January Newsletter

January Newsletter

Screening of RACE To Be Human, a Documentary on Teens and Race

News from Yale Divinity Center


We hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday and a happy new year, including some time for rest and relaxation. As you think about the year ahead, be sure to mark your calendar for our upcoming offerings! We have several events coming in the next few months, including an 8-session Bible study on the Epistle to the Romans, as well as webinars on human rights, grant writing for your congregations, a film screening of RACE To Be Humanlistening to youth and LGBTQ+ inclusion. Information on all of our offerings can be found below.


Belonging for People with Disabilities
“The Eye Cannot Say To the Hand, “I Have No Need of You…” -1 Corinthians 12: 21

What does it mean to have a “disability”? What are the particular struggles that youth with disabilities face? And what are the gifts that these young people bring into a faith community?

Here at the Yale Youth Ministry Institute, we believe that all people are created in God’s image. And in fact, that the community is incomplete without everyone’s presence and participation. It is often the exception rather than the rule that differently abled persons feel that sense of belonging, inclusion, and love.

We were pleased to recently host Dr. Erik Carter, from Vanderbilt University for a conversation on belonging. Dr. Carter has spent decades working in the field of disabilities, and his focus on young people’s need to belong was at the heart of our conversation.

We have resources to help you create communities of inclusion which can be found here.


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
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

 Jill Olds, Reverend Headshot From the YMI Director: Listening Well

Dear youth ministry friends,

“I’ve been told that I’m a good listener.”

Friends and colleagues: How often have you heard church people say they are good listeners?

Here’s another question: Do you always believe them?

Just for fun, let’s envision together what the world would be like if it were filled with legitimately good listeners. The quietness of winter, the soft snow falling, would teach us a thing or two about how to be quiet, and just let things happen naturally. Patience would just ooze out of us, unfettered and unconcerned about the next item on the to-do list. Ideas would take the time to rest, to hibernate, to take their time. There would be far fewer miscommunications. In short: Empathy would spring eternal.

Truly, if everyone who thought they were good listeners actually were, we’d have far fewer problems.

I’d also like to think there would be more justice in this world. Empathy would see to it that there wouldn’t be people who were hungry, mentally ill, targeted by virtue of their race. People would be held in mutual compassion.

What we’ve created in this exercise is a beautiful, idyllic scene. And yet, it’s not so hard to envision at least a little of it coming true. Do you remember the last time you were really listened to?  I mean, really listened to? That experience can be a deep gift, from which much can spring forth: blossoms of calm, peace, inclusion, and love (to name just a few).

Yes, the art of listening, when carefully crafted and honed, can indeed germinate a number of things. Here at the YMI, we are offering two very unique, very different programs in the coming months. They both take up the mantle of genuine efforts at listening:

Screening of RACE To Be Human, a Documentary on Teens and Race Monday, February 6th, 7pm, Zoom: RACE to Be Human
The first is a screening of the documentary, RACE to Be Human, a 45-minute film that showcases young people as they converse about race and racism. We will present the film, and then have a panel discussion with the creators. But that’s not the end! IndieFlix will provide YMI participants with access to additional educational materials so that you can continue this critical conversation with your youth group after the screening.Please consider attending and inviting your youth to attend as well! One of the panelists is a teenager herself, and she’s fantastic to listen to and learn from. The event is free of charge. The supplemental educational materials are not to be missed, and are only available to a select number of registrants. Register at: Screening of RACE To Be Human
Tending the Adolescent Soul: Offering Hope in an Age of Despair Saturday, March 25th, 8:30am-3:30pm, in person only: Workshop with Mark Yaconelli!
The second gathering will be an in-person workshop led by Mark Yaconelli, a prolific author, youth ministry aficionado, and storyteller. Mark will lead attendees in considering the roles of silence, storytelling, and service with young people as they emerge from (we hope! we pray!) the worst of the pandemic. The cost for the day-long event will be $25. Lunch will be provided, and scholarships are available.Mark’s event will include hands-on, practical tools for your contexts, with a particular eye towards pastoral soul-tending and (nudge nudge, wink wink) listening to our youth. This will also be an exclusively in-person event for Spring 2023, with the hopes that the gathering will allow time for networking, fellowship and in-depth conversation. Register at: Tending the Adolescent Soul

Beloved of God: as we look towards the new year, may we together consider what role listening can play as we strive to be God’s children, tending to our young people and ushering God’s kingdom of justice and peace into this world.

On the journey with you,

Rev, Jill Olds


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

Summer Programs
YDS offers two opportunities to learn in Summer 2023. Dive deep into a book of the Bible or important issues of our time through our traditional online Summer Study. Or live and learn on campus at a new, themed week-long intensive study. Participants receive a Yale Certificate of Completion at the end of each course. For more information go here.


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.


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