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Studying the Bible with Youth

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Practical theologians and youth pastors discuss the best approaches, tools, and frameworks to use when leading adolescents in Bible study, exploring the spiritual needs of young people and the transformative power that good Bible study can have on youth.

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).

Dr. Rodger Nishioka Rodger Nishioka

Rev. Dr. Rodger Nishioka became the director of Adult Educational Ministries at Village Presbyterian Church in March of 2016. He is also serving as senior associate. Born in Honolulu and raised in Seattle at the Japanese Presbyterian Church, Rodger is the son of a retired Presbyterian minister. He is one of the most sought-after and inspiring preachers in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Previously, Rodger taught at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta for 15 years. In that ministry, he taught pastors to be teachers and leaders in the church’s educational ministry, specializing in particular on youth and young adult ministry. On June 5, 2018, Heartland Presbyter approved him for ordination and installation at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, in the Village on Mission Sanctuary.

Prior to teaching at Columbia Theological Seminary, Rodger was the national coordinator for Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (1986-1999) and taught English and Social Sciences at Curtis Junior High School (1983-1986). Rodger received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Social and Cultural Foundations of Education from Georgia State University. He earned his Master of Arts in Theological Studies with an emphasis in biblical studies and theology) from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, and a Bachelor of Arts in English with Minor in History and a Teaching Certificate for Secondary Education (Grades 6-12).

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).

Christian Gonzalez Christian Gonzalez

Christian Gonzalez is the Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for the Youth and Young Adult Ministries Department of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. A graduate of Wheaton College, Azusa Pacific University, & Luther Seminary, Christian is a Licensed Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Arizona committed to the upbuilding of the Church as a family that facilitates the formation of youth & young adults into the image of Christ.

Areas of Focus: development and articulation of ministry vision, ministry training, young adult development

Father Michael Bird Michael Bird

Father Bird grew up in the city of Philadelphia and moved to Jacksonville, Florida as a teenager. He attended Swarthmore College where he studied History with a concentration in education. He taught history and coached three varsity sports for five years before attending General Theological Seminary in New York City. His first position after ordination was at St. Mark’s, New Canaan CT where he began as the Associate Rector for Youth and Family Ministry. Father Bird has been the rector of Christ Church since 2004. He says what’s special about this church is its deep commitment to building community, responsibility and a sense of God’s presence through music, liturgy and mission. Father Bird maintains an active presence in the community by serving as an advisor to many organizations and as an avid supporter of the arts and athletics. His next “big thing” will be working to improve youth ministry across the Diocese of New York, the Episcopal Church and hopefully across the larger Church as well.

Dr. David Anderson Hooker David Anderson Hooker

Dr. David Anderson Hooker is Professor of the Practice of Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He is also a mediator and peace builder with over 30 years of experience including serving as Senior Program Associate for the National Institute for Dispute Resolution (NIDR) in Washington, DC and Senior Fellow for Community Engagement Strategies at the JW Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at the University of Georgia. Hooker is a PhD graduate of Tilburg University in the Netherlands, a graduate of Emory University’s School of Law (J.D.) and Emory University’s Candler School of Theology (M.Div) and a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta Georgia. Mr. Hooker’s work has taken him to Bosnia, Croatia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Myanmar (Burma), Kenya, Uganda, and Cuba. He is the author of The Little Book of Transformative Community Conferencing (2016) and co-author of Transforming Historical Harms (2012). Hooker’s primary interest is in conscious and unconscious impacts of narratives in the creation, understanding, and resolution of conflict.

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