The Words of the Jenkins Family
Second National Educators Conference
November 17, 2003
Here is a report on the Educators Conference held at UTS at the beginning of November. The conference had representation from our Regional and State educational programs - from Sunday School to Youth Ministry to Second Generation and Adult education as well as Unification based schools in America from K - 12 as well as our institutions of higher learning. We sincerely thank Dr. Tyler Hendricks, Dr. Kathy Winnings, Mr. Tony Devine and Rev. Brian Sabourin and all our educators for developing and nurturing this most essential area of the advancement of our movement. Dr. Yang also addressed the body. Both Dr. Yang and I are deeply pleased that, although the providence and journey of the Fourth Israel is so pressing, these outstanding Unificationists feel the same "providential" urgency to enhance and develop the education of the chosen people so that they can continue to succeed on the road of God's will.
Rev. Michael Jenkins
2nd National Educators Conference
"Strengthening Our Networks, Affirming Our Commitment to Education"
October 31 – November 2, 2003
Unification Theological Seminary, Barrytown, NY
In reality, this conference began, last November 2002 as soon as the 1st National Education Conference ended. It began with the participants returning to their homes and communities and then implementing what was learned and shared at that conference. Throughout this year, their feedback, commitment, and vision have fueled the planning process for the 2nd National Education Conference, which was held at the Unification Theological Seminary from October 31st to November 2, 2003. Over 115 educators from across the United States as a well as one from South America, and representing a variety of ministries and fields participated.
The program began with two all-day pre-conference intensive workshops – one in children’s ministry (taught by Rev. Brian Sabourin) and one in youth ministry (taught by Dr. Kathy Winings). Through both workshops, participants studied, learned, discussed and shared. They were able to continue their journey to becoming professional religious educators. Sunday School teachers examined the vital areas of: the fundamentals of faith in children’s ministry; creating a program in which children learn to love God with all their hearts, hands and minds – creative teaching methods; what constitutes age appropriate education for children; and they looked at new resources and more effective lesson planning for children’s ministry.
In youth ministry, participants considered: the world of today’s teen, the challenges of development; creating an intentional ministry starting with strong program objectives; teaching teens effectively and going beyond the classroom to reach teenagers creatively and energetically.
Opening and Closing Plenary
The main conference opened with a terrific ice breaker by Brian Sabourin and Tony Devine oriented the attendees to the conference highlights that ended with a poignant quote from Father on the heart of being an educator.
During the Hoon Dok Hae on Saturday morning, Dr. Chang Shik Yang connected participants to the current focus in the providence and his recent experiences with True Parents. In the conference opening plenary, Dr. Yang supported the educator’s conference and its goals, and reiterated how important education is to True Father and to the future of our movement. He concluded by affirming that the ultimate aim of education to realize the goal of becoming a true son and daughter of God. Dr. Hendricks explained that UTS anchors a network of alumni across the states and around the world, many of whom are educators and that UTS is well-suited as a cross-departmental home for a Center for Education. Tony Devine reminded everyone that parents are the primary educator of our children and that the task of educators is to support that role by actively engaging parents in the variety of educational programs offered locally.
In the closing plenary, Dr. Winings advised participants to join the Religious Education Association (REA), an organization committed to quality religious education in churches and schools. She encouraged a strong home-centered and church-supported system of education as well as an effective adult education based on adult learning concepts and theories as well as adult issues, questions and needs.
This year there were a total of 15 separate breakout sessions organized under five themes – Children’s Ministry; Youth Ministry; Young Adult Ministry; Family and Schooling. There were offered in three tracks of five sessions from which participants could choose. In looking at each of the 5 themes as a whole unit, it was clear that there was progression and development in each breakout. In Children’s Ministry, the day started with a full plate of ideas and inspiration stemming from years of experience in Laura Nabetani’s session on how to "Get Started in Children’s Ministry." For those fortunate to attend, they were treated to a wonderful. It was only natural then to take Children’s Ministry one step further to "Designing Effective Lessons" with the help of Rev. Brian Sabourin. This session, together with the final session in Children’s Ministry on "Active Learning: Experiencing God in Children’s Ministry," taught by Dr. Kathy Winings, allowed participants to strengthen their skills in lesson development and a teaching methodology that emphasized whole body teaching, games, and activities.
Youth Ministry likewise had a similar format beginning with "Help, I’m Responsible for Youth Ministry! What do I do?" In that session, Dr. Winings encouraged participants to examine 10 steps to an effective ministry. It set the stage for a look at how to "Engage Our Youth in Service Learning" where participants learned about the basics in utilizing service learning in our own ministries. Mr. Tony Devine and Ms. Lillie Kirkley addressed what to do and what not to do in involving youth in service learning projects, provided a list of key elements of effective programs and this was informed by the best practice of the Bridgeport, CT, Summer of Service program as well as the experience of the Service for Peace club at the University of Bridgeport.
We added a new theme this year with Young Adult Ministry, and it proved to be a wise choice. The morning began with a look at "Outreach: Discussing Current Issues and Exploring Effective Models." This was a good area of exploration as participants talked about witnessing by young adults naturally. Rev. Sabourin raised key concerns of youth in this area. From there, participants then had the opportunity to consider how we can "Engage Young Adults in Their Faith Stories." Through that session, led by Dr. Winings, mentoring, small group ministry, creative programming and creating a space for our young adults in the church community to support their transition to adulthood were all considered. Finally, this theme was taken a step further with the topic of "Enabling Young Adults for an Active Faith" represented by CARP and STF. Mr. Joshua Cotter and Mr. Gregg Jones were able to share how CARP has developed an experiential education program to support our young adults in living their faith consistently and joyfully.
What about Family Ministry? This theme began with the integration of character education and spirituality education and understanding the way to develop children and youth of good moral character in the home as well as the community. In this interactive session, Tony Devine addressed the numerous opportunities that exist to teach for and nurture good character in diverse contexts. Participants were then treated to the re-emergence of the Blessed Family Association (BFA) and its role in family education. Clearly a topic that reflects the concerns of our church community. The hope and vision of this revived association was shared by Mr. Chad Hoover who further brought out possible in-reach and outreach services of the BFA. Mr. John Williams then concluded this theme with how to "Prepare Youth and Support Them in Arranged Marriages." Again, a timely topic considering the recent blessing this summer as he brought out practical ways to prepare our youth for arranged marriages as well as new support for this type of marriage within our culture today.
Finally, we come to our last theme – Schooling and Home Schooling. Two parents from New Jersey, Pam Moffat and Jeff Kingsley gave participants an overview of home-schooling and offered a timely handout with web-based resources in the field – a rich nuts and bolts type of session. Building on the previous session, we were able to look at the types of questions that our own children ask us concerning the real scoop on purity and how to respond to them in the context of the school of love – the home. Again provided by an excellent resource in the field, John Williams. Finally, Christl Brunkhorst guided participants in a discussion of "Administering a Faith-Based School or Day-Care Program" that provided a look at issues of funding, leadership and personnel.
Best Practice Rotation
After a wonderful dinner, the day ended with one planned session and one spontaneous optional session. The planned session focused on a best practices rotation. These five sessions, in which participants could attend two, highlighted real situations, real ministries, and stories of real experiences in children’s ministry, youth ministry, young adult ministry and schools plus a session on camps and retreats. The panels provided diversity of experience and approach as well as real questions, real issues and possible answers surrounding those themes. Effort was made to give participants the maximum amount of time to discuss, share and ask hard questions.
The spontaneous session, the brainchild of some first and second generation participants, featured a panel of second generation budding teachers and ministers presenting their experiences as being on the receiving end of our church’s educational programs. An excellent session, it demonstrated a clear coming together of both generations in dialogue about future programs.
On Sunday, the final day after an inspiring and refreshing Hoon Dok Hae where we could renew our own soul, participants were offered another new feature of the conference – Poster Sessions. With continental breakfast in hand, participants visited a wide array of booths in which fellow participants shared their particular projects, educational programs, or ministries. The sessions featured the international school in Brazil, PowerPoint series of lessons for 3rd grade Sunday School classes, the innovative Roots & Wings program from Northern California, methods of personal financing, and LEAD – a youth leadership innovation.
From there, we had the opportunity to meet in one of five Action Committees. They were: Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry, Young Adult Ministry, Camps, and Family Ministry/BFA. Each committee was tasked with choosing a leader, defining the basics of its work, and developing a plan of what actions it would take from now with a supporting timeline indicating when these actions were to be accomplished.
The Action Committees are the real means through which a great deal of work, study, and insight can be developed. Participants are challenged to take their work to another level through contributing to these committees.
Based on their brief time together, the committees decided the following: Children’s Ministry – review the current curriculum and revise it where necessary, and then draw together good lesson plans and activities from teachers in our Sunday Schools targeting spring as its deadline for such a revised curriculum. Youth Ministry – identify effective teachers in youth ministry and consider professionalism in teaching through a certification process. Young Adult Ministry – develop a pilot seminar in skills development for marriage and relationship-building to be offered in Northern California by early spring as preparation for wider dissemination. Family Ministry – challenge families to find two other families to form a trinity for greater support and encouragement of blessed family life. Camps – develop a leadership training program for camp counselors who then can work in multiple camps across the country; continue to co-ordinate the scheduling of camps.
Resource Fair and Networking
Throughout the weekend there was a resource fair where the best educational materials developed by our teachers and educators throughout the country, including professionally developed resources. All of the educators present truly valued the opportunity to network and discover what each was doing in their respective areas of education and learn from one another. All participants were given a contact sheet to network with each other directly and better support one another following the conference.
The dates for the 3rd National Educators Conference were announced, which will be Friday to Sunday, October 22-24, 2004. Also announced was the intention to create a Center for Education that will be a source of professional development as well as a clearinghouse for ideas and resources. This will be housed at UTS, which also serves as the site for the annual conference. Some immediate tasks for the Education Institute include (1) maintaining communication with the Action Committee chairs (2) planning the 3rd National Education Conference, and (3) the development of a website.
Every participant expressed their gratitude for this unique opportunity to come together as educators with the goal to continuously improve their ongoing efforts and each left with new inspiration, new ideas and wanting to give more.
We would like to thank all of the presenters, panelists, our host UTS, In Soo Kim and the 2nd Generation Dept., our committee members, the educators who traveled far and wide to attend, for their total investment to make this conference a success. Most of all, we all want to thank True Parents and Hyun Jin Nim for the inspiration to gather and unite as educators and in giving a strong root to the effort of educating future generations.
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