SLT Workshops

2015 SLT Workshop Selections

Please choose FOUR workshops when you register online, one in each time slot.
FULL DESCRIPTIONS of each workshop are available BELOW.

Tuesday morning, 11:00-12:15 (choose one)

Recovering Overlooked Biblical Images of God: How Biblical Metaphor Can Renew and Deepen the Church – Lauren Winner
Falling Out of the Church Window – Rachel Gerber
#millenialslovechurch #evenyourchurch #dontstopbelievin #whatworkswhatdoesnt #mennomilleniallove
– Joe Hackman/Michael King
Inheriting, Interpreting, Imagining Faith – Andrea Saner
The more things change… – Peter Eberly/Matt Swartz

Tuesday afternoon, 3:45-5:00 (choose one)

Ministry with Youth & the Signs of the Times – Emily Peck-McClain
My Mother Was a None: A Longer View of Nones in Anabaptist Perspective – Mark Thiessen Nation
Giving the Church Another Chance: Retelling the Gospel in a Post-Christian Culture – Jake Lee
Panel Discussion with “Nones” – Nancy Heisey
Granarchists and upstanders need each other! Intergenerational co-conspiring for planetary health – Sarah Thompson

Wednesday morning, 11:00-12:15 (choose one)

Falling Out of the Church Window – Rachel Gerber
#millenialslovechurch – Joe Hackman/Michael King
Inheriting, Interpreting, Imagining Faith – Andrea Saner
The more things change… – Peter Eberly/Matt Swartz

Wednesday afternoon, 1:45-3:15 (choose one)

Ministry with Youth & the Signs of the Times – Emily Peck-McClain
My Mother Was a None: A Longer View of Nones in Anabaptist Perspective – Mark Thiessen Nation
Giving the Church Another Chance: Retelling the Gospel in a Post-Christian Culture – Jake Lee
Panel Discussion with “Nones” – Nancy Heisey
Granarchists and upstanders need each other! Intergenerational co-conspiring for planetary health – Sarah Thompson

Lauren F. Winner

How does our image of God shape the way we live, pray, and worship? Traditional images of God range from a benevolent father to a harsh judge to a dove. While the Bible is full of images of God, church folks have paid attention to a narrow range of them. So what if we imagined God as a carpenter or a mother hen? Would our daily lives change? Drawing on contemporary novels, anthropologists’ writings, and mystical musings, we will ask, “What it might mean to think of God as, say, a piece of clothing, or a dance?”

Emily Peck-McClain – EMS Faculty

Research has shown that youth in this country are overall apathetic and uninformed about religion; and that this attitude continues from adolescence into young adulthood. Even those youth who are part of faith communities often lack theological understandings about the faith in which they are participants or members. Youth, like adults, need the opportunity to develop a theology for their life with the support of their faith communities. There is enormous potential for creative ministry to be done by local churches when taking this task seriously.

This workshop is designed to give those who work with youth a chance to explore ways to help youth interpret and respond to their lives from a theological perspective. This workshop will take seriously the times in which we live, both the challenges and the possibilities, and how we can help youth respond using the resources of our Christian faith. This type of theological ministry with young people is one step in developing their faith. This journey is one which they undertake with the support of a community, which is comprised of others undertaking lifelong faith formation.

Andrea Saner – EMS Faculty

Standing on Mount Nebo, overlooking the Promised Land and surrounded by a new generation of Israelites, Moses had a daunting task before him: to pass on the faith of the exodus and wilderness generation to those who would enter the land. Similarly, each generation faces the challenge of passing on faith to the next, who will, by the grace of God, take up the tradition of faith and imagine how it speaks into new contexts.

This workshop will draw on resources of the biblical text to reflect on the process of new generations confessing faith with their own voice and in their own lives. Through attention to portions of Deuteronomy, we will imagine this moment in Israel’s history. We will also explore possible marks of the post-exilic community on these texts.

How does Moses interpret the law for the new situation of living in the land? What is new about Moses’ instruction? What is old? What stories and practices would shape Israel’s life together in the land? What does the inclusion of interpretation and tradition within scripture mean for us as readers? How might these texts inform how we strive to teach and encourage future generations of Christians? What stories and practices have we received from previous generations? How do these stories and practices shape how we live faithfully?

What will we pass on?

Jake Lee – Associate Pastor, Harrisonburg Mennonite Church

As a Gen Xer, I have been to my share of seminars on how to be more “relevant” to a culture that has had it with the church. I have heard my share of presentations on why we should darken our rooms, change the color of our stage lights, maybe light a few candles, turn up the distortion and volume on our instruments. Out of this has come a concern from many parts of the church that newcomers aren’t getting involved, aren’t giving or serving enough, aren’t investing in the larger community of faith, and are quick to slip out when the edginess begins to fade. Perhaps it is because we have sought relevance in the wrong ways, and have shared a Gospel that has produced consumers rather than disciples.

What would it look like to reclaim the subversive nature of the Gospel? As a “Gentile” Mennonite, I have come to believe that the Anabaptist voice is now more relevant than ever in retelling the truly good news of Jesus to a people that have given up on the church. Join with me in having a conversation about what it might look like to rethink our Gospel, and how we might find that it is more relevant than ever before: sans lights, cameras, consuming.

Nancy Heisey – EMU Faculty

—to describe in their own voices the interests, questions, and life visions of persons who by choice do not participate in the life of a Christian faith community (may reference experiences of growing up in the church)
—to allow church non-participants to counsel church leaders and church leaders to ask questions of them
—to explore potential intersecting areas of interests between church participants and non-participants
—to provide safety for everyone

Rachel Gerber – MCUSA Denominational Minister for youth/young adults

The good news is that teenagers are by and large not hostile towards religion. The bad news is the reason why teenagers are not—they just don’t care about it much. Kenda Creasy Dean writes, “If teenagers consider Christianity inconsequential—of ‘benign whatever-ism’—perhaps young people are telling the church that we are not who we say we are. If we fail to bear God’s life-altering, world-changing, fear-shattering good news—and instead our desire for God and devotion to others is being replaced by a loveless shell of religiosity, then young people unable to find consequential Christianity in the church should absolutely default to something safer.”

Rachel will lead a discussion on what the faith of our teens is telling us about our own faith, what we believe about church, and who we really believe God to be. She will also offer guideposts on how to cultivate a consequential faith in the lives of young people—which also has the power to transform our own!

Sarah Thompson – Director, Christian Peacemaker Teams

Join Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) director Sarah Thompson for an interactive discussion of the generations of CPT: its story of change processes and its processes of change. (More about CPT and its mission to “build partnerships that transform violence and oppression” below)

We will use acclaimed elder-teacher Joanna Macy’s method of sustaining hope and connection as we clarify for this moment in the life of churches and religion the personal gift of faith-full activism and what we have to offer an intergenerational group. Change is the only constant, and our spiritual gifts can help us navigate it: 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. CPT membership reflects growing trends in spirituality globally; many are looking for a place to engage faith with some of the world’s toughest questions.

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is an international organization set up to support teams of peace workers in conflict areas around the world. These teams lower the levels of lethal violence and resist ongoing structural violence through nonviolent direct action, human rights documentation, accompaniment, and nonviolence training. CPT has a full-time corps of over 30 activists who currently work in Colombia, Iraq (Kurdistan), Palestine and Israel, the borderlands of Mediterranean Europe and United States–Mexico, and alongside First Nations leaders in Ontario, Canada. Unique in the world of international human rights organizations, we train to challenge the inequitable systems that fuel division. These teams are supported by over 150 reservists who spend two to twelve weeks a year on location. CPT provides two-week exposure and immersion trips to these areas.

Joe Hackman – Pastor, Salford Mennonite Church & Michael King – Dean, EMS

Most pastors have felt the pressure to keep young people in the church. Yet in the midst of seismic cultural shifts, attracting young people to church or keeping them from leaving seems more challenging than ever before. But there is hope. Generation Y possesses many gifts to help your church thrive, and they want to be involved! In this workshop we’ll explore what pastors can do to grow their ministry to Millenials, and it has nothing to do with wearing skinny jeans or having a Twitter handle. Reframing how you think about pastoral care, the church budget, committees, and preaching, as well as other aspects of ministry, can make all the difference when ministering to this generation. Lots of opportunity will be given for workshop participants to share challenges and successes from their own contexts.

Joe Hackman is a Millenial and the lead pastor at Salford Mennonite Church, an almost 300 year old church 30 miles north of Philadelphia. Michael King is the Dean of Eastern Mennonite Seminary, attends Salford Mennonite Church, and is one of Joe’s most challenging church members.

Peter Eberly and Matt Schwartz

“How do we reach millennials?” is a question that many of us ask. The fact that we are asking the question proves that we are missing the point. One of our assumptions is that the current generation has changed beyond recognition. We don’t know how we can possibly reach them.

What if the thing that needs to change is the questions we ask? Has the gospel changed? Has the power of the Holy Spirit changed? Our questions will reveal a lot about us. What questions will guide us as we seek to be a church for this generation?

Mark Thiessen Nation

Though the terms may be new, being a “none” is nothing new in the U.S. American scene. Mark was
raised by a mother who was one. Thus one could say he grew up in a “nonery” (as opposed to a
church), as all of his friends growing up were “nones.” It is also the case that many mainstream
Protestant churches during the 1960s and ‘70s were in a panic about being culturally relevant and
keeping the youth and young adults attached to their churches.

In the present, it seems important to get a longer view of the (re-)emergence of this phenomenon.
Then, in light of that, we ask, among other things: What is new? Why have the percentages
increased? What are some of the particulars in regards to diversity among nones? And for some
of us, how might we live with such questions in light of our Anabaptist perspective? For more
than half of Mark’s Christian life he has been involved in non-traditional churches. Thus I have
always been quite interested in knowing how, with Christian integrity, we connect with those
who find themselves bored with or alienated from more traditional churches (and what such
boredom and alienation might signal).

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