2021 Christian Leadership ForumForum for Theological Exploration FTE Leaders

May 27 - 28, 2021 - Virtual Experience

Join us virtually for the 2021 Christian Leadership Forum as we explore ways to Design Our Way Forward. Our national Christian Leadership Forum will give diverse young adults, students, scholars and church leaders opportunities to explore creative and hopeful possibilities that can emerge from crisis.

May 27: 11 AM (EST)

Optional Orientation & Virtual Platform (Hopin) Walk-Through

May 27: Noon - 7 PM (EST)

Opening Plenary with Bayo Akomolafe, World Cafe, Exploration Labs, Small Groups

May 28: Noon - 5:45 PM (EST)

Community Conversation, Design Session, Closing Worship with Rev. Gail Song Bantum

​If you’re an FTE grantee, faith leader, or young adult mentor, this will be an online experience you don’t want to miss! Tickets are $100 for accepted applicants* (not including current FTE grantees or the young adult cohort) and include online access to both days of the Forum, May 27 and 28, and recorded content after the event. Click here to learn if this event is for you!

The CLF is a carefully curated space for meaningful and reflective conversations. Therefore, an application process will be utilized to weave together a diverse community of unlikely conversation partners. Learn if this event is for you below.

Featured Leaders

Featured Speaker

Bayo Akomolafe

Executive Director
The Emergence Network
Author/Public Intellectual/Lecturer

Featured Preacher

Gail Song Bantum

Senior Pastor
Quest Church
Seattle, Washington

This Forum has really inspired me and also affirmed me in what I feel like God has called me to do in my beloved community. - Christian Leadership Forum Participant

Exploration Lab: Fearless Leadership

Nathalie Nelson Parker, Pastor, Speaker, Founder of the LIT Conference for Young Adults

Diving into biblical texts and immersing themselves in narratives, participants in this exploration lab will explore the themes of leadership, innovation, and transformation. They will have an opportunity to identify their leadership styles, explore transformational and adaptive leadership strategies within rapidly changing contexts, and develop innovative approaches to ministry.

Exploration Lab: Pray Big, Plant Bold, Start Now

Tyler Sit, Church Planter and Pastor of New City Church

When you look at your community, what isn’t happening that God would love to see? This exploration lab will build up clarity and confidence for starting a new ‘ministry’—whether that be a worshipping community, social justice movement, social service, or otherwise. This will be one part gamified learning, one part storytelling, and one part skill building. All participants, whether you have a clear ministry concept or are just starting out, are welcome!

Exploration Lab: The Purpose Gap: Visions from the Ancestors to Future Generations

Patrick Reyes, Senior Director of Learning Design at the Forum for Theological Exploration

Dr. Patrick B. Reyes will share inspirational stories and practices from his new book, The Purpose Gap: Empowering Communities of Color to Find Meaning and Thrive. An award-winning Chicano leader, author, and institutional strategist, Dr. Reyes will lead the community through an engaging practice that draws on the wisdom and practices from his ancestors to design a community-oriented vision where BIPOC can thrive. If you are wondering how to do diversity, equity, inclusion, and access work from a BIPOC grounded practice, this is the workshop for you.

Hybrid (online + in-person) Ministry: Pastoral Care and Meaningful Interaction in a New Media Culture

Angela Gorrell, Author, Speaker, Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University

During this exploration lab, Angela Gorrell will describe what it means to think about our communities as hybrid Christian communities and our ministry work as hybrid ministry (hybrid = online + in-person). Together, we will explore dimensions of leadership and pastoral care in a new media culture as well as ways to nurture meaningful online interaction.

A Way of Holy Insurrection: Contemplative Solidarity for Contemporary Radicals

Anton Flores-Maisonet, Founder of Casa Alterna, a community of radical hospitality for immigrants and refugees

On January 6, insurrectionists converged on the US Capitol, leaving five dead and scores injured. Meanwhile, nearly 3 million people have died from COVID-19, with about 20 percent of those deaths in the US alone. Black and Brown communities are once again bearing the brunt of a public health crisis. How does privilege blind so many from injustice? How do we open our eyes, our ears, and our hearts and see, hear, and know the way God does? How do we take the long journey toward revolutionary liberation alongside the crucified peoples of this age? Together we will revisit the story of the harsh system of Pharaoh and of a God who calls us to a holy insurrection and out of Egypt.


Kit Evans-Ford, Founder of Argrow’s House of Healing and Hope

Can faith leaders create safe spaces that combine both holistic healing and financial empowerment? This exploration lab will explore how social enterprises can be used to do good in the world, while also creating jobs for vulnerable populations. The founding, building, and learnings from Argrow’s House Bath and Body will be used as an example of a self-sustaining social enterprise. Argrow’s House provides free holistic services and employment for women survivors of violence. Time and space will be used to explore what ministry as social enterprise looks like in the wake of COVID-19 and racial injustice. Participants will wonder together, “what would a social enterprise look like in my context?”

When a Call from God is Bigger than a Church Building Itself

Ashley Goff , Pastor of Arlington Presbyterian Church

In 2016, Arlington Presbyterian Church (APC) sold its land and church building to create an affordable housing apartment building. APC gave it all away for the sake of its neighbors and God. In this exploration lab, Ashley Goff, pastor of APC, will share the fluid and prophetic ways of APC and how those ways have served the congregation well in the pandemic. APC has pushed forward in this particular time to share food with its neighbors and create a new money story with its wealth based on measured generosity.

Drawing In the Light: Experimentations with the visual arts, embodiment and creativity

Yohana Junker, Assistant Professor of Art, Religion, and Culture and Louisville Institute Postdoctoral Scholar at Claremont School of Theology

In this exploration lab, participants will turn to creative practices to weave, potentialize and “draw into the light” our practices of leadership. Through a series of centering and drawing exercises, we will learn to integrate spiritual wisdom, the visual arts, and our corporal ways of knowing to widen our capacity to see, create, and lead in innovative and inspirational ways.

Going Live: Curating Digital Hush Harbors in Pandemic Times

Melva Sampson, Preacher, Scholar, Writer, and Founder of the Pink Robe Chronicles

This exploration laboratory utilizes Black feminist, womanist, Afrocentric, and Afrofuturist values to illuminate what happens when oppressed people ‘go live’ to bypass traditional religious systems of legitmation and historically recognized gatekeepers. Centering Black theologically, politically, and technologically progressive preaching women, participants will consider the role Black digital faith plays in attending to the fissures within the institutional Black church in North America. Attendees will leave with an understanding of how to commence creating a digital hush harbor that resists White and Christian supremacy, misogynoir, and homophobia by generating and transmitting values of human flourishing while affirming liberating God-talk and supporting meaningful connections.

More Exploration Labs

Accompanying and Supporting the Next Generation

Children’s Defense Fund, to explore what a faith-rooted movement for child well-being can look like in 2021. Exploring themes of advocacy and organizing for racial equity and public policy change, participants will together examine their responsibility to the next generation as faith leaders.

Is this event for you?

This gathering is for you if you:

  • Want to expand your imagination about how to make an impact in the world through Christian ministry or help young adults in their vocational discernment.
  • Are hungry for new conversation partners to exchange ideas and explore provocative questions and challenges concerning faith, leadership, and discernment.
  • Acknowledge that diversity is a gift and inspires us to see, think, lead, and act in new ways.
  • Want to engage diverse viewpoints and experiences—theology, race, gender, class, age, etc— about exploring purpose, passion, and call.
  • Are looking for creative ideas and models of ministry that might inspire or challenge your thinking.
  • Are excited about being an active participant of an experience rather than a passive listener to “experts” or talking heads.
  • Can commit to full participation (May 27-28, noon-6 p.m. EDT both days)

This gathering is not for you if you:

  • Are not open to or curious about diverse people and perspectives on discernment, leadership, and ministry that may be different from your own viewpoint.
  • Don’t value shared conversation and practices and would rather be a passive participant in conversations and exploration of ideas.
  • Judge or condemn others because your experience and the way you talk about God, faith, church, and ministry is different from theirs.
  • Don’t believe that the church, with inspired & gifted leadership, can be a powerful force for good and shape a more hopeful future in diverse communities around the world.

I also appreciated the break periods as it acknowledged the "zoom fatigue" a lot of us are experiencing right now. - Youth Theology Network Virtual Gathering Participant

May 27 - 28, 2021 - Virtual Experience