before that, she was a pastor in United Church of Christ congregations in Massachusetts for thirteen years.

Caroline Ainsworth headshot Caroline Ainsworth Hughes

Caroline is a career youth minister, currently serving the Wilton Congregational Church in Wilton, CT. In May she will receive her Masters of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and is seeking ordination with the United Church of Christ.

Kate Hyde Katherine M. Hyde

Katherine Hyde is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in mental health psychotherapy for children, adolescents, and families. She completed her graduate work at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, and held a Clinical Fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital, a teaching hospital of the Harvard Medical School. Kate worked closely with Dr. Nadja Reilly at the Swensrud Depression Prevention Initiative providing training and consultation around adolescent depression and suicide awareness and prevention. She participated in the development of the Break Free from Depression documentary and school curriculum. Kate is a Clinical Supervisor and also provides direct mental health services for adolescents and their families in an urban school district in Hartford, Connecticut. She is a member of the Adjunct Faculty at the School of Graduateand Professional Studies at the University of Saint Joseph. Kate has worked with the Yale Youth Ministry Institute since 2013 as a Lecturer and Program Coordinator, and served as a youth minister for a thriving youth program.

Greg Ellison Gregory C. Ellison II

The Rev. Dr. Gregory C. Ellison, II joined the Candler School of Theology faculty in 2009. His teaching draws primarily from his work with the organization he founded called Fearless Dialogues, a non-profit organization that creates unique spaces for unlikely partners to have hard, heartfelt conversations on taboo subjects like racism, classism, and community violence. Ellison’s research focuses on caring with marginalized populations, pastoral care as social activism, and 20th and 21st century mysticism. He is the author of Cut Dead but Still Alive: Caring for African American Young Men, and has two books in progress with Westminster John Knox Press – Fearless Dialogues: The Civil Rights Movement of the 21st Century and Anchored in the Current: The Eternal Wisdom of Howard Thurman in a Changing World.

Dr. David White David White

David White is the C. Ellis and Nancy Gribble Nelson Professor of Christian Education and Professor in Methodist Studies at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. His recent publications include Dreamcare: A Theology of Youth, Spirit, and Vocation and Awakening Youth Discipleship in a Consumer Culture, as well as a number of journal articles.

Dr. Evelyn Parker Evelyn Parker

Dr. Evelyn Parker is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and a Professor of Practical Theology at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.

Dr. Stephanie Paulsell Stephanie Paulsell

Stephanie Paulsell joined the faculty of Harvard Divinity School in 2001 as Lecturer on Ministry and was appointed associate dean for ministry studies in 2003. She served in the post of associate dean until 2005, when she was appointed Houghton Professor of the Practice of Ministry Studies. For the 2007–08 academic year, she was also associate dean for faculty and curricular affairs. Previously she served as director of ministry studies and Senior Lecturer in Religion and Literature at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Paulsell studies the points of intersection between intellectual work and spiritual practice, between the academic study of religion and the practices of ministry, and between the contemplative and active dimensions of the vocations of minister and teacher. She is the author of Honoring the Body: Meditations on a Christian Practice and co-editor of The Scope of Our Art: The Vocation of the Theological Teacher. Her current research is on Virginia Woolf and religion.

She is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Vanessa Zoltan Vanessa Zoltan

In addition to being the co-host of the popular podcast, Harry Potter & the Sacred Text,  Ms. Vanessa Zoltan is a research assistant at Harvard Divinity School. She graduated with her BA in English Literature and Writing from Washington University in St. Louis, her MS in Nonprofit Management from the University of Pennsylvania and her MDiv from Harvard Divinity School in 2015. She is working on a book about treating Jane Eyre as a sacred text. Her work with Jane Eyre and Harry Potter has been written about in The New York Times and covered on CNN. Vanessa blogs for the Huffington Post. She lives with 24 Harvard freshmen and her dog, in Cambridge, MA..

Dr. Chap Clark headshot Chap Clark

Chap Clark (PhD, University of Denver) is professor of Youth, Family, and Culture at Fuller Seminary, President of ParenTeen, Inc., and co-interim preaching pastor at St Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, CA. Chap is also chair of Christian Discipleship department. Formerly the senior editor of YouthWorker Journal, an administrative and senior pastor, a Sojourner contributing writer and “Red Letter Communicator,” and currently president of ParenTeen™, he’s also a speaker, trainer, consultant, as well as the author or co-author of 24 books, including the award-winning Hurt 2.0: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers, Sticky Faith, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Adoptive Youth Ministry: Integrating Emerging Generations into the Family of Faith and the forthcoming Practicing Adoptive Youth Ministry. Before teaching, Chap was on Young Life staff for 15 years as an area and regional director and training director; and for the last 25 years while a seminary professor, Chap has served as a consulting producer for a reality television production company. Chap and Dee have three grown children, one grandchild (and another on the way) and mostly live in Gig Harbor, WA.

Rev. Dominique Robinson Dominique Robinson

Rev. Dominique Robinson currently serves as the Youth & Young Adult Pastor at Shaw Temple AME Zion Church (Smyrna, GA).

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. Nadja Reilly Nadja Reilly

Nadja Reilly is a licensed psychologist with 20 years of clinical experience specializing in children, adolescents, and families. Dr. Reilly completed her graduate training at the University of Miami, Florida, and her clinical internship and post-doctoral fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital. She was a staff psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at Boston Children’s Hospital for 12 years.

Dr. Reilly is currently the Associate Director of the Freedman Center for Child and Family Development at William James College. At the Freedman Center, Dr. Reilly focuses on prevention, school and community mental health work, consultation, curriculum and program development, and education. She is the Director of Training of the center’s American Psychological Association approved internship.She is also an Adjunct Faculty member in the School Psychology Department of William James College.

Dr. Reilly is the author of the book Anxiety and Depression in the Classroom: A Teacher’s Guide to Fostering Self Regulation in Young Students, editor of Preventing Depression: A Toolkit for Schools, co-editor of the How Not to Keep a Secret peer leadership curriculum, editor and primary author of the Break Free from Depression school curriculum, and executive producer of Break Free From Depression, a documentary focusing on adolescent depression. Dr. Reilly also has extensive experience in working with community and faith based groups in developing and implementing depression awareness programming. Dr. Reilly has presented in numerous local and national conferences, and continues to promote awareness of child and family mental health needs through her teaching, research, and private practice.

Dr. Joyce Mercer Joyce Mercer

Dr. Joyce Mercer is Professor of Pastoral Care and Practical Theology, Horace Bushnell Professor of Christian Nurture at Yale Divinity School.  Formerly a scholar-researcher, teacher, writer, retreat leader, and professor of practical theology at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia, Dr. Mercer is also an ordained minister (teaching elder) in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Her passions include:

  • Advocacy and welcome of children in the church and beyond
  • Exploring women’s religious experience
  • The spirituality of adolescent girls
  • Conflict transformation and reconciliation
  • Facilitating conversations about difficult subjects
  • Studying congregations
  • Global connections, especially in the Philippines and southeast Asia
  • Contemplative spiritual practices and their relationship with activism
  • Older adult ministries

Joyce teaches courses in pastoral care, conflict transformation, theologies of childhood, feminist theology, youth ministry, and practical theology. Before joining the faculty at VTS, she served on faculties at San Francisco Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union, and at Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines.

She is the author of Welcoming Children: A Practical Theology of Childhood (Chalice Press, 2005), Lives to Offer: Accompanying Youth on Their Vocational Quests (co-authored with Dori Grinenko Baker, Pilgrim Press, 2007), and most recently, Girl Talk, God Talk: Why Faith Matters to Teenage Girls—and Their Parents (Jossey Bass, 2008).

Joyce is a licensed clinical social worker with experience in community-based health care and addictions. She is married with three teenaged children.

Charles Atkins Charles Edward Atkins, Jr.

Charles Edward Atkins, Jr.’s work focuses on religious practice in incarcerated communities. Charles is an ordained minister who currently works as a full-time Chaplain with the N.J. Department of Corrections at the Garden State Youth Correctional Facility, where, over the last 20 years, he has developed and maintained programs that teach incarcerated youth and young adults methods of overcoming inner and outer violence through the practical application of spiritual principles. His work in prison was featured by the World Vision Report in November 2007 and in the nationally distributed Haverford College Alumni magazine (Fall 2009).In 2015, with a working group on Religious Education in Prisons, Charles was able to organize an international conference on religious education in prisons at the University of Montreal that invited educators from the United States and Canada. As he drew toward the completion of his dissertation, Charles also received funding in 2016 from the Louisville Institute in order to research the genesis and best practices of religious education programs in prisons around the United States. Since Charles is trilingual—speaking English, French (fluently) and Spanish (proficiently)—he has worked for the spiritual empowerment and the socio-economic development of people in Central America, Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean (Jamaica, Cuba, and Haiti). He is also very interested in the challenges to religious practice of immigrants in their adopted countries. Atkins currently serves as a part-time preacher and worship leader for the French Evangelical Church of NY (PCUSA) where he helps this fellowship in Manhattan to strengthen their French worship service and their outreach to French-speaking people. Charles also serves as a motivational speaker, seminar leader, poet and program host for various projects. He created and implemented New Jersey, a curriculum called the New Name Project that helps disadvantaged teens to find life purpose and live with self-esteem. Charles was nominated for a 2008 Emmy Award by the Heartland Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for his work as the host and narrator of the nationally distributed American Public Television series called “Beyond Theology”—an investigation of interfaith dialogue and the intersection of faith and public life. Having once been an artist in the hip-hop music industry (Blacksound Productions, Paris, France), Charles continues to enjoy producing music. He has produced music to support a campaign to raise awareness of child endangerment. In this effort, his 2012 CD with “XtraLenz,” was called “Snatch Hope Back,” a grouping of spoken word poetry and hip-hop music (on iTunes, CDBaby.com and XtraLenz.com). Charles has a wife, Margaret, and three children—Ashleigh, Jasmine and Nicholas.

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.

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.

Dr. Yolanda Smith Yolanda Smith

Yolanda Smith was educated at three different institutions. She remained in her home state for her undergraduate training and earned her bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University. She then headed east and earned an M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary (1990) before returning to the West where she completed her education by earning a M.A. and Ph.D. in theology at Claremont (1997).

She joined the YDS faculty as a visiting assistant professor in Christian education in 2000. She became member of the core faculty as an assistant professor in 2002, serving in this capacity until 2008 when a bout with cancer forced her to change directions. On disability, she continued to serve YDS part-time as a research scholar and a lecturer. She was able to teach at least one course each year through the 2014-2015 academic year. She was recognized by her peers in the profession when she was elected president of the Religious Education Association (2012-2013).

Ebonie Davis Ebonie Davis

Ebonie Davis has served as the Associate Pastor of Youth at Trinity Baptist Church in Waldorf, MD for ten years. She conducted the most recent national multi-city study of youth ministries known for racially diverse ministry, and holds a Master’s degree from Huntington University in Youth Ministry Leadership.

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.

Christopher Carter

Rev. Dr. Christopher Carter’s teaching, research, and activist interests are in Black, Womanist, and Environmental ethics, with a particular focus on race, food, and nonhuman animals. He is the co-creator of Racial Resilience, an anti-racism and anti-bias program that utilizes the combined insights of contemplative practices and critical race theories. His academic publications include The Spirit of Soul Food (University of Illinois Press, forthcoming), and “Blood in the Soil: The Racial, Racist, and Religious Dimensions of Environmentalism” in The Bloomsbury Handbook on Religion and Nature (Bloomsbury, 2018).

The passion that informs all of his work evolves out of his family’s struggle to loosen the chains of systematic racism – similar to bell hooks he believes that education is the practice of freedom. He believes that at its broadest level, learning should be transformational: it should transform how the student views herself, her neighbor, and her worldview. Currently he is an Assistant Professor of Theology at the University of San Diego, a Faith in Food Fellow at Farm Forward, and Assistant Pastor at Pacific Beach UMC.

Seth Schoen Seth Schoen

Dr. Seth Schoen’s research and teaching interests are in contemplative and spiritual practices, especially the cultivation of compassion. He is currently exploring how the Compassion Practice and critical race and racial formation theories mutually inform each other to create a spiritual path of renewal and transformation. As part of this effort, he has co-created Racial Resilience, anti-racism and anti-bias training program. Racial Resilience seeks, in part, to facilitate conversations about race by grounding them in compassionate, open, non-judgmental, and non-reactive personal and inter-personal spaces. Currently he is also an adjunct professor of Practical Theology at the University of San Diego.

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