The Advocate continues our three-part series with words of wisdom from APCE’s 2023 award recipients. We asked them a set of questions about what they are curious and excited about as they look at faith formation in today’s church.
This week we hear from Jenna Campbell,
APCE’s 2023 ENRICH Educator of the Year award recipient.
Jenna Campbell’s passion for educational ministry began in her childhood, with formative faith experiences in her family, the church, and church camp which nurtured her strong sense of call (at the age of twelve!) to become a Christian educator.
A certified Christian educator, Jenna holds a master’s degree in Christian Education from Union Theological Seminary – Presbyterian School of Christian Education (now Union Presbyterian Seminary). Jenna has served two congregations in Oklahoma, currently as the Director of Children and Youth Ministry at her home church, First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater, OK. It has been Jenna’s “dream job,” giving back to the congregation that nurtured her faith and call to ministry.
Jenna is passionate about family faith formation and intergenerational ministry, as well as engaging children and youth in a faith that actively pursues justice and compassion in the world. She credits her (engineer) father’s gift of organization and her mother’s gifts of creativity and faith with the perfect blend of gifts for a Christian educator.
Advocate: What gets you excited about faith formation today?
Jenna Campbell: Having recently returned from the APCE Annual Event in Birmingham, AL, I’m excited about the different types of participants who attend the conference and how this reflects the diversity of leaders in faith formation today. Pastors, paid educators, volunteers, youth workers, commissioned pastors–all types of roles valuing faith formation as an important part of their ministry, since all ministry forms faith. I’m glad to see all types of leaders learning together, dreaming together about what faith formation can look like in their context, collaborating together, and offering different perspectives on what the future may hold.
Advocate: What are you curious about?
Jenna Campbell: These days, I’m curious about all-ages worship: how will we create worship that connects with and engages all of the generations present in our worship spaces? Who is doing this well and what can we learn from them? What small shifts can we start with on our way to fully inclusive all-ages worship? Who in our local context needs to be part of these conversations?
Advocate: These last few years have been a challenge for many of us in ministry, why do you stay in it?
Jenna Campbell: The inspiring faith of our younger generations keeps me in it. I see our children and youth leading the church into new ways of being open, justice-seeking, faithful communities of faith. They are helping us as churches ask the right questions about what it means to be a faithful disciple, living out our faith in the world. It is a joy to walk alongside them in faith, learning from them and growing with them.
Advocate: On a bit of a personal note, what are you currently reading/what books are on your night table?
Jenna Campbell: For ministry work: What Do I Believe About What I Believe? A Deeper Questions Devotional by Jen Bradbury. We’re using this with our senior high youth small group and it provides a gold mine of discussion. Short, three-page readings can set us off on a deep, 30-minute discussion that leaves us all wanting more. For personal: The Lives We Actually Have: 100 Blessings for Imperfect Days by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie (and the accompanying Bless the Lent We Actually Have free Lenten devotional that goes along with it!) For fun: Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver.