Gather ‘Round curriculum cosponsors major conference

D.C. event titled ‘Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity’

By Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

ELGIN, Ill., and HARRISONBURG, Va.—The Gather ’Round curriculum project is cosponsoring an innovative conference on “Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity.” The event takes place May 7-10 in Washington, D.C.

Gather ’Round: Hearing and Sharing God’s Good News is a Bible story-based curriculum published jointly by MennoMedia and Brethren Press.

“Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity” is presented by Emergent Village, Wood Lake Publishing, Seasons of the Spirit, Virginia Theological Seminary, and Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., which is hosting the event.

Other sponsors of the conference are the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, District of Columbia Baptist Convention, Eastern Mennonite University,, Duke Divinity School, Vibrant Faith Ministries, Bethel University and Bethel Seminary, Transform, Wesley Theological Seminary, CBFVA, Church Publishing Incorporated, and United Church of Canada.

“I’ve been saying again and again that we need a creative revolution in spiritual formation and Christian education for children and youth,” says Brian McLaren, one of the conference planners, “and this is the gathering that I think will bring the right people together.”

Dave Csinos, founder of the conference, believes that new movements within Christianity have much to offer young people but too often lack the resources they need to develop innovative ministries with them. He issued a call to those who are searching for a new kind of Christianity, inviting them to come together and generate new ideas and practices for new generations.

Topics discussed will include cultivating young public theologians, teaching young people about violence in the Bible and the world, faith development in interfaith contexts, sexuality and youth ministry, educating young people about social justice, innovative ideas for ministry, and teaching peace to children.

Keynote presentations will be by McLaren, John Westerhoff, Ivy Beckwith, and Almeda Wright.

Titles are:

  • “Christian Faith and the Next Generation: Why We Need this Conference” by McLaren
  • “Changing Times, Changing Responses” by Westerhoff
  • “Personal Jesus, Public Faith: Cultivating a Generation of Young Public Theologians” by Wright
  • “Godspell, Footloose (the Original), and a New Kind of Children’s and Youth Ministry” by Beckwith

“On the Ground,” a panel of practitioners, will be led by Michael Novelli and Amy Dolan. Others presenting at the conference include Shane Claiborne, Jeremiah Wright Jr., the Jim Wallis family, Joyce Ann Mercer, and Tony Campolo.

“This event sets the bar high: it’s got passion, purpose, and a line-up of theological luminaries who rarely share the same stage,” says youth ministry expert and Princeton Theological Seminary professor Kenda Creasy Dean. “What brings it all together is a shared core conviction: if we’re going to be the church Christ calls us to be, we’re going to need to take young people as seriously as Jesus does.”

Register for and get information about the conference at Find out more about Gather ’Round at


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