With 75 workshops available, offered over three days, the Annual Event offers an abundance of possibilities to learn and grow and be renewed.  By tapping on the category, you can summon a sorted list of all the workshops offered in that category.

*Indicates workshops requiring a supply fee.

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Thursday, January 25 – Workshop A
10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.


Come enjoy being a learner rather than the leader in an advanced Bible study of texts from the Gospel according to John. We will use various approaches of interpretation to delve deeper while also benefiting from engaging in contemplative practices and exploring various ways liturgy interprets scripture.
This Bible study continues through four workshop blocks and is designed with seasoned and retired educators/pastors in mind. If you choose this workshop track, you will sign-up for workshop 101 (A block), 301 (C block), 401 (D block), and 501 (E block).

In a hands-on workshop, come explore Psalms of Wonder at retro and contemporary centers. You may discover music, make art, delve into questions, create movement, and find other ways to engage with and reveal new dimensions of the psalms. This new children’s book by Carey Wallace and illustrated by Khoa Le (Flyaway Books, 2023) appeals to all ages and can be used in home and church settings, individually or in groups. This workshop will be playful and meditative.
Offered in partnership with Presbyterian Publishing Cooperation.

Why is it that we so seldom discuss the elephant in the room? Like an ostrich burying its head in the sand, we pretend that decreasing attendance, divisive topics, financial shortages, and other issues might disappear if only we worked a little harder, added another program, and resurrected the Sacred Cows of yesteryear. Warning: Elephants come with side effects – including exhaustion, a sense of being overwhelmed, and perhaps finding yourself on the brink of giving up on the church altogether.

As educators, we face challenging times. However, we can find solutions that don’t require additional time, money, or energy. Together, we will explore scriptures, share stories, analyze current research, and acknowledge the possibility that God is already working on a solution. This workshop experience aims to provide you with renewed energy, optimism for the future, and valuable resources for your session or faith formation committee. Always remember that “God is Good!”

“O Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult?” (Psalm 94:3) Victims of racism, violence, sexism, and such are among those thirsting for justice and crying out for relief from their oppression. Film can put a human face on social justice issues, so workshop participants will explore, with the aid of film clips, stories of rebellion against oppression. Participants will be helped to develop “eyes that see” more in a film than just entertainment, indeed, that some filmmakers can be considered as prophets with a camera. Thus, the films to be explored will be through eyes educated by the Scriptures in the belief that the God who spoke through a burning bush, a seer’s donkey, and disturbing dreams of misfits still seeks to speak to and call us, sometimes even through a film. These films are like the parables of Jesus, meant to challenge, disturb, and inform, hence their being labeled as visual parables. Participants will leave with a list of over 1200 films–dramatic and documentary–that probe forty social justice themes. Recent films, as well as older and classic films will be explored, including so-called “children’s films,” such as Babe, The Iron Giant, and Zootopia.

Recognizing the role of teenagers as practical theologians and their ability to engage in robust theological dialogue born out of disruption and disorientation. Why seeing that rhythm of theological reflection as a means of faith formation is not only important but can lead to innovative, relevant, and growth-minded youth ministries. How we can empower youth to not be passive observers of their faith but active participants, theologians who engage scripture, the world, and their actual lives in real and active ways?

It’s no secret that ministry leaders and the communities we serve have journeyed through the wilderness over the last few years. Many are fatigued, parched, and thirsting for new life in our ministries. In this season, talk of ministry innovation is all around us and commonly sold as a “quick fix” that relies on shiny, new ideas. But too often, attempts to innovate leave leaders feeling burned out, exhausted, overwhelmed, and frenetic. Innovation is not simply a problem-solving process or survival strategy. It can be a generative source of joy, growth, and transformation for faith communities when approached from the ground up. In this workshop, you’ll be introduced to the role your faith community’s organizational culture plays in fostering or hindering innovation. To borrow a metaphor from Jesus and gardening, a faith community’s organizational culture is the soil into which an innovative seed is planted. Your faith community must learn to tend the soil before you’ll be able to enact change effectively. Doing so greatly increases the likelihood innovative ministries will take root and lead to positive transformation in people’s lives. This workshop will equip you with language and a tangible process for exploring the impacts of your ministry setting’s organizational culture. You will learn how to discern appropriate next steps so innovation becomes increasingly possible in your unique context. This workshop is for any ministry leader – volunteers, staff, clergy, and lay-people.

With so much change happening around the church, figuring out how to meet the evolving needs of individuals and families often calls for innovative strategies. But just because we know change is needed doesn’t mean we know what kind of change or how to make it happen. Come explore the innovation process, from deciding what is no longer working to identifying needs, developing ideas, garnering support, trying them out, and refining them over time. We’ll help you answer questions like “How do I figure out if an idea ‘fits’ my context?” and “What makes something innovative?”, as well as “What prevents innovative ideas from getting off the ground?” and “How do I know if an idea needs adjusting or just more time to gel?” We’ll also share stories of successful innovation projects from our work as the Children’s Spirituality Research and Innovation Hub and talk about the power of innovation cohorts for enriching and sustaining new ideas.

Are you thirsty to create a program for tweens in your ministry setting that steps away from the traditional VBS week? Do your tweens want to be involved with your summer programming, but are thirsty to find where God is calling them, and use their voices for action and change? Come to this hands-on workshop to learn about creating a week of learning and action for tweens in your community. The workshop will include discussion, hands-on activities, and a take home manual for you to use to create your own week of fun and learning.

Millions of grandparents live at a distance from their family. But distance doesn’t have to mean distant. Come and join us for a unique webinar about how to create and nurture strong bonds from a distance. Learn how to design your “Grand Path to Connection” (i.e. Plan, Partner, Prepare, Play, and Preserve). Dr. Byrne will share practical, yet meaningful ways to move towards more intentional, consistent, and engaging relationship with your grandchildren — no matter the distance between.

Neurodiversity is a relatively new term that recognizes the diversity of processing, learning, and behavior that exists in humanity. Neurodiversity includes people who are “neurotypical,” “neurodivergent” and the many who are somewhere on a spectrum in between. Statistics suggest that 15-20% of our population is neurodivergent, an umbrella term including dyslexia, autism, ADHD, dyspraxia and other neurological conditions. The presenter’s experience in campus ministry suggests that the estimate of 15-20% is probably low, as young adults are now more commonly seeking diagnoses to help them understand their cognitive function and how some of their needs can be better accommodated.Ekklesia Campus Ministry embarked on a grant funded project entitled “A Celebration of Neurodiversity” to become aware of the ways that their ministry was failing to truly welcome neurodivergent students and how they could be more intentional about creating spaces that celebrate neurodiversity within the ministry, across the campus, and in the local churches with which they are connected. This workshop shares some of the learnings from the project and explores in the steps that local churches and other ministries can take to expand their welcome, both programmatically and in terms of physical space. Come learn how you can make these important adjustments to your ministries and widen the circle of your welcome.
Offered in partnership with UKirk Collegiate Ministries.

On Sunday mornings, do you invite the children to come to the front of your worship space for a special message? Do you need some guidelines, some encouragement, or some new ideas (maybe just any ideas) to help make this time more meaningful and enriching? We know that Jesus welcomed children and we all make baptismal promises to guide children in their faith formation, but that is not always easy to do – especially in the context of a worship service. In this workshop, we will explore the challenges of presenting a children’s time in worship, explore some ways to address those challenges, think about logistics and developmental appropriateness, and brainstorm some new ideas to take back and try out in your own context.

Recent studies by Andrew Root, Christian Smith and The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada have examined what supports North American parents expect from their faith communities when it comes to supporting and resourcing faith formation in the home. These studies have given evidence of a deep disconnect between what church educators think parents need and what parents say they need. Parents/caregivers have repeatedly indicated that they do not need more resources and are satisfied with the manner in which they are supporting the faith formation of their children while practitioners continue to report discipleship gaps in biblical literacy and the ability of students to articulate what their Christian faith means to them. All is not lost. Far from being a doom and gloom scenario, this workshop will explore where parents/caregivers indicate they seek parenting support (and it is not the church), how a North American culture of self-discovery or actualization has impacted caregivers the ability to to share their faith with their children and how the digital world is continues to impact their faith formation efforts. Together we will literally create new strategies for helping families and churches work together in this new climate.  Participants will leave with at least 5 actionable ways to re-engage parents in their faith communities.

What are the rhythms and rituals that hold your life together? What do you do to sustain them? There seems to be much that is destabilizing the rhythm of our lives and the world in which we live. How do we maintain and grow our faith through the ups and downs of life while growing the roots that go deep into our ever-changing understanding of who God is? This workshop will consider how we cultivate restful moments and opportunities for restoration and transformation in our personal lives and as a model for our ministries both life stage and intergenerational. Workshop time will include practical rituals, creative experiences, and take a-ways for exploring our longing for restoration and transformation.

You cannot just hand a game book to your church leaders and say, “Have fun.” Recreation leadership should be a part of the training for your youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, and childcare workers. So how do we give those folks a crash course in the basics? Discover what is to be attempted and avoided as we look at the fundamentals of recreation leadership. This workshop also covers some tried-and-true activities that your leaders could share at your next youth, adult, or intergenerational event.
Offered in partnership with Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association (PCCCA).

This interactive workshop will explore different methods of weaving faith practices into all areas of church life (worship, Sunday School, youth groups, mission projects, etc.). Participants will hear stories and experience themselves how the faith practices of Sabbath, Gratitude, Hospitality, Engaging Scripture (and more!) can be modeled, taught, and experienced in congregations as an intentional way of living and being with God as individuals and as a community. 

Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia are scary for the person living with the disease as well as their caregivers. Ministry for and with persons with dementia and their caregivers can be an uncomfortable prospect if you have no experience being around persons challenged with these diseases. This workshop will bring about some comfort and hope for an effective ministry with God’s “confused” angels and the ones caring for them.
Offered in partnership with the Presbyterian Older Adult Ministries Network (POAMN).

If you were given a million dollars to enhance the participation of children in corporate worship or to nurture their prayer lives, what would you do? The Wonder of Worship Project through Columbia Theological Seminary (CTS) answers that question with ways that your congregation can partner with CTS to benefit the worship and prayer lives of the children you serve. In this workshop we will explore what we’ve learned through the focus group phase of this project and introduce you to the initiatives that will take place over the next five years that will enhance your children’s ministry and connect you with others who are also doing this work through regional gatherings and media support.

Are you thirsty for a way to pay attention to God’s presence in your life? In this workshop, we’ll use writing as a spiritual practice as we reflect on the themes of the conference and the poetry of Mary Oliver. In her collection titled “Thirst,” Oliver explores grief and faith, all mirrored in her love of the natural world. With her poems as prompts, we’ll write about our own thirst for justice, life, kindness, and joy, and the ways God meets us every day. During a busy conference, join with others to take a deep breath, listen, write, read, and be refreshed.
Fee: $7

Thursday, January 25 — Workshop B
2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Using the art installations from the 2024 Annual Event, as well as those dreamed by class participants, we will explore materials, construction, and installation of art pieces that interpret scripture texts and themes for a deeper understanding of faith.

This workshop offers biblical and theological foundation and practical help in ensuring the church’s full welcome and embrace of LGBTQIA+ people. We’ll acknowledge the different ways our churches have addressed issues of sexual orientation and gender identity and how views have changed. We’ll consider particular acts of hospitality we can take with our words and deeds to strengthen our congregations and our common life for all people. The workshop includes a basic overview of terminology, deeper theological reflection, and practical tips. Participants will share ideas and shape the content through their interests and needs.

This workshop will examine several different techniques for creating worship environments that cost very little money, if any. We will also explore ways to acquire supplies and materials at very low costs. There will be time allowed for a small hands-on project that will demonstrate how easy it is to create a quality product at little or no financial burden.

Death is the greatest mystery known to humankind! Unlike birth that welcomes and celebrates new life, death is shunned, frowned upon, and even viewed with disdain. The certainty that we will die, coupled with the complete uncertainty of when, how, or what happens beyond death is truly a fantastic paradox. We live in a death-denying culture. How we personally have experienced death is reflected in how we engage others during times of death and/or the dying process. As the Church is called to meet the caregiving needs of its congregation and surrounding communities – by journeying alongside those experiencing death in its varied expressions – it must be considered, is the Church reflective of who it’s called to be “on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10b),” as the living embodiment of “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1)? This workshop asks, “Who must the Church become in order to extend compassionate presence, cultivate courageous conversations, and make meaningful connections while accompanying the other during the death and dying process?” Through critical discussion, group talk, and role play this workshop aims to help participants reach a theologically and critically informed understanding about death and dying and act as a catalyst in helping participants identify and use their spiritual gifts in service to and support for care seekers when experiencing their most vulnerable times of need in death and dying.

As educators, we are thirsty for new ways to nurture faith. Yet, we would also like to know that the ideas we hear about have been tested and refined. We want to understand how a practice works and the reasons behind various components. And we wonder how to make sure a practice is a good ‘fit’ for our setting. This workshop, led by Children’s Spirituality Hub staff from Union Presbyterian Seminary, invites participants to drink from our wellspring of innovative practices. We’ll teach you three practices (Holy Listening, Embodied Prayer, and Questions?) designed and tested in multiple settings through the Hub. Holy Listening is a one-on-one practice with young children that uses a finger labyrinth, symbol stones, and a hand blessing to explore centering, emotions, and spiritual connections. Embodied Prayer involves movement-based prayers designed to help children experience spiritual connection with self, others, the natural world, and God. We tested a set of six themed prayers (Connection, Empowerment, Wonder, Awareness, Empathy, Justice) with groups ranging in size from 6 – 100+ kids. Questions? uses a set of infographic cards to help parents recognize the types of spiritual questions children are asking and guide families in exploring those questions together. You’ll learn how the practices work, as well as the child development and education theories that shaped their design. We’ll also show you how to integrate these ideas into existing ministries, as well as create new components (your own embodied prayer scripts) and approaches (using holy listening with groups) to fit your needs.

Join Kirk Dunn, aka The Knitting Pilgrim, after he performs his one-man show of the same name, to talk about the miraculous transformation of a single strand into a fabric stitched with care, intention, and love. In this workshop, Kirk meets the participants at their skill level—beginner to advanced—and looks at three spiritual applications of this accessible artform: mindfulness, ministry, and craftivism. Each application is explored through small group brainstorming, knitting exercises, and free pattern/how-to handouts which participants can use to start a program of their own. Kirk will encourage and empower knitters to be the change they want to see in the world. Participants will leave the session with a deeper appreciation of what they can do for themselves, and, more importantly, for others… through the accessible craft of knitting.

We’ll visit the St. Louis Gateway Arch as tourists, but as educators we’ll dig deeper to examine what it can teach us about colonialism, Manifest Destiny, and other challenging parts of our national and church history. This offsite workshop will equip us to learn from and look more carefully at the monuments in our own communities.
Fee: $30 (includes transportation to and from the Gateway Arch and a ticket for the tram to the top of the Arch)

I will discuss the above-referenced topic, present questions/discussion points, and encourage dialogue to enlighten ways in which enslaved people were able to escape bondage. Faith, hope and trust in God guided them through their perilous journey. African American spirituals, many of them adapted and still used in our churches today, contained coded references to the next destination, etc. The theme will be how human dignity and perseverance trump unjust “laws” and systematic brutality. The goal will be to leave with a renewed sense of justice and ways we can overcome injustice in our world today.

This workshop will open the window into the lived experience of people with disabilities. Come and hear their questions. Learn how to listen to the experience of people with disabilities in your community.
“What is your relationship with us and our families? We may be Included, but do we really Belong?”
“We are thirsty…Do you notice when we are not there? Do you know if we are sick, or if we just need transportation?”
“Do you know that we are looking for relationships, not a separate program with a label?”
Through our stories and our conversations, this workshop will equip you to walk beside us as we navigate the transition from being teens to living as adults in our communities. You will learn “best practices” for making your congregation a community of Belonging where our gifts and leadership are valued. The workshop will include small group time. Leaders from Presbyterians for Disability Concerns will facilitate conversations about implementing “best practices” in your congregation or community. Our spirits are renewed by community – a community which filters the barriers to our participation in Christ’s abundant love and grace.

Too often Christian grievers are rushed to focus on the promise of heaven rather than faithfully navigating the process of grief, but grief is not a season of either/or. In this workshop, meant for grievers and helpers alike, participants will learn how to move through grief in a way that honors both their faith and the truths God reveals in the psychology of grieving. Phases of grief will be introduced and several tools will be taught to assist participants in learning the foundations of grief and faith, what emotions are, why it is crucial to embrace emotions, and why one’s spiritual life is so central to the grief journey.
Fee: $5

Interact with a group of APCE Educator of the Year and Life Achievement Award winners as they share what they as “Seasoned Educators’ have learned over the years. Benefit from what they know now that they wished they had known when they first started and what they have learned from past “failures.”  If you have fresh seasoning to add or if you are a fresh, new-to-the-job educator, please join us! A time for Q & A will also be allotted.
This workshop will be approximately 1.5 hours.

Friday, January 26 – Workshop C
11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.


Come enjoy being a learner rather than the leader in an advanced Bible study of texts from the Gospel according to John. We will use various approaches of interpretation to delve deeper while also benefiting from engaging in contemplative practices and exploring various ways liturgy interprets scripture.
This Bible study continues through four workshop blocks and is designed with seasoned and retired educators/pastors in mind. If you choose this workshop track, you will sign-up for workshop 101 (A block), 301 (C block), 401 (D block), and 501 (E block).

According to current research, 56% of Americans have not communicated their end-of-life wishes to their circle of support. This reality often leads to adverse outcomes at one of life’s most sacred times, including a higher likelihood of dying in a hospital, unwanted and invasive end-of-life treatments, and inadequate pain management throught the dying process. The lack of planning and conversation can also complicate the grieving process and impact spiritual and emotional health. It is important to start the conversation. Yet, the societal focus on the individualist, legalistic, and monetary aspects of advanced care planning is often off-putting to many people of faith. Embracing the process’s spiritual, communal, and cultural elements can offer a new lens through which we can view end-of-life care planning. End-of-life planning can be a life-affirming and generative process that improves our lives in the here and now and for future generations. This workshop will provide tools and resources to transform end-of-life planning into a spiritual practice.

Paracosms are highly detailed, imagined worlds developed by one or more persons and revisited often. The Bronte sisters developed paracosms, and C.S. Lewis and his brother “Warnie” developed a paracosm, complete with a written history and artifacts. They didn’t return to that world after they became adults, but, of course, C.S. Lewis created imagined worlds that many of us have visited on the page and on the screen. Often, paracosms are dismissed as play, but Christians create a paracosm every time we imagine a world where people “come from north and south and east and west and sit at table in the Kingdom of God.” Paracosms can be more than entertainment. They are excellent tools for teaching everything from ethics and theology to the SEL skills that make all of us better citizens in this world. In this workshop we will consider what paracosms are, looking at some of the more famous ones in literature and the arts, as well as the research findings on individuals who develop paracosms. We’ll consider the ways that paracosms can enhance aspects of Christian Education in the church and look at strategies and prompts for helping people (including participants!) develop their own paracosms.

This workshop is a practical primer on how to reengage in meaningful and missional relationship with the neighborhood around your congregation. Many congregations began as neighborhood churches, drawing membership and ministry directly from the community where the church was planted. Over time, members move, and neighborhoods transition. The original connections are often lost, and the church can struggle to re-connect with the new reality in the hood. Rev. Mueller will draw upon over thirty years of experience working in one congregation and neighborhood to reestablish and maintain meaningful and missional relationships that bless the families of the neighborhood and the congregation.

This workshop will introduce participants to the basics of community organizing with the purpose of organizing houses of worship to work together to build a critical mass of buildings and projects to negotiate the best rates and prices for transitioning to renewable energy. The workshop will also include a basic introduction to the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Act, which provide non-profits and religious organizations money to do this work. In addition, the workshop will provide a basic introduction to how this work in renewable energy can be a force for outreach in your community. Finally, the workshop will try to include examples of how the principles of community organizing can provide benefits to every area of your ministry, including discipleship and faith formation.

As Christian religious institutions of all sizes and kinds emerge from the shutdowns enforced by the Covid-19 pandemic, many ask, “Where are the young families? What can we do to get them back? Why are they choosing not to come? What are we doing wrong?” All of this is leading to a high level of burnout for lay and ordained leadership. Everyone is looking for answers. This workshop will give some answers to these questions, sharing research conducted with both caregivers and congregational leaders. Data revealed that congregational leaders perceive the lack of engagement from families as a lack of interest at best and, at worst, a devaluing of spirituality and faith over and against other pursuits. However, caregivers revealed that they deeply value spirituality and issues of faith. Current parents are the children of yesterday’s church whose experiences were less than positive and sometimes even hurtful. Today, these parents feel a need to do something different. As a result, they are not disinterested in spirituality. They just aren’t convinced institutionalized forms of instruction and formation are the best choice for their children. Perhaps the isolation of Covid-19, for better or worse, further validated this assumption. How do we bridge the gap? Join us as we consider some potential pathways for congregations looking for new ways to meet the needs of families.

Who is nurturing your young adults in their faith formation when they go off to college or begin a trade? Learn how you can be more engaged in the lives of students during these formative years and commit to investing in these emerging church leaders now. This workshop demystifies young adult faith development and equips local churches to connect with and support young adults in the area. Intentional attention given to the faith formation of people at this integral stage of development helps the individuals to find their place in church and society more readily and to thrive once they are there. It also helps the church to understand what it means to make space for the gifts and wisdom of young adult leaders. This workshop draws on insights from campus ministers, sociologists, and others who work regularly with emerging adults. Among the many topics covered are stages of psychosocial development, stages of faith development, patterns and cycles in young adult life, and a 4-phase process that many young adults experience on their way from the embedded faith handed down to them to the deliberative faith that they claim and practice in their adult life.
Offered in partnership with UKirk Collegiate Ministries.

In our ministries we are seeing more and more students who have ADHD, Dyslexia, and Autism. As a mother of an autistic daughter and a Children’s Director, I am passionate about embracing neurodiversity in the Church. When we create spaces to welcome those on the spectrum of neurodiversity, everyone benefits. We will cover basic tools and strategies in Christian Education for neurodiversity and how to partner with families.

Finding creative ways to engage the community around you though children/youth programming during the year. We will look at some successful programming and ways to leverage the relationships in your community to build a space of safety and comfort for the people who live closest to your church building.

This workshop will both explore the essentials of a faithful sexuality program with youth and create a model plan for each person’s own congregation. Participants will consider research on the positive effects of sexuality education in the church and then will collaborate on ways to integrate this aspect of faithful living into their own faith formation programs. Bring a Bible and something with which to take notes. Play-doh will be provided.
Offered in parternship with the Presbyterian Youth Workers’ Association (PYWA).

Presbyterians spend a lot of time and energy onboarding vocational and volunteer ministry leaders – we’re really good at training, credentialing, and orienting folks at the outset of their respective journeys. However, when it comes to “offboarding,” we don’t typically have much strategy or structure in place – which can leave our siblings adrift as they search for their new identity and purpose. In this workshop, we will help you think through the purpose, significance, and usefulness of ministry transitions. We’ll also walk through methods to help you ensure that leaders will “finish well.” (Spoiler Alert: It takes a LOT longer to do it well – and we need to start a LOT earlier – than you might think.)

In Hebrews 12 we read that faith is a lifelong race. Come explore the traditional meaning of the sacraments and how, putting those theological understandings into language children can understand, can create lifelong disciples. When adults and children understand that baptism is our “saying yes” to the race, the Lord’s Supper is the water stations along the way, and the race itself is our struggle to bring justice, inclusion, reconciliation, and hope to the world. We will unpack the theology around the sacraments, explore the meaning and purpose of our Christian call as a group, and collaborate on ways to talk about the sacraments with children.

What would it look like to live in a world where children were able to experience fullness of life in the here-and-now? Drawing on practical work starting the “Children’s Garden Collective” in Hamilton, Ontario, I will offer insights into what it looks like to minister with children in the context of an urban garden. Gardening as a spiritual practice with children not only increases their resilience potential, but also lays the groundwork for a robust spirituality which might continue into adulthood. This workshop will consider psychological resilience and children’s spirituality in the context of the garden. Additionally, it will cover how food insecurity in urban communities threatens child well-being and calls for the church’s response. This interactive workshop will bring together theoretical insights rooted in real ministry practice and teach others to use gardening as a spiritual practice with children. Participants will come away with the tools necessary to start children’s gardens in their own ministry contexts and the insights to promote outdoor children’s ministry as a sustainable opportunity for local churches to connect with their communities and the planet.

Are you thirsty for time for your soul? Are you seeking space and time to prepare your heart and your hands for leading others through the season of Lent? Then come participate in an interactive art experience. Visio Divina is a spiritual practice of sacred seeing. It invites us to see with our hands, our eyes, and our spirits what God is saying to us, what God invites us to be doing in this world. Our souls are quenched, our thirsts are satisfied when we spend time with biblical texts, engaging texts with our heads, our hearts and our creative spirits. In this workshop you’ll have a chance to sit with and respond to psalms that are read during the five weeks of Lent. Each psalm will be engaged using a variety of materials including fiber, paper, paint, beading, stitching, and simple weaving. Yes, you should come if your soul is parched. Yes, you should come if your soul needs nourishment so you can nourish others during Lent. Yes, you should come if getting messy and creative with art is what you love. Yes, you should come if you are terrified of engaging in media with which you are not familiar. Come and be refreshed!

We all thirst to be closer to God. One way to satisfy this thirst is to find ways that connect us to God through spiritual practices that we enjoy doing. Spirituality Centers are wonderful at retreats, APCE Conferences, and other special settings. But, we do not always have a Spirituality Center in our church. They do not have to be a huge expense or elaborate – they just need to be meaningful. This workshop will allow participants to learn a few simple exercises that can be used in your ministry setting. Instructions for a variety of centers for your own ministry will be included. Following this workshop, you will be equipped to return home and set up a Spirituality Center for your congregation to experience. Come prepared to experience new ways to quench your spiritual thirst for you and your ministry.

The Assoication of United Church Educators (AUCE) Board of Directors will share projections of upcoming trends in faith formation. The AUCE Board has been tracking community (as faith formation), inter-generational practices, and increasing call for lay training, because these have growing trends in the UCC; these will likely be keystones. After sharing reflections from AUCE Board members, we’ll facilitate a forum.

We’re gathering in-person again, but as we move further away from the pandemic, do our gatherings feel different? Should they feel different, or is getting together like we used to the goal? In her book, The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters, Priya Parker challenges us to reconsider the whys and hows of getting people together. While not written specifically for church leaders, Parker has much to offer us as we invite people to deepen their relationships with Christ and with others. If you are thirsty for gathering that matters, and if you’re responsible for gathering people who matter, join us as we apply Parker’s work to our own contexts. While not required, participants who have read Parker’s book before the Annual Event will get the most out of our time together.

We are all seeking a place to belong and be seen fully and authentically. Too often, church workers are overwhelmed by the demands on their time and the complexities of working within an ever-changing social, political, and ecclesiastical landscape. Dr. Sarah Leer (she/her), an educator, former youth worker, and practical theologian will invite youth workers, educators, and pastors to engage in practical conversations of affirmation and belonging through the lens of abundance. We will discuss safe and brave spaces, LGBTQIA+ affirming terminology, and resources to affirm and celebrate LGBTQIA+ people in our midst. She will discuss ways adults can share power with youth and young adults with intentionality in order to increase belonging in faith communities. Sarah believes transformation comes from engaging discussion, creativity, collaboration, and vulnerability. She believes conferences like the APCE Annual Event provide rich opportunities for deep theological discussion and opportunities to learn together. This workshop will create a space to learn together while also equipping participants with tools/resources/frameworks to deepen/ express belonging in their spaces and institutions.

Running a successful youth ministry takes a lot of planning and organizing! There are forms, procedures, policies, and flyers needed for everything. What if all of that was right at your finger tips? We’ve created Youth Ministry in a Box: everything you need for a year of youth ministry. This workshop is designed to help you start your year off right: analyze what you already have and what you’re missing, then imagine how these tools can strengthen your ministry. We hope this will save you time, so you can focus on the relational aspects with your youth and families! You get to take home your “box” too!
Offered in partnership wwith the Presbyterian Youth Workers’ Association (PYWA).

Friday, January 26 – Workshop D
2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Come enjoy being a learner rather than the leader in an advanced Bible study of texts from the Gospel according to John. We will use various approaches of interpretation to delve deeper while also benefiting from engaging in contemplative practices and exploring various ways liturgy interprets scripture.
This Bible study continues through four workshop blocks and is designed with seasoned and retired educators/pastors in mind. If you choose this workshop track, you will sign-up for workshop 101 (A block), 301 (C block), 401 (D block), and 501 (E block).

One of the most important ways to understand your congregation is by its size. More important than theology or denomination, understanding the implications of your size has a direct bearing on your programming, your decision making, and your ministry. This workshop offers those in leadership the opportunity of both a more effectife and a more efficient ministry.

Do you need a boost of hope in your ministry or personal life? Come be filled with hope as Middle East Christian Educators reflect on the challenges of their ministries. Come be reminded of the place where Christianity was birthed and first shared with others. Come hear about life in the midst of economic collapse, wars and conflicts, social disruption, political chaos, and natural disasters. Come especially to hear how Christians in the Middle East continue to witness to the hope they find in Jesus Christ. You’ll hear from Rev. Najla Kassab (Director of Christian Education for the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL) and the President of the World Communion of Reformed Churches WCRC); Rev. Dr. Rima Nasrallah van Saane (Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at the Near School of Theology (NEST) in Beirut, Lebanon); and Rev. Mathilde Michael Sabbagh (Pastor of the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Al-Hassakeh, Syria). These Educators have led, and continue to lead, their communities with spiritual strength and grace through very difficult times. Their ministries influence people around the world, as well as their home communities. Through scriptural reflection, table conversation, and video visits with these three amazing women, participants will hear about ministry in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq and the hope that sustains our siblings in Christ in the region….hope that can also sustain you in your own ministry.

Looking for a guided time in the Spirituality Center? Join this year’s creator of the space for a conversation around how to set up and use spaces such as this.

Are you thirsty for innovative ways to enrich faith formation? Bring your thirst and explore easy ways to use digital media to enrich and enable storytelling. Digital storytelling combines the art of telling stories with a variety of multimedia. Using digital storytelling techniques allows students to tell stories in immersive ways with creative processes that stimulate imagination, allow for deep content processing and understanding, and serve as a form of communication that resonates with today’s learners. In this workshop, we will explore a variety of digital storytelling techniques that can be used with all ages of learners for faith formation in a variety of settings using basic apps and programs that are user-friendly. Particpants should bring an electronic device with them to the workshop (laptop, ipad, smartphone, etc.) to explore media options.

The central element of most churches’ lives and any gathering of Christians is our worship — praise and prayer, singing and celebrating, preaching and teaching. Unfortunately, it’s also the place where our habits and traditions can exclude people, especially people of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations. Additionally, people of color, people with disabilities, and those living at the intersections of those identities or experiences can experience disconnection and real pain in worship settings. Drawing on the workshop leaders’ experiences in both ministry and advocacy, this workshop will foster conversation about practical ways to make our worship more expansive and richer for all participants through language, music, and more.

Disparities in care at the end of life continue in the U.S. healthcare system, which historically has not served everyone fairly or equitably. Research demonstrates that these disparities in access to hospice, palliative care, and advance planning cause increased pain, suffering, and distress for people with serious advanced illnesses and their loved ones. Faith communities can be central advocates and resources for congregants encountering these disparities and inequalities. This workshop will review the current data showing disparities based on racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, and gender-identity demographic information and provide strategies for faith communities to provide a powerful witness in addressing these significant inequalities.
Offered in partnership with the Presbyterian Older Adult Ministries Network (POAMN).

Are your adult programs drying up? Are your existing classes failing to draw new members? Are your teachers coming from the same pool, year after year? Are your congregants thirsty for connection, but unable to find it through your existing offerings? In this interactive workshop, participants will use life cycle theory to identify the parched places, deep reservoirs, and springs of fresh water within their adult discipleship programs. We will then discuss strategies to nurture our groups through each season of life. Finally, we will address groups in crisis: when to walk away and when to dig a deeper well.

So much of the culture of playing games pits us against one another. What are those games where we can play together? Where players aren’t picked off one at a time watching others win their way to the top of the mountain? Are there games for those who aren’t as thrilled about running and jumping outside? Cliff is an avid gamer and an online nerd who enjoys fostering community and cooperation in gameplay over crushing one’s opponent. This workshop we will discuss the advent of co-operative gaming as a group building and nurturing activity. He will introduce a number of cooperative games for participants to consider for their group as well as for their own enjoyment. There will be a number of them set up for play as an interactive experience in the second half of the workshop. Board games, Card Games, Video Games, Role Playing Games, and even a StarShip Simulator will be on hand to be shown and experienced. Come find out why Monopoly really isn’t that great and about a whole new possibility of playing TOGETHER rather than against each other.

This workshop will present effective practices, approaches, and models of family and  intergenerational (all ages) faith formation that emerged from a 2023 national survey of Christian churches. This is a “how-to” workshop that provides practical guidance for creating, enhancing, and implementing family and intergenerational faith formation in your church.

Many of us are discovering the old Sunday School model no longer works for our families with children. They have an hour to attend worship, and they may struggle with having their kids in the sanctuary. Sacred Art Time offers an alternative to traditional Sunday School. It integrates children’s experiences in worship services with opportunities to use art to explore and deepen faith formation. We will share the ways that Sacred Art Time along with Time With Young Disciples can be used to form faith, build community, explore and offer our God-given gifts to the church–all during and within the worship service structure.

Putting rubber stamp to ink and paper began as a hobby, became a ministry, and morphed into a spiritual practice. I began making cards for folks as a hobby, an outlet for creativity and personal enjoyment. Then I began a card ministry, making and sending cards for shut-ins and birthdays. It became a spiritual practice when I found myself praying specifically for the person who would receive that card. Participants in this workshop will make two completed cards. We will consider the ministry to those who receive the cards and the spiritual practice of praying experienced by those making and sending cards.

Fee $12

When three long-time church educators agreed to work on the Holy Spirit section of Opening Doors to Discipleship, they had no idea the adventure the Spirit would take them on. From the waters of thirst to the fire of inspiration, we invite you to join us on that adventure by first exploring the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. This exploration will then inform the Spirit’s work in the New Testament, the Church, and in our lives and education work today. Just be careful – you may become inspired, too!

Children are natural worshippers and enjoy engaging in spiritual practices alongside and with the support of the adults around them. Adults, as well, benefit from experiencing worship with children in the ways that Jesus recognized as he called the children to him. Intergenerational worship can be the water of life for everyone! But how can all ages mature in their faith together when each approaches worship from a different developmental stage? In this workshop, we will examine recent research on spiritual growth and its benefits from Dr. Lisa Miller, author of “The Spiritual Child.” Participants will learn how a culture of intergenerational, transformational worship and ministry can support the maturation of children and youth that will affect their journey into adolescence and adulthood in positive ways.

If you are ready to come play and laugh together and let your guard down and have some fun, come play with us. You will have fun and learn some tips and tricks for planning and leading in your context, as well as the theological framework for your planning and leading. Play and laughter open us up for the spirit to move. The spirit will be dancing with us in this class.

A story about Moses’ sister Miriam? A blue elephant’s transformation? A red coat or a red dress? What would a Vacation Bible School look like using Bible stories and children’s picture books? Flyaway Books embrace diversity, inclusivity, and compassion, exploring themes of social justice, emotions, character, and values. Focusing on Bible stories and faithful practices that arise from the themes of these children’s picture books we will present a framework for a VBS using common a VBS structure of stories, games, crafts, music, and snacks, as well as engage participants in the creative process to generate additional ideas.
Offered in partnership with the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC).

Sustaining ministries for a church in the throes of pastoral transition can be tricky, draining, and quite confusing. This workshop provides participants with a birds-eye view of the transitional process as it pertains to the Presbyterian Church (USA). Using real-life illustrations from congregations in transition, participants will learn the steps through which a church moves in conjunction with a presbytery, as well the steps through which pastors move as they are either departing or entering a congregation. With the understanding that long-term volunteers and support staff may be heavily relied upon by both transitional pastors and new pastors alike, this workshop is designed to offer such church leaders the space to ask questions, share from their experiences, and learn from experienced transitional pastors. This workshop hopes to acknowledge and empower the ministries of those on whom the congregation might lean the heaviest during transitional time, as well encourage and sustain their gifts and skills so that they as leaders (and the congregation as a whole) might thrive during the desert time of pastoral transition. This workshop also encourages clergy who might be considering a transition to participate and learn, as well. Time-allowing, this workshop will also introduce participants to the CLC system of the PC(USA) which is used for connecting churches who are searching to pastors who are seeking new calls.

The thought for this workshop is to explore ways two women have come to the well and have been sent away with assignments (Genesis 16:7 and John 4:7). The moments at the well have provided ways to quench thirst and to spread the good news of Jesus Christ in word, action, and deed. This workshop will call participants to explore their well moments with God and to uncover the potential assignment they may receive while at the well. The workshop will offer ways for personal spiritual growth and resources to use to equip congregants and clergy for personal spiritual growth.

How do we describe the “mission” of the church to our young people? When we go on the annual youth mission trip, what are we hoping to accomplish? Join Bill Buchanan, Executive Director of the non-profit ministry Youth Mission Co (YMCo), along with other YMCo staff, as we discuss together the role of mission immersion in Christian formation. This interactive workshop will include the history of Christian mission, the distinction between acts of charity and justice, and how we can help youth discern their calling to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.

Saturday, January 27 – Workshop E
9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.


Come enjoy being a learner rather than the leader in an advanced Bible study of texts from the Gospel according to John. We will use various approaches of interpretation to delve deeper while also benefiting from engaging in contemplative practices and exploring various ways liturgy interprets scripture.
This Bible study continues through four workshop blocks and is designed with seasoned and retired educators/pastors in mind. If you choose this workshop track, you will sign-up for workshop 101 (A block), 301 (C block), 401 (D block), and 501 (E block).

Come and explore the conference theme through different creative, artistic expressions. Each of the options can then be used to generate discussion about how we live into justice, life, kindness, and joy as a people of faith.

Come to the well with Jesus, Photina[1], the previously unnamed Samaritan woman, and other water-bearers to receive living water. In this workshop, caregivers Will Cameron and Liz Jennings offer you practices of neurodiverse writing, and exuberant worship, and will guide you in new perspectives for engaging mission and everyday service. Led by pastor and teacher, Kathryn Johnson Cameron and community advocate and public-school teacher, Judy Jennings, you will rediscover the ways of reaching across borders, healing wounds, and making connections modeled in John’s Gospel by Jesus and Photina. Draw on your unvoiced challenges and gifts and discover a new community. Draw from the well with Water Bearers Will Cameron and Liz Jennings, their moms, Kathryn and Judy, and other caregivers who share God’s living water. Will, who does not speak, offers you his neuro-graphic writing, immersion meditation, and daily water serving practices. Liz offers her mission hacks, her worship leadership, and her “do what you can when you can” theology. The leaders will share their experiences of kin-enabled, adaptively-communicated, and community-supported care with their exceptional adult children who live at home. As seekers and caregivers, we meet at the reservoir with strangers, family, school and community partners, and church folk, name our thirst, and share the spirit and truth of quenched life.
[1] Both the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches recognize Photina as the unnamed woman from John’s Gospel who meets Jesus at the well near Samaria.

What if I told you that thousands of parents DO value spiritual formation as a vital part of raising their children? You might laugh an exasperated chuckle and gesture around at the many families who are no longer coming to worship on Sunday morning. You might find it hard to believe. But when we talk to parents, not only do they value it, they feel responsible for it. When asked what they want churches to do, they say, “Empower us. Resource us. Support us.” Participants of this workshop will learn new tools for ministries to support families and empower parents/caregivers to answer the call of parenting.

Do you have an idea for a faith study you would like to lead but no curriculum already exists? Come learn about a process to transform your idea into the reality of a multi-week study or single lesson, which is reformed, multi-sensory, and engaging. Whether your original idea is from an existing book or film or is a nugget from a conversation or lecture, you can put together an excellent learning experience. This approach to creating a learning event from a germ of an idea is applicable whether you teach adults, youth, or children.

Many young parents struggle with worship when they have infants in tow. Worshiping with your infant grows your own faith and lays the foundation for forming the child’s faith. This workshop provides a Biblical foundation for infants being present in worship, offers a developmental basis for including infants in worship, defines the new vocation of parent as worship guide, and suggests practical ways worship planners and pastors can support parents in this new role.

Regardless of the age groups served by your ministry, getting away for a retreat is so important. The setting is an incredible place for fellowship and Christian education. This workshop will look at the logistics that go into planning a retreat for youth, adult, and intergenerational groups. The session includes tips on scheduling, structure, and programming (including free curriculum resources).
Offered in partnership with the Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association (PCCCA).

Is your congregation thirsting for justice? Do you find charity and mission easy and struggle to figure out how to add justice or advocacy? Are some in your congregation not sure politics belongs in church? Do you want to help build the beloved community but are not sure where to start? In this workshop participants will have the opportunity to name the mission work and charity their congregations participate in and explore how this work connects to larger issues in our communities. We will discuss ways congregations and groups can add advocacy to their existing work to amplify their love of their neighbors and bring about transformation in their communities. Participants will leave with practical next steps and resources to put prayers into action that can be done by children, teens, and adults! While public education advocacy in North Carolina will be one example, the principles and ideas shared will be useful for any topic your congregation may want to support in any location. We hope you will join us as we put prayer into action!

According to Scripture, the earth and its members belong to God. We are called to care for creation, not only because God loves it, but also because a healthy creation supports human well-being. While the biblical writers knew nothing of modern forms of environmental degradation, they did express deeply held views about social justice and even land justice. Humans are part of creation, and what impacts creation impacts us, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. Explore these themes of the 2024–2025 Presbyterian Women/Horizons Bible study on Environmental Justice with author Patricia K. Tull and editor Betsy Ensign-George. The study encompasses justice regarding land, food, water, and air, as well as climate change, environmental justice for future generations, and visions of a sustainable future. Everyone will leave the workshop with resources to lead others in the study.

Pat Baker (POAMN) and Renda Brinson (APCE) co-produced the Care-Partner Toolkit with the contributions of other experts in the field of caregiving. Included in this Toolkit are numerous Quicksheets with information, ideas, and resource links that will assist individuals in the role of care partner and help faith communities in supporting them. During the workshop, we’ll walk participants through the Toolkit and explain the different parts and how they can be utilized with a congregation.  Our hope is that by doing this people will be equipped to go home and use this tool!
Offered in partnership with the Presbyterian Older Adult Ministry Network (POAMN).

This workshop will engage our Biblical imaginations through the creative lens of “The Promise,” a new intergenerational musical. Based on the stories of Genesis 12-25, “The Promise” tells the story of God’s call and promises to Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, and their children, Ishmael and Isaac. Using excerpts of script and songs, we will imagine the characters’ perspectives as they respond to God’s call and seek God’s promise to “bless all the families of the earth.” We follow the family’s journeys toward the blessing: into faith and doubt, famine and fruitfulness, thirst and life-giving water, cries and laughter, oppression and freedom. Along the way, we see a family who is tested and broken. Can this family be restored and dwell together? Diving into this family’s story encourages us to seek God’s blessings for our global family tree and journey toward God’s promise that all families and faiths of the earth might live in reconciliation.” Laura Jernigan, the composer/lyricist/ book writer, who is also a Presbyterian minister and educator, will provide an overview of the musical and share the inspiration behind her own reimagining of this story, with reference to varied Biblical interpretations as well as Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions. Calling for a small cast of adults, youth, and children, “The Promise” offers an exciting performance and educational opportunity for your church or interfaith setting. Come explore “The Promise” and journey toward God’s blessing together.

This workshop will present a theology and practice of children’s sermons. The goal is to give worship leaders concrete skills, supported by a theoretical understanding of the role of the children’s sermon in worship. We will discuss why object lessons so often fall short of their goal and present an argument instead for telling the stories of our faith to the children (and adults) of our congregations.

What if we used practical principles of brain research to help us create, devise, and adapt our faith formation ministries? By looking at the twelve guiding principles identified by brain researcher John Medina in his book Brain Rules, this workshop will dare to dream what faith formation experiences could look like if we applied those practical principles in our faith formation ministries such as educational classes (children, youth, and adults), Bible studies, youth group activities, and even worship. This is a workshop of the imagination and what could be.

“Come, all who are thirsty” to the Living Water found in the Living Word of God. Devotionals rooted in God’s Word help satisfy our thirsty souls and offer opportunities for us to engage with God through personal worship. Writing devotionals for others deepens our faith and relationship with God. Devotional writing is one form of spiritual writing. In this workshop, you will learn about devotional writing, how it differs from other spiritual writing, and why it is important for believers to write. You will learn the importance of the centrality of Scripture in devotional writing, and how to practically write a devotional that will encourage others through the application of Scripture. You also will help new believers grow in faith and provide Living Water for those who are thirsty. Plus, devotional publishers are always looking for new contributors. You may become one of them! Previous writing experience is not required. Anyone who has a heart to share God’s Word with others is welcome to attend.