December Newsletter

December Newsletter

Reclaiming a Faithful Vision of Universal Human Rights

News from Yale Divinity Center


Holiday Season
The holidays can illicit many different emotions. Are you excited and feeling joyful about the upcoming holidays? Or perhaps this time of year brings up feelings of sadness or loss. Do you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or exhausted as you enter December?  No matter what you are feeling, we have meditations that can help to refocus and center yourself during this holiday season. Meditations can be found here. We hope these help guide you to a place of relaxation and fill your spirit.


Caroline Ainsworth Headshot Christmas Story for Younger Children
If you’re looking for a good resource for sharing the Christmas story with young children, Rev. Caroline Ainsworth Hughes recommends Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Alison Jay. Read the story with them, allow them to ask questions, and highlight things that they can look for when they see (or participate in) the Nativity Pageant.

From the YMI Director: A Thrill of Hope for You this Christmas
Dear youth ministry friends,

Congratulations! The Advent planning is done!

At least, we hope so.

You’re living into the season: the Advent waiting, which I wrote about last month, is upon you.  You’re ensconced in family Christmas plans, youth group Christmas plans, worship services, mission-based gatherings, and all of the hustle and bustle of the season. It’s a joyful time!

See YMI Director Jill Old’s message below on Christmas.


2023 Upcoming Events and Offerings


Mark Your Calendar!
The new year will bring new and exciting offerings! Scroll down to see some of what is coming in the new year.


Epistle to the Romans: An Online Bible Study Reclaiming a Faithful Vision of Universal Human Rights

Epistle to the Romans: An Online Bible Study with the Rev. Dr. Allen Hilton
Zoom | January 11, 18, 25, February 1, 8, 15, 22, and March 1 | 7:30 pm Eastern
Join Dr. Allen Hilton as we gather to study the Epistle to the Romans to deepen our understanding of Paul’s good news and to inform our more faithful practice of it. We start with Paul engaging in the human predicament, the gracious and just divine response to it, the shape of God’s grace as it enters an individual life and then a Christian community.

Reclaiming a Faithful Vision of Universal Human Rights with Allyson McKinney ’16 M.Div.
Zoom | February 1, 8, and 15 | 12 pm Eastern | 3 Sessions
Join us as we explore three Protestant theologians’ work on human rights in relation to pressing problems of injustice: systemic racism, rising nationalism, and enduring patriarchy. We’ll consider the legacy of exemplary faith leaders who have championed human rights. Gain new insights to inform your own work for justice in the world.
Register at: Epistle to the Romans: An Online Bible Study Register at: Reclaiming a Faithful Vision of Universal Human Rights


Hear about Justice Revival’s work from Allyson McKinney ’16 M.Div. who will join us for a three-part series in February on Reclaiming a Faithful Vision of Universal Human Rights. If you enjoyed this clip, watch the entire event here and be sure to register for Reclaiming a Faithful Vision of Universal Human Rights here.

Grant Writing for Congregational Leaders with Alison Cunningham ’84 M.Div.
Zoom | March 6 | 12 – 1:30 pm Eastern
In this workshop, we will cover where to look for grant opportunities, how to write the application that “pops” and what to do once you are awarded the grant. Using both private and government grants as templates, we will break down the specifics so that you leave this workshop with tips to help you secure new funding for your congregation’s mission.

Register at: Grant Writing for Congregational Leaders

Grant Writing for Congregational Leaders

YMI Upcoming Events

Screening of RACE To Be Human, a Documentary on Teens and Race Tending the Adolescent Soul: Offering Hope in an Age of Despair
Screening of RACE To Be Human, a Documentary on Teens and Race
Zoom | February 6 | 7 pm Eastern
YMI has partnered with IndieFlix to present a virtual film screening of RACE To Be Human, a 45-minute documentary that looks at race from teenagers’ perspectives. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with some of those involved in the creation of the film, including YDS alum Jason Craige Harris.We have secured the rights for participants to further share the video and use the accompanying educational materials within their ministry contexts. These resources are limited to a select number of participants, and will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Tending the Adolescent Soul: Offering Hope in an Age of Despair with Mark Yaconelli
In-Person | March 25 | Full Day Workshop

You are invited to our in-person workshop for storytelling with Mark Yaconelli. The pandemic, climate change disasters, racism, political vitriol, misogyny, the erosion of rights and mass death is taking an overwhelming toll on American families, churches, and communities. In a retreat-like atmosphere, author, youth worker, and community activist Mark Yaconelli will invite participants to recover the pure medicines of Christian formation: silence, story, and service.
Register at: Screening of RACE To Be Human Register at: Tending the Adolescent Soul

Internal Welcome and External Witness: LGBTQ Youth Ministry Internal Welcome and External Witness: LGBTQ Youth Ministry with Deacon Ross Murray
Zoom | April 19 | 12 – 1:30 pm Eastern
Deacon Ross Murray, author of Made, Known, Loved: Developing LGBTQ-Inclusive Youth Ministry will speak to our group about LGBTQ+ inclusion in our youth ministries, and how to be specifically welcoming of those who are in the process of discovering their sexual and gender identities.

Register at: Internal Welcome and External Witness



From the YMI Director: A Thrill of Hope for You this Christmas
Dear youth ministry friends,

Congratulations! The Advent planning is done!

At least, we hope so.

You’re living into the season: the Advent waiting, which I wrote about last month, is upon you. You’re ensconced in family Christmas plans, youth group Christmas plans, worship services, mission-based gatherings, and all of the hustle and bustle of the season. It’s a joyful time!

At least, we hope so.

You’ve been able, through careful planning, to keep the frenzy of the season away. You are centered, prepared. You have kept up with all of your Sabbath time and self-care regimens. It’s a centering time!

At least, we hope so.

But sometimes our hopes are dashed. Sometimes, through no fault of our own, things don’t work out. Even (gasp!) in youth ministry, we know this is true. Serving the homeless meal yields too few volunteers for the vision we had in mind. The Christmas party falls flat. The youth to whom you’ve provided pastoral care succumbs to more mental health struggles.

Beloved: When your hopes are dashed . . . where do you find them again?

Our ancestors in faith found hope in the most unexpected of places: a bright star, prophetic shepherds, a babe lying in a manger. In such sights—earthy and earthly things made holy—they found hope. They found, as the hymn proclaims, “a thrill of hope.” From that hope, the “weary world rejoice[d], for yonder lay a new glorious morn.”

Fellow youth ministers, we at the YMI are here with you, praying for you in this season. If you find yourselves in the early portions of this article, that is wonderful! If, however, you find yourselves less centered and more weary in this very full season . . . we see you.

We pray for good and holy things for you.

We pray that you are visited by your own thrill of hope this December. The best kind of hope, after all, is unplanned for. It breaks in, seemingly out of nowhere, and despite all of our plans.

We pray that your youth continue to surprise you with their witness. Perhaps God is working through them, to shine a light on the source of our hope. Perhaps you can model clinging to that hope for them, until the day when the Light outshines all shadows of anxiety, frenzy, and dashed hopes. May it be so.

Beloved of God, we wish you and yours every blessing in this Advent and Christmas season!

On the journey with you,

Rev, Jill Olds


If you’d like to help support our mission, you can make a donation here. There is joy to be found in practicing generosity. Your gift will enable us to continue to provide the necessary tools and resources that support life changing ministries.


Connect with Yale Youth Ministry Institute

Yale Youth Ministry Institute       Yale Youth Ministry Institute       Yale Youth Ministry Institute       Yale Youth Ministry Institute       Website

Connect with the Center for Continuing Education and Yale Bible Study

Facebook       YDS, Center for Continuing Education       Yale Bible Study       YDS, Center for Continuing Education       Website

Yale Youth Ministry Institute