SPEAKERS

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

ANDREW ROOT

PhD (Princeton Theological Seminary) is the Carrie Olson Baalson Associate Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary. He is most recently the author of The Grace of Dogs (Convergent, 2017) and Faith Formation in a Secular Age (Baker, 2017).  He is also helping lead a John Templeton Foundation grant called “Science for Youth Ministry.” He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with his wife, children, and dog.

MONICA COLEMAN

is Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions at Claremont School of Theology in southern California. There she also serves as a Co-Director the Center for Process Studies and Director of Process and Faith.  Coleman has earned degrees from Harvard University, Vanderbilt University and Claremont Graduate University.

Answering her call to ministry at 19 years of age, Coleman is an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She brings her experiences in evangelical Christianity, black church traditions, global ecumenical work, and indigenous spirituality to her discussions of theology and religion.

Coleman is the author or editor of six books, and several articles and book chapters that focus on the role of faith in addressing critical social and philosophical issues. Her memoir Bipolar Faith shares her life-long dance with trauma and depression, and how she discovers a new and liberating vision of God. Her book Making a Way Out of No Way is required reading at leading theological schools around the country, and listed on the popular #BlackWomenSyllabus and #LemonadeSyllabus recommended reading projects.

Coleman’s strength comes from the depth of her knowledge base and from her experiences as a community organizer, survivor of sexual violence and as an individual who lives with a mental health challenges. Coleman often teaches Bible study in her local church, and speaks widely on religion and sexuality, religious pluralism, churches & social media, mental health, and sexual and domestic violence. Coleman is based in Los Angeles, and lives in an intergenerational household where she is an avid vegan cook and cyclist.

BEN  CONNER

is Professor of Practical Theology and had been involved in youth ministry in some capacity for over twenty years before coming to Western Theological Seminary.  He has served the Church both in congregations and through Young Life staff and currently serves on Young Life Capernaum’s Mission-Wide Board .

Ben has earned his PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary in Mission, Ecumenics and History of Religions.  His teaching and research interests include practical theology, youth ministry, discipleship and Christian practices, mission studies, and disability studies.  He wrote the first (and to this date, only) book on youth ministry and disability, Amplifying Our Witness (Eerdmans) and his [Dis]abling Mission, Enabling Witness (IVP Academic) comes out this spring.

His wife, Melissa, works in therapeutic horsemanship and together they have four children.   When he is not on Western’s campus, Ben can be found playing with his family, in the weight room, on the soccer field, or mucking horse stalls.

ABBI LONG

is a teacher, writer, and speaker. Her work seeks to empower children, youth, and adults through education that is rooted in Jesus’ teachings about justice, love, and peace. She is the co-author of the These Are Our Bodies: Talking Faith & Sexuality at Church & Home series for preschool, elementary, and middle school students.

Abbi has served in youth ministry for nearly a decade across many mainline Christian denominations. Most recently she served as the Director of Ministry for St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church and as a Licensed Local Pastor in the United Methodist Church. She taught special education in Kentucky’s public schools at the elementary and middle school level. Her Ma.Ed from the University of Louisville and M.Div from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary combine as a strong foundation for Christian education and curriculum development.  Currently, Abbi is finishing coursework in the principal preparation program at Western Kentucky University.

Abbi lives with her family near Louisville, Kentucky. You can learn more about her by visiting her website at www.abbilong.com

PREACHERS

ASHLEY DETAR BIRT

is the Director of Christian Education at Rutgers Presbyterian Church in New York City.  An outspoken advocate for youth ministry, parish ministry, and social justice work, she serves on the Board of Directors for More Light Presbyterians and currently writes for the Believe Out Loud blog.  Holding degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Union Theological Seminary, she strives to creatively combine issues of identity, intersectionality, artistic expression, and the Gospel.  Her passion for ritual, worship, and theatre have not only pushed her to use theatrical and improvisational elements in services but also to respond to God as a worship light and sound designer.  When not leading a workshop on pop culture and spirituality or hosting a church sleepover, Ashley resides with her wife in the Bronx.  She is a Steelers fan who enjoys kickball, Steven Universe, and the Food Network.

ALICE CONNOR

is an Episcopal priest and a chaplain on a college campus. She wrote Fierce: Women of the Bible and their Stories of Violence, Mercy, Bravery, Wisdom, Sex, and Salvation. She also co-wrote an article for the Journal for the Study of the New Testament called “Mantic Mary? The Virgin Mother as Prophet in Luke 1:26-56 and the Early Church.” That’s academic-speak for “Hey, maybe Mary the mother of Jesus was more than a mom and actually had a word of challenge to speak to us? Just sayin’.” Alice is a certified enneagram teacher and a stellar pie-maker. She lives for challenging conversations and has a high tolerance for awkwardness. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, two kids, a dog, and no cats.

SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR

Lauren Winner SQLAUREN WINNER

is an Episcopal priest and associate professor of Christian spirituality at Duke Divinity School. She is a leading writer and speaker at the crossroads of culture and spirituality. Following up on popular books like Girl Meets God, Mudhouse Sabbath, and Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, her most recent book, Wearing God, explores overlooked biblical metaphors for encountering God. She is completing a book called Characteristic Damage, which examines the effects of sin and damage on Christian practice.

YOGA INSTRUCTOR

COURTNEY PERRY

Courtney Perry is a photojournalist and yoga instructor based in Minneapolis. She teaches yoga at the Life Time Athletic Clubs in the Twin Cities. You can find her on Twitter at @yogaperry.

Eventbrite - Progressive Youth Ministry 2018