DISCERN 2024

May 30 - June 2, 2024 Decatur, GA

DISCERN is a gathering of 18-30-year-olds interested in exploring their passion and call to ministry.

APPLICATIONS DUE MARCH 15

Discover who God is calling you to be.

Join us at Chapel on Sycamore in Decatur, Georgia, for a four-day Discernment Retreat. Experience a supportive network of like-minded individuals on a transformative journey to explore purpose and call. Together, we will encounter the power of community, unleash the collective strength of emerging leaders, connect with a diverse group of peers, and engage in meaningful discussions that foster personal growth and clarity.

Apply to join us if you're...

  • A young adult with potential for leadership in a Christian community.
  • Interested in making a difference in the world through the church.
  • Thoughtful, curious, and asking big questions about meaning and purpose.
  • Guided by faith and service.

Do you know a young adult who would be a great fit for DISCERN? Nominate them here.

Leadership

Rabbi Elan Babchuck is committed to leaving behind a world that is more compassionate and connected than the one he found. In pursuit of that commitment he serves as the Executive Vice President at Clal, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and the Founding Executive Director of Glean Network, which partners with Columbia Business School. He was ordained in 2012, and earned his MBA that year, as well. A sought-after thought leader, he is the co-author of Picking Up the Pieces: Leadership After Empire (2024, Fortress Press), and contributed to Meaning Making – 8 Values That Drive America’s Newest Generations (2020, St. Mary’s Press). He has delivered keynotes at stages ranging from TEDx to the US Army’s General Officer Symposium, published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, Washington Post, and Religion News Service, and has a column for The Wisdom Daily. He is a founding Board Member of Springtide Research Institute, which focuses on spirituality, mental health and Gen Z, and a Founding Partner of Starts With Us, a movement to counteract toxic polarization in America. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island with his wife, Lizzie Pollock, and their three children: Micah, Nessa, and Ayla. In his spare time, he is an avid rock climber and constant gardener.



Rabbi Elan Babchuck

Kim Jackson serves as Senator for Georgia State Senate District 41, representing portions of Dekalb and Gwinnett counties. Kim works every day to build a safer, fairer, and more prosperous Georgia, and bring the diverse voices of her district to the Capitol: immigrants, refugees, and people living on the margins.

In her first years, Kim has defended our voting rights against relentless attacks; authored life-saving legislation for stalking victims (SB 75 "Lease Release") which passed both chambers unanimously; secured unprecedented funds for Black farmers; started serving as co-chair of the Mental Health Caucus; and earned appointment to the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.

An Episcopal priest from the rural South, Kim made Georgia home over a decade ago. After graduating from Furman University, Kim volunteered as an EMT and led her colleagues at Emory's Candler School of Theology to advocate for Criminal Justice Reform in Georgia. Upon receiving her Master of Divinity, Kim commenced her vocation as an Episcopal priest. Over the past 10 years of ministry, she has served as a college chaplain, a nationally renowned consultant and preacher, and a parish priest. As the Vicar of the Church of the Common Ground, Kim co-creates Church with people who are experiencing homelessness in downtown Atlanta.

Kim and her family live in Stone Mountain. She and her wife are stewards of a small hobby farm in Georgia that hosts goats, ducks, honeybees, rabbits, and chickens.



Kim Jackson

The Rev. Dr. Montague Williams is Professor of Church, Culture, and Society at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA. He teaches, researches, and writes at the intersection of ethics and practical theology and is the author of Church in Color: Youth Ministry, Race, and the Theology of Martin Luther King, Jr (Baylor University Press, 2020). Williams holds a PhD in Theological Studies from Boston University, and he is the recipient of awards for teaching, writing, preaching, and leadership, such as Eastern Nazarene College’s Teaching Excellence Award, Wesleyan Theological Society’s Outstanding Dissertation Award, and By Faith Magazine’s Harry Hosier Award, and PLNU's MLK Legacy Award. Amidst the life of teaching and writing, Dr. Williams directs the Pilgrimage Innovation Hub, a Lilly-endowed research and development project that aims to make the theology and practice of pilgrimage more accessible and meaningful for young people across North America. He is also the co-chair of the Theology of Martin Luther King, Jr. Unit of the American Academy of Religion. Dr. Williams and his family live in San Diego.



Montague Williams

Located in Decatur, GA, Anton Flores-Maisonet’s primary vocation is Casa Alterna. Casa Alterna offers lodging, accompaniment, and assistance at no cost to individuals and families fighting for asylum and against deportation. During the pandemic, Casa Alterna has offered hospitality to nearly 500 asylum-seeking guests from over 50 countries.

Anton (he/él) is enrolled at Columbia Theological Seminary, where he is near completion of a post-graduate certificate in spiritual direction. He currently offers direction under the supervision of a certified supervisor. At present, all of Anton's spiritual companions are seminarians of color and primarily LGBTQ+ young adults.

Anton (Quaker/Mennonite) only offers in-person spiritual direction/companionship and enjoys embodied forms of direction, especially walking together.



Anton Flores-Maisonet

Puanani Calvillo, M.A.T. is a proud Samoan Filipina from Southern California, a spiritual director, facilitator, teacher, & weight lifter. Her work centers collective healing and liberation for communities of color. Puanani approaches spiritual direction as a companion, within the context of one-on-one or group sessions. She holds space to listen contemplatively & mutually to the movement of the Sacred/Spirit/Divine in the stories & wisdom of communities of her accompanee. Also integrating embodiment, imagination,breath work & rituals to support meaning making. She recently launched her own spiritual direction LLC, partnering with church ministries, organizations, & seminaries to provide spiritual accompaniment.

Puanani Calvillo

Rev. Kelsey Kresse is Associate Pastor for Youth and College Age Ministries at Abiding Presence Lutheran Church (ELCA), in Burke Virginia. Pastor Kelsey is a 2021 graduate of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and an ELCA Fund for Leaders Scholarship recipient. Prior to seminary, Pastor Kelsey served as an ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission Volunteer in Madagascar and as Program Assistant at Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Maryland. Having been highly formed by outdoor ministry and campus ministry herself at the University of Pittsburgh and then later working with students in Maryland and Chicago, Pastor Kelsey has developed a passion for working with young adults. She believes young adults are making decisions about what they want their lives to look like, what they want the world to look like and what they want the church to look like and that the church and faith should be made open and available to play a vital role in those decisions. In her current call, Pastor Kelsey engages with college age students in her congregation who are disbursed across various campuses, working to bring them together through creative connections, a summer and winter stipend internship program, faith formation, and vocational discernment. Pastor Kelsey lives in Alexandria Virginia with her dog, Kayak.

Rev. Kelsey Kresse

Candice Wynn is a native of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area and despite moving away at 18 years old for college, still roots for the “home team.” After graduating from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU), Candice immediately pursued graduate work at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, where she received a Master of Divinity degree in 2009. An itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), Candice has served in Youth Ministry since 2006.

Candice has the privilege of carrying out her Youth Ministry calling by supporting Youth Leaders all over the world as a Youth Ministry Coach & Consultant with Orange. In 2023, Candice launched “BOON – the Black Next Gen Network” – the first National Network of its kind. BOON’s mission is to equip Black churches & leaders to cultivate thriving Children’s and Youth Ministries by providing inclusive community, culturally responsive ministry strategy, & opportunities for amplified influence. Candice is infatuated with all things urban and artsy and is married to an Educator/Football Coach. As such, she and her husband, Max, often spend their weekends working on an art project, talking about faith, engulfed in sports, or sneaking off for a date when they can find a sitter for their children, Mason and Sunni.



Candice Wynn

Dr. Ossie McKinney is an educator who believes that worship is a lifestyle, not an event or worship service. Dr. McKinney serves as the Minister of Music and Worship Arts Director at Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. She received her B.A. in Music from the University of Louisiana at Monroe (2002), her Master of Divinity degree from Mercer University (2015), and her Doctor of Worship Studies degree from Liberty University (2018). She is currently completing the requirements for a PhD in Christian Worship. Dr. McKinney is an ordained minister and a Navy and Army Guard veteran who served during Desert Storm.Dr. McKinney loves to paint, sing, dance to Old School R & B music, and tour African- American historical sites in her free time. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®, and loves all things pink and green.Dr. McKinney is married to Rev. Charles McKinney, Jr., and they have five grown children. The McKinneys' greatest joy comes from being grandparents to their grandchildren Stormy, McKenzy, Winter, and Nazyr.

Dr. Ossie McKinney

The Reverend Marvin H. Bailey, Jr. is a native of Macon, Georgia. Marvin earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Clayton State University. A Master of Divinity from Emory University: Candler School of Theology with a concentration in Race & Religion and Society and Personality.

During his time as a graduate student at Emory, he served as an executive board member for the Black Student Caucus, Candler’s Baptist Advisory Board and interned at Providence Missionary Baptist Church and the Historic Ebenezer Baptist church. During this time, Marvin recognized how important it is for one who follows the Christian faith tradition to understand how their faith not only develops their individual piety, but also how their faith intersects with society and culture. While serving at Ebenezer, the congregation confirmed his call and witness by ordaining him into ordained ministry.

Recently, has served as an associate Minister at First Congregational United Church of Christ. Here, he shepherded various ministries, including the nurturing of children and youth, Christian Education, and the Monday Night Bible Study Group. His leadership extended to the development of volunteers and the creation of faith-based curricula for diverse age groups. Moreover, Marvin actively sustained the church's collaborative relationships with community and national organizations like Operation Peace, C.H.O.I.C.E.S., and Black Churches for Digital Equity.

Today, Marvin wears multiple hats, playing pivotal roles in both the interfaith children's movement and as a Lead Enterprise Systems Administrator at Emory University and Emory Hospital. In his administrative capacity, he oversees various cutting-edge technologies, including Microsoft Modern Work Services and Cloud Technologies, serving a community of over 60,000 faculty, staff, and students. Apart from his professional pursuits, Marvin has a deep love for reading, a strong affinity for music, and a knack for design, offering design services that span from crafting marketing materials to developing websites. He's also highly curious about emerging technologies. Above all, his core passion remains empowering individuals to discover the presence of God in their lives and the world.



Reverend Marvin H. Bailey, Jr.

was born in Guåhan and raised in Tacoma, Washington. As a PhD student at Princeton Theological Seminary, his research focuses on the intersection of military technology, political ecology, and Pasifika activism and intellectual history, specifically examining Pasifika cultural erasure and ecological catastrophe in light of 20th-21st century technologies and U.S. military occupation. Outside of work, Nathan loves family BBQs and Island reggae.



Nathan Samayo

Prerequisite Criteria for 2024 DISCERN

  • 18-30 years of age
  • Lives in the United States or Canada
  • Thoughtful, curious and open to learning
  • Willing to step outside your comfort zones
  • Not enrolled in or graduated from seminary
  • Asking big questions about their meaning and purpose
  • Has not previously attended an in-person FTE discernment retreat
  • Open to exploring the intersection of ministry and social justice
  • Interested in leadership, making a difference, and guided by their faith and service
  • Has potential for leadership in a church, college ministry, or community organization

COST

$0

The value of this event is $2,000 and includes travel, lodging, meals, leadership and materials. If you're selected to participate in this event, FTE will cover all costs.

DETAILS

WHEN
May 30 - June 2, 2024

WHERE
Chapel on Sycamore
Decatur, GA

WHAT
DISCERN is a gathering of 18-30-year-olds interested in exploring their passion and call to ministry

SCHEDULE

DAY ONE
3p Registration
6p Opening Dinner & Worship
8:30p Small Group

DAY TWO
9a Morning Prayer
10a Learning Journey I
1p Lunch
3p Small Group
6p Evening Program

DAY THREE
9a Morning Prayer
10a Learning Journey II
1p Lunch
3p Small Group
6p Evening Program
9p Celebration

DAY FOUR
9a Closing Plenary
10a Small Group
11a Closing Worship

Schedule is subject to change

DISCERN has been so validating. There's such a strong group of people here who are going through the same thing, yet none of us are coming from the same place. We are making space for one another and holding each other's stories and that's a really rare thing to be able to be so honest and candid while being held in that. Mitch Leet, 2023 DISCERN Participant
FAQ

All participants must apply (or be nominated) and be selected to participate.

The value of DISCERN 2024 is $2,000 per person. If you are selected to participate, FTE will cover all costs, which include transportation to and from the Atlanta airport and to the event venue, lodging, meals, leadership, and materials for the retreat.



No, we want your full participation in the whole experience, so you must be able to commit for the whole time.

Lodging will be provided at the Courtyard by Mariott in downtown Decatur, GA. You will have a roommate.

No, this experience is for those who have not yet enrolled in seminary.

All participants must apply and be accepted in order to attend.

Please contact Elsie Barnhart or send a message to us on our contact page.

Apply

Three Arrows