Monday, September 27, 2010

Symposium: Faith after High School?

It may be a few weeks away, but momentum for this year's Youth Ministry Symposium, hosted by the Department of Christian Ministries at Gordon, is really starting a buzz. This year's thematic question, “Will Your Kids Have Faith after High School,” hones in on an important question on the minds of youth ministers across the region. It’s a question that will be the primary focus of this year’s symposium. Though Gordon faculty and students attend the event, it is the region’s youth ministry community that is a huge draw for the event. If last year’s symposium is any indicator, over 150 youth pastors and volunteers will be joining us.

For the first time, pastors and youth pastors from outside of New England will be participating. With registration just underway, there are already registrants from North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi planning to fly to Boston to attend.

This year's speaker will be Gordon College alumna Cheryl Crawford, who specializes in the subject of youth and developmental faith. Dr. Crawford will present her recently completed doctoral research, which followed a group of Christian New England students from high school through college, analyzing the ramifications that decisions made had on their spiritual lives.

Bob Whittet, director of church relations and faculty member in the Department of Christian Ministries, is reaching out to an extensive alumni database of youth pastors from across New England to make this year's 9th annual symposium "the place to be" in October.

Whittet sees Crawford’s research as a great resource for study by current students on campus as well. “This is an important topic that will resonate with those interested in youth ministry,” said Whittet. “When presented with the opportunity to gather as a social community for our field, students often apply it to class discussions, bringing some real-life questions and relationships to the lecture hall.” Whittet views the symposium as an opportunity for current students to interact with professionals in the field and believes “students leave the symposium encouraged that they are part of something bigger than themselves.”

But Whittet is also taking the importance of this year’s topic to parents in the local community. “Everyone can identify with this subject, especially parents going through the college search process with their own kids.” As a result, Gordon College will be hosting its first ever Parents' Symposium on the evening of October 28, 7–9 p.m. Dr. Crawford will be presenting her research in a way that is pertinent to the parents of our region.

Gordon's Youth Ministry Symposium marks the largest gathering of youth ministry professionals and volunteers in New England. The symposium takes place Thursday, October 28, 9 a.m.–3 p.m., and is free.

Photo: Faculty from the Department of Christian Ministries, Mark Cannister, Sharon Ketcham, Bob Whittet.

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