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Faith & Worship

Holy Trinity hosts ‘Growing in Christ’ conference

8/14/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Pam Lifke

Participants learn to model faith for next generation

The “Growing in Christ” conference will open Sept. 5 with a youth rally for middle and high school students lead by brothers Dean and Swen, shown above from left.
Photo courtesy of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in September will host its first “Growing in Christ” conference to better equip Christians of all denominations to model their faith for the next generation.

The Sept. 5-6 conference is the outgrowth of a long-running discussion in the church community about effectively raising the next generation of Christians, said the Rev. David Nevergall, senior pastor of Holy Trinity. Although it’s not necessarily a new idea, it is “picking up steam,” Nevergall said.

“The shift in our own culture calls for a conference like this,” he said. “It used to be you could do Sunday school and youth classes and people would get the ‘head knowledge’ they need to know what Christian faith is all about. The rest of what it meant to be Christian was found in a culture that shared those values. That’s not true anymore.”

Nevergall said the conference grew from the idea that Christian education needs to change from a classroom model to a disciple model, making it very intergenerational and experiential. Parents and grandparents must be better equipped to model their faith for the next generation, he added.

“We are pleased to offer this conference to area churches of all denominations, as well as to our members and friends,” said Nevergall. “We know that it can be difficult to pass along the faith to our children and youth in a world that is often dismissive of or even hostile to the Christian message. We believe that this conference will offer learning opportunities and ideas on how we can all work together to be better equipped for the task of apprenticing our young people into faithful maturity.”

Nevergall stressed the event is not a professional conference.

“Folks need to know it’s open to all ... parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles — it’s geared toward anyone who is in a position to shape the faith of another,” he said. “We’re excited about this event. It’s good stuff.”

Nevergall said he hopes people get revved up for the opportunity and impact they can have on the life of another person.

“Christian ministry is a great privilege. We have the best news in the world. We’re hoping to teach people to share it better,” Nevergall said.

The conference will open Sept. 5 with an address by Gary Pecuch, director of youth and family ministry at St. John Lutheran Church in Grove City, on Outcome-based Youth Ministry and a youth rally for middle and high school students lead by brothers Swen and Dean Swenson. Youth leaders, pastors and church workers registered for the conference may bring their youth groups to the Friday night rally and pizza party for free, according to church officials.

The Swensons use music and humor to connect with their audiences. Both work in youth and family ministry in Minnesota churches.

“They have great stories to tell and they’re a lot of fun. They will bring great energy for this conference,” Nevergall said.

On Sept. 6, the conference will continue with an address by Pecuch on Faith Webbing followed by workshops of the participant’s choice. Participants can choose two workshops from topics that include: Equipping a Family for Faith, with information about how parents and other adults can lead, model and nurture a growing faith in the home; Carving Out Sabbath Space, with strategies for making time in busy lives to rest, refresh and reconnect with God; Effective Small Group Ministry, with advice on how to develop and grow a variety of small groups within a congregation; and Websites, Podcasts and Other Online Faith Resources, a guide to finding the best online information and resources for nurturing faith in the family.

Participants also can choose among six “Serving-Learning” projects to be completed in the afternoon. Projects include volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House, Family Promise or Harvest home; cleaning up Grace Park; preparing “Blessing Bags” to share with those in need; or singing as part of a touring choir at several area nursing homes, organizers said.

Free all-day child care or day camp is available for children and grandchildren of registrants, organizers said. Infants through age 12 are welcome. Although there is no charge, participants must complete a registration form for each child.

The conference wraps up with dinner and a concert from Swen and Dean.

The conference will be held at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 50 N. Prospect St. Preregistration is $20 for adults and youth ages 13 and older. Register online through Aug. 25 at www.holytrinityakron.org. Mail-in registration must be received by Aug. 22. Mail-in registration forms can be found online by clicking the “brochure” button under “additional information” for the conference. On-site registration is $30 if space is available.

Registration includes all conference materials, the Saturday concert by Swen and Dean, snacks and lunch and dinner on Saturday.

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