April Newsletter

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April Newsletter

What’s Happening in April?

We are excited to share information about our upcoming YMI Summer Symposium 2020 and YDS Summer Study 2020, which are open for registration; our Lunch and Lecture Series this April; news from OASIS; and new resources on the YMI website!


YMI Summer Symposium 2020
Doing a New Thing: Innovative Ministry for the Youth of Today
June 1-5, 2020 Yale Divinity School (6:00-9:00pm)

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
[Isaiah 43:19a]

What does “success” look like in today’s landscape of youth ministry? In a culture that prides itself on busyness and distraction, youth leaders need to be more thoughtful and creative than ever before regarding how to reach, engage, and empower young people. We’ll hear from pastors and youth workers from churches of different sizes and contexts, who have taken risks with different approaches to youth ministry and who have sen the new thing God is doing in their midst.

This week-long course is designed for pastors, seminarians, lay leaders, and youth ministers.  Each night from 6:00-9:00pm, we will gather for evening fellowship dinners, lectures, and workshop breakouts to name and discuss some new approaches to ministry to youth.  Throughout the week, we will learn with and from one another and look for some concrete ways to better nurture the foundations of joyful, flourishing lives for our youth.

Monday, June 1: The Sacred Scaffold: Fostering Youth Leadership for a Stronger ChurchRev. Jennifer Gingras and Kelsey Kaminski
Tuesday, June 2: The Home We Build Together: Recreating Youth MinistryRev. Jeff Rider and Becky Stambugh
Wednesday, June 3: What is That in Your Hand? The Priorities, Problems, and Projections in Youth MinistryRev. Keith King
Thursday, June 4: Better Together: The Joys and Struggles of Multi-Church Youth MinistryRev. Jack Davidson and Emily McKenna
Friday, June 5:  Panel Discussion and Small Group Workshops

Yale Divinity School’s standard charge for a Summer Study course is $450.  The Youth Ministry Institute is providing each registrant for this program a $400 scholarship, reducing the tuition for each registrant to $50 for the entire week-long program. To register and for more information go to the YMI website.


YDS Summer Study 2020
Summer Study participants have full access to program professors and the abundant resources of Yale University (Sterling Memorial Library, Peabody Museum, Yale Center for Faith & Culture, etc.). Summer Study classes are open to adults of any background, profession, or age.  Program costs are associated solely with the courses for which participants register. Courses can count towards continuing education requirements for some clergy. Participants receive a Yale Certificate of Completion at the end of the course week. This year, Almeda Wright is offering a course on faith development with youth:

Developing a Faithful Generation: On Faith Development with Youth
Almeda Wright, YDS Associate Professor of Religious Education
June 1-5, 9:00-11:30am

Ethicists and Practical Theologian, James Fowlers starts his classic text, Stages of Faith with a series of provocative questions, including: What are you spending and being spent for? What commands and receives your best time, your best energy? What causes, dreams, goals or institutions are you pouring out your life for? As you live your life, what power or powers do you fear or dread? What power or powers do you rely on and trust? To what or whom are you committed in life? In death? With whom or what group do you share your most sacred and private hopes for your life and for the lives of those you love? What are those most sacred hopes, those most compelling goals and purposes in your life?

These are all questions of faith and questions that lead us to wrestle with how we can continue to invest in our own faith development and in the faith development of youth and young adults. During this seminar, we will take up some of these questions and begin to explore the theories and theology of faith development, as well as some practical ways of inviting youth and young adults into lives of faith, and by extension faithful living and service to the world.

For more information on Summer Study offerings, visit the Summer Study website. Registration is now open.


YMI Lunch & Lecture Series
Dr. Angela Gorrell on Social Media and Working with Youth
April 1, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Yale Divinity School, 409 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511

Dr. Angela Gorrell will deliver a lecture entitled, “Always On: Social Media and Working with Youth.” In a time when people feel like they have to be always on, what can do we? Angela will share tips for leading constructive conversations about social media with young people and practical things you can do to help teenagers use social media in ways that nurture their well-being as well as express their Christian faith. Dr. Gorrell is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Truett Seminary, Baylor University.

The lunches and lectures are free and open to all. Seating is limited for this event.  RSVP with EventBrite. The lecture will also be streamed live on our YouTube channel.


YDS News From OASIS
Evolving with Social Media on Retreat

This month’s contribution comes from Scott G. Morrow, Pastor of the North Haven Congregational Church in North Haven.

In the beginning, cell phones were an intrusion on a youth group retreat. They were collected upon arrival at the retreat center, and returned for the ride home. Even as leaders and chaperones felt more comfortable keeping their phones with them, youth phones were kept in a safe place for the duration of the retreat.

As parent or guardian requests for youth availability by cell phone increased, a ‘phone hour’ quietly became a possible part of the evening retreat schedule.

Phones have only gotten smarter – calling, texting, and game-playing are just the beginning of what we do with them. On our retreat a couple of weeks ago, everyone kept their phone with them as a matter of course. The group handled requests to put the phones away during certain parts of the program very well.

I was amazed, though, at how helpful the smartphones turned out to be for the retreat program! When Bible passages were read in the group, it was from phones. When we listened to music, it was from phones. As we all sat in the dining hall after lunch, trying to identify what the faded quilt hanging on the wall was commemorating – with only the dates 1886 – 1986 as clues, it was the phones that provided the ability to search for possible 1986 centennial celebrations. Finally, as two groups of youth offered dramatic contemporary interpretations of one of Jesus’ parables, it was the phones that allowed the recording of video clips, the addition of music, and the addition of text. So much of what made the retreat so meaningful and so memorable was enabled by smartphones! Never an intrusion, occasionally a distraction, and most definitely an empowering tool- the phones are mainstream now.


New Resources for Youth Ministry Leaders
Have you been looking for a bible study to do with your youth ministry team? In addition to training modules, we are pleased to now offer the Yale Bible Study on our website in our Learning for Leaders section. This is a wonderful small group bible study resource for your leaders and volunteers created by Yale Divinity School faculty.