Gather ’Round Co-Sponsors Conference on Children and Youth

Above: Brethren Press’s Jeff Lennard (right) chats with Brian McLaren at the conference. The Brethren and Mennonite Sunday school curriculum Gather ‘Round was a co-sponsor of Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity in May in Washington, D.C. Below: Anna Speicher talks with conference participants at a Gather ‘Round display.

An innovative conference on ministry with children and youth drew well over 400 people from across North America and from several other countries.

“Whatever our faith tradition, wherever we live, we are united in shared convictions that the vitality of the church depends on children and youth and that young people are dear to God’s heart,” said Dave Csinos, founder and chief planner of the conference, called “Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity” (CYNKC).

The conference was held May 7-10 in Washington, D.C. Keynote speakers were Brian McLaren, John Westerhoff, Almeda Wright, and Ivy Beckwith. Some 55 others made short presentations and led workshops.

One of the co-sponsors was Gather ’Round, the Sunday school curriculum co-published by Brethren Press and MennoMedia. Staff members Anna Speicher and Rose Stutzman led a workshop on “Sunday School that Doesn’t Have All the Answers.” At the Gather ’Round booth, all preview packs were taken before the conference ended.

Speicher was gratified by the interest shown by participants. “People are hungry for the Anabaptist-Pietist message of our curriculum,” she observed.

Those attending represented a range of Christian churches and organizations, including the Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Church Canada, and Mennonite Church USA.

“As the church increasingly finds itself on the margins of our culture, we must rethink what it means to do faith formation,” said Josh Brockway, director of spiritual life and discipleship for the Church of the Brethren. “A gathering like Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity gives ministers and leaders a chance to share their experiences, explore emerging trends, and seek ways to minister faithfully in changing times.”

— Wendy McFadden is publisher of Brethren Press.

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