In last month’s newsletter I talked about my continuing education opportunity at Princeton Theological Seminary. It’s been a few weeks since my week at the Princeton Forum on Youth Ministry and I’m still digesting everything I experienced.

As much as this was a continuing education-work trip, it felt like Sabbath. It was time away, to rest, reflect and take in some new information. Since I flew in to Philadelphia on my day off (and before I drove up to Princeton), I did take an afternoon with some of my favorite superheroes at a museum in Philly. Such a nice day of rest after Holy Week busyness and before the Youth Forum.

Unlike other youth ministry conferences, the Youth Forum isn’t a sales pitch for the latest and greatest youth ministry models. It’s the opposite. In fact, the Youth Forum description says, “We believe that youth ministry and theology belong to each other. We think that lives and communities are transformed when theological reflection meets practical application.” This was a chance for me to think theologically, discuss with a community of people who do similar ministry and to reflect on the ways in which we engage our young people in the church. I felt like I was in seminary all over again. And I loved every minute.

It was also a chance for me to relax, to have others lead worship for a change, and to hear some fantastic sermons. It was a chance to meet new colleagues, 3 of whom I text practically every day. I am super thankful for our little group. It was a chance to do some thinking and reflection about the current secular age and why the behaviors we have as people now reflect back into the ministry we do. It was a chance to learn new thinking outside the box’ techniques in regards to Scripture and problem solving. It was a chance to hear lectures from professors at Yale and other colleges and seminaries.

It was a chance to engage with people who are making an intersection with youth ministry, the church and theology. And Audrey Assad! An amazing, pianist and singer. Go check her out because she’s fabulous.

Sadly, the main speaker I was so looking forward to hearing, Rachel Held Evans, couldn’t make it. She became sick and was hospitalized right before Easter. The Princeton Seminary community mourned her loss at the forum and all of us prayed for her family. About a week after I returned home, Rachel passed away. I’m still grieving her loss.

I asked my new texting buddies to sum up the Youth Forum for me, in hopes to relay that to you all because again, I’m still processing. All 3 said, “I’m still processing.” At least I’m not alone. However, I did bring home with me a new community, a new perspective on thinking about youth ministry, on ways to engage our youth and their voices in the church, and some much needed
rest.

Thank you all again for the support and the opportunity to attend the Youth Forum at Princeton Seminary.

Blessings,

Pastor Amanda