2021 Youth Theology Network GatheringForum for Theological Exploration FTE Leaders

2021 Youth Theology Network Gathering

Church & Faith Leaders

WHEN: February 03 - 04, 2021

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Join us for an inspiring two-day virtual gathering for YTN leaders to connect, reconnect, and imagine together a new way forward in the midst of multiple crisis points.

Our featured speaker is Rev. Dr. Angela Gorrell, assistant professor of practical theology at Truett Theological Seminary and author of The Gravity of Joy.

There will be opportunities to engage with Dr. Gorrell and other thought leaders during the gathering. Workshops will also be available for attendees interested in topics around mental health and racial justice.

This event if for YTN program leaders and invited guests only.

Registration Closes January 8



February 3

Optional Workshops: 10:30 a.m. to Noon ET

The Fear of Plopping: Fostering Authentic Conversations that Allow You to Hear and Find Value in Others

Greg Ellison, Founder and Executive Director, Fearless Dialogues

Alisha Gordon, Animator, Fearless Dialoges

Fearless Dialogues will introduce Five Fears that Stifle Hard Conversations and offer an interactive deep dive experiment into one of those fears. The Fear of Plopping experiment introduces participants to theories and practices that overcome barriers to individual connections, circumvent obstructions to authentic conversations, and aid in hearing and holding value in others’ stories. This workshop will be an opportunity for youth theology program leaders to engage in practices that stimulate dialogue and foster truth telling among unlikely partners.


Helping Youth Unlearn the Habits of Whiteness

Chanequa Walker-Barnes, Clinical Psychologist, Public Theologian and Ecumenical Minister

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Author of Reconstructing the Gospel

Join Chanequa Walker-Barnes and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove to consider American Christianity’s enmeshment with slaveholder religion as a primary obstacle to faith formation and spiritual development in contemporary American society. Through the framework of moral injury, this session will help participants name the malformation that has been normalized in a white supremacist society and understand its impact on youth who are raced as “white” as well as Black youth and other youth of color. The session will present formation in an anti-racist gospel as a compelling mission for the church in our time.


In the Eye of the Storm, There is No Mental Health without Integral Health

Lisseth Rojas-Flores, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary

Amid a public health crisis and undeniable ethnic-racial disparities in our nation, how do we care for youth? What are the needs of our youth for integral healing and human flourishing? God is interested in all aspects of our human experience: how we thrive physically, psychologically, economically, socially and spiritually. We will discuss how an “integral missiology” framework to ministry can create opportunities to heal and flourish among ethnically diverse youth and their communities often caught in-between systems of oppression and social exclusion.


Power, Justice & Mental Well-Being: 3 Essential Ingredients for Social Transformation

Nicholas Grier, Assistant Professor of Practical Theology, Spiritual Care, and Counseling Claremont School of Theology

Leaders of youth theology programs should consider three essential ingredients for social transformation - power, justice & mental well-being - as vital dimensions of youth formation. As communities build and use their power, they must do so with a justice-oriented lens. Youth leaders and youth must reflect constructively on how to engage and dismantle oppressive ideologies, systems, institutions and cultures. They also must be equipped with resources to embody mental well-being so that they are emotionally, psychologically and spiritually well as they serve others. Participants will leave the workshop with resources for their contexts.


Welcome, Worship, and Opening Plenary: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

Retrospective Joy: Reflecting on the Significance of Our Youth Theology Programs

Rev. Dr. Angela Gorrell, Assistant Professor of Practical Theology, Truett Theological Seminary, Author of The Gravity of Joy

Featured plenary speaker Angela Gorrell will invite participants to move “From Despair to Joy.” Reflecting on the myriad ways our current context is causing feelings of despair, including racism and mental distress, she will explore why joy is mysteriously a work of resistance both in life and in youth ministry. Convinced that joy is not naïve, she will invite us into practices of retrospective and futuristic joy. She will help us to understand joy more deeply, especially joy amid suffering, and offer resources for both personal and professional healing and growth. She will include stories, content, and practices that help YTN leaders design their way forward. In a first plenary session, Dr. Gorrell will link retrospective joy with the “why” of youth theology programs, inviting participants to remember and reimagine the significance of their work. In a second plenary session, she will link futuristic joy with the “how” of youth theology programs, preparing participants to design their next steps forward in this conflicted season and beyond. Inspired by Dr. Gorrell’s framing of joy, YTN program teams, including their institutional colleagues and denominational partners, will convene and work through a design process structured by FTE. The process will help them begin to imagine what comes next for their programs. Dr. Gorrell will close out the gathering with final inspirations and blessings.


February 4

Worship, Plenary, and Program Teams: 10:30 a.m. to 4 :00 p.m. ET



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