Devotions by Young Adults for Young Adults
Young People’s Ministries has collected devotions by a group of talented Young Adult authors. Use them in your Young Adult ministry, to discuss with friends, or for your own personal study. You’ll find views and thoughts from people around the world that can help you grow your faith.
If you are interested in helping young adults grow in their faith by writing about your experiences, we are always accepting applications for new contributors. Email John for more information.
Current Contributor: Sara Palm
Sara is a musical theatre aficionado, reader of British sci-fi comedy, watcher of great (and not so great) cinema, world traveler, and an avid fan of baseball, especially her beloved Baltimore Orioles!
She also participates in the Center for Youth Ministry Training’s (CYMT) graduate residency program and is completing her Master of Arts in Youth Ministry from Memphis Theological Seminary. Through this program she is contracted as the Director of Youth Ministry for First United Methodist Church Covington Tennessee, about 30 miles north of Memphis. Sara is completing her fifth year of professional youth ministry, which started in St Louis, MO where she also worked with students who spoke languages other than English.
Sara has two awesome sons who are 10 and 5. Recently, she married another youth minister and she and her husband are excited to share their love of God, youth, the United Methodist Church, and of course, baseball!
Dorothy Angeles is a 19-year old worship leader at Sta. Ana United Methodist Church and also a member South Bulacan District Prayer and Worship Team, both in the Philippines. Dorothy found her first calling to ministry as a young tambourine dancer. Since then, she has become a guitarist and lay servant in her local church. She loves to organize events as program director in the Happy Friends Fellowship, a mission area located at Sta. Maria, Bulacan, and in other local church, district-wide and even national events. Her love of writing led her to be a part of her campus publications from grade school to her first year in College. She is hoping to publish a book in the near future. She is also hoping that she can provide a house and lot, and a car for her family.
Three months before her high school graduation, Dorothy’s mother died from cancer — that painful experience made her stronger and, on April 7th of this year, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Management. Dorothy accepted Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior after a failed and untimely relationship. As she bounced back higher, she committed herself to disciple others for God’s glory. Her church mates often think about her when they hear Proverbs 4:23, which says, “Above all else, guard your heart for out of it flows the actions of life,” because she is so fond of using that verse, especially they talk about their love lives.
Monique Criddell Hoskins, 33, originally from Houston, lives in Waco, Texas. Monique moved to Waco in 2008 to pursue a her Masters in Divinity with a concentration in Youth and Family Ministry from G.W. Truett Seminary at Baylor University which she earned in May 2012. As a seminary student, Monique had the opportunity to serve as a chaplain for 300 freshmen girls at Baylor University. It was during this time, living and serving in a residence hall, that her love for young adults grew. Monique loves the rich journey that comes along with being an adolescent/young adult. She believes that both Biblical and global history attest to the untamed vision and potential of young people and Monique believes that great things will manifest when these are lined up with God’s call.
While in seminary, Monique met her husband, James, also a Truett graduate. They married in 2013 and have a baby girl named Madeline and one on the way. Monique currently works as a Success Coach at a community college in Waco. She sees her role there as similar to her role as a chaplain, guiding young adults and sharing God with people who may never claim Christianity or ever enter a church. Additionally, Monique loves to write, sing, and laugh and laugh some more. She is very close to her family and is discovering God all over again through her new role as a mother.
Collins Etchi Ako
Collins Etchi Ako has been affiliated with the Cameroon Mission Initiative of the United Methodist Church since its creation in February 2002. Collins is married to best friend and former youth and young adult ministries colleague, Anne Greta. Anne is a Primary School Teacher and Child Psychologist from the Government Teachers Training College of Yaounde- Cameroon. They have three lovely kids; Logy, Nina and Uriel.
Born 33 years ago in a remote village (Mundemba), in the South West Region of Cameroon, Collins grew up in Buea and finally moved to the city capital after becoming an orphan at a very tender age. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology and Religious Sciences from the Protestant University of Central Africa. Collins is presently finishing a double Masters Degree in Peace and Development (Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution) / Theology and Religious Sciences (World Religions and Interfaith Dialogue) at the Protestant University of Central Africa. His other domain of education is Political Sciences with special focus in international relations.
Last year, Collins began the candidacy process for ordination in the United Methodist. He is presently serving as an intern with Blessing United Methodist Church, Simbock-Yaounde, in the Cameroon Mission Initiative of the United Methodist Church. Collins leads liturgy and preaches regularly during Sunday services and other church programs. He also serves the Church in Cameroon as the National Youth and Young Adult President for the Cameroon Mission Initiative. Collins is also a very talented interpreter and translator for French and English. He has been responsible for the conception and implementation of different youth and young adult leadership programs, health and community development programs for the church in Cameroon. In 2014, he served as Chair Person for the planning team of the Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly of the United Methodist Church in Tagaytay-Philipines. Collins has written devotionals for the Youth and Young Adult Blog of the World Methodist Council and other Christian programs/organizations. He is also the Youth and Young Adult Coordinator for the John Wesley Foundation of Cameroon.
Collins aspires to merge his education in Theology and Religious Sciences, Peace and Development, International Cooperation and Humanitarian Action and his passion for youth and young adult ministries, to become a multidisciplinary Youth and Young Adult Advocate and Resource Person for the global church. When not in academia, Collins does Shotokan Karate, plays soccer and sings for La Grand Chorale of the Protestant University of Central Africa where he also serves as president
Aga Fatrick Sta. Ana
Aga Fatrick Sta. Ana is one of three children of Rev. Francis Sta. Ana (of the United Methodist Church) and Florencia Robles Garcia-Sta. Ana. Growing up practically in the church, he later on became a musician and a preacher at the same time.
He studied Music Theory and Composition at the University of the Philippines and is currently finishing Communication Arts at Baliuag University. Studying at the same time, he is blessed to have grown a business of land titling services. Also, he practices being a paralegal to his sister who is a lawyer and to his other friends who are also lawyers. He loves writing, watching movies, playing the piano, and eating.
At present, he is the musical director of Taal United Methodist Church in Bocaue, Bulacan, Philippines and a volunteer worker of Revolution, the youth ministry of Happyfriends Mission, Inc., a religious institution initiated and supported by a Korean Methodist Church. On top of all these, he is single and busy being “the one” for someone that God has already planned for him.
Rev. Ashley Fitzpatrick Jenkins is passionate about spiritual formation, missions, painting, and food. She currently serves as Associate Pastor working with Young Adults and Singles at Dunwoody United Methodist Church in Dunwoody, Georgia. Ashley also volunteers as the Young Adult President for the North Georgia Conference where she helps connect young adults to missions, all generations of the church, and to spiritual formation. Ashley has also worked as an advocate for displaced children, having served as an individual Volunteer in Mission and active fundraiser for the Lord’s Mountain Orphanage in Zambezi, Zambia. In her spare time Ashley loves to paint as a spiritual practice and go to tasty restaurants. Ashley recently married Trey Jenkins who is a clinical pharmacist.
Trevor Warren, 19, is a sophomore at the Jesuit-run Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL, where he is double majoring in Theology and Digital Video Production. Born and raised in Texarkana, TX, Trevor Warren comes from a long line of active Methodist laity and even clergy, spanning back all the way to the first Methodist society in Virginia over 200 years ago. At age 13, Trevor began to feel the call to ministry, but did not know exactly what that call entailed. It wasn’t until he heard the Rev. Adam Hamilton speak at the Texas Annual Conference about the state of the UMC and reaching those that have been turned away from the Church that Trevor fully understood what God was calling him to do in his life, which was to become a United Methodist pastor.
In 2011-2012, Trevor served as the Texas Annual Conference’s Youth Council President, even after moving to Mobile, AL that same year. In the Summer of 2012, Trevor attended the Duke Youth Academy and later attended the South Central Jurisdictional Conference as a youth observer. This past summer, Trevor had the joy of working as a college pastoral ministry intern for the Texas Annual Conference at St. John’s UMC in Houston, TX with Pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.
Recently, Trevor began the candidacy process for the United Methodist ordination process and hopes to become certified by the year’s end. After college, Trevor hopes to attend Duke Divinity School for seminary and then return to the Texas Annual Conference to begin his ministry as a pastor. Currently, Trevor is serving as new Director of Youth Ministries at Dauphin Island UMC on Dauphin Island, AL and hopes to not only help strengthen the faith of the youth there, but also his own through this experience. Trevor enjoys filmmaking, reading, studying theology, preaching, going to the beach, and binge watching Netflix.
Audrey Morrow, 25, has been affiliated with the Memphis Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church since her father began pastoring in the United Methodist Church over 17 years ago. She grew up in Mississippi and Tennessee, and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Washington University in St. Louis, where she graduated with a major in Educational Studies and a double minor in Philosophy and Political Science.
Audrey is a former middle school math teacher, and currently serves as the Director of Youth Ministry at Capleville United Methodist Church where she teaches youth bible study at Golden Gate Cathedral in Memphis, Tennessee. She is also pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Youth Ministry at Memphis Theological Seminary. She continues to stay involved in public schools by tutoring math students at Capleville UMC’s partner middle school.
Audrey aspires to merge her education, vocation, and call to ministry to become a curriculum writer for youth and young adults, as well as develop youth and young adult leadership programs focused on the concept of Missio Dei. In her spare time, she likes to study the Bible, travel, spend time with family, cook, crochet, and watch action-thrillers and Netflix documentaries.
Rev. Elizabeth Murray serves as the Director of Hispanic Ministries at Mount Hebron United Methodist Church in West Columbia, South Carolina. Her appointment is both at Mount Hebron UMC and through the Office of Congregational Development of the South Carolina Annual Conference. A native of Johns Creek, GA, Elizabeth graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Business Administration and Duke Divinity School with a Master of Divinity. She is a Provisional Deacon in the South Carolina Annual Conference. She has experience in local church ministry, Hispanic/Latino ministry, and social justice and advocacy work in Washington, DC on the general church level.
Elizabeth enjoys traveling to Latin America, reading, South Carolina Gamecock sports, and social media. She has a passion for social justice and community development.
Katherine, 24, is an alumna of the University of Florida (Go Gators!) with a B.A. in Anthropology, and is currently pursuing her M.S. in Health Education and Behavior. Her areas of interest are sexual and reproductive health, self-esteem, religion and health behavior, and LGBT health. She also works as a staff member for a United Methodist youth ministry, and still can’t believe she’s getting paid to have this much fun.
Eventually she hopes to work in sexual and reproductive health education, particularly for women in underserved areas and developing nations. She is passionate about helping girls and women feel happy, healthy, safe, and in control of their own bodies.
When she’s not at school, work, or church (time which she is not sure actually exists) Katherine likes to take long naps, drink way too much coffee, and go on adventures with her dog.
Hi, I’m Ti Chitsinde. I’m 25 and a member of Hatfield United Methodist Church in Harare, Zimbabwe. I’m a legal practitioner, but my interest lies in strategy and advisory and it is my goal to move into the corporate sector permanently. I’m looking forward to entering into the financial services sector or into media in the near future with God’s grace.
Music is my passion, and that is my first calling in the Lord’s house. I am a member of our Church choir, the Youth Choir, Praise and Worship team and the men’s Ministry choir. I also help direct the Children and Women’s Ministries choirs. I was part of the 1000 Voices choir at the just completed Ebenezer Convention of the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area. Besides music, I help out with Sunday School classes, sit on the Worship and Communications committees, and am a Section/Class Leader.
Outside of Church and work, I love watching sports, particularly, cricket, rugby, motorsport and basketball. Every excuse to bask in the glorious African sun is duly leapt upon.
Kyle Wyman, 24, is a graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. He also graduated from Temple University with a B.A. in English and Religion in May 2011. Kyle is a certified candidate for ordained ministry in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, but will be taking a few years before pursuing ordination as an Elder. Kyle is currently discerning God’s vocation in his life and where he is called to serve God and God’s people. As he wanders in his vocational journey, he knows that one who wanders is not always lost and trusts in God’s love.
Kyle enjoys reading, writing, running and meditation. He is also an avid movie-watcher and enjoys films from any genre.
Alyssa Gillespie, 24, grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma. It was there that she first got involved in the church, and began to explore a calling into ministry. After high school, Alyssa attended the United Methodist affiliated school, Oklahoma City University. During her time there, she learned a lot about God, ministry, the church, and herself. In 2012, Alyssa graduated from Oklahoma City University with a Bachelor of Arts in Religion. In June of 2012, Alyssa married her husband, Kyle, and moved to Huntsville, Alabama where they now reside with their two dogs, Palmer and Bella.
While still in the process of discerning her call into ministry, Alyssa has been fortunate to be a part of a passionate and nurturing congregation at CrossWinds United Methodist Church. Through their love and support she has been given many opportunities to develop her leadership skills and explore her calling in a welcoming environment. In September of 2013, she was blessed to be a part of a new thing God was doing in her community as CrossWinds UMC launched a new campus in Madison, Alabama where she is now the children’s director. When not serving and working for the church, Alyssa enjoys taking walks, going to concerts, and having adventures with friends and family. You can find Alyssa on Twitter at @AM_Gillespie.
Holli is a young adult United Methodist and an active member of Plainfield United Methodist Church in the Chicago Suburbs. She is a semi-recent graduate of the University of Michigan (2003) with a B.A. in English and is a former high school teacher.
Currently, Holli is a stay-at-home mom to twin toddlers by day and a Chicago Theological Seminary student by night. (And she is beyond grateful for her husband who takes on the role of “twin wrangler” and “super dad” as she attends class, studies, and finds the occasional time to write.) A contributor to such blogs as Reconciling Ministries Network, Believe Out Loud, Ministry with the Poor, Church World Service, BlogHer and Moms Encouraging Moms, Holli is passionate about writing and advocating for ministries involved with social justice. You can also find her on Twitter and on her personal blog, Joy is the Grace.
Megan Smith, 20, is from Lancaster, PA and is currently a junior at Eastern University. At Eastern, located in St. Davids, PA, Megan is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Arts in Mathematics with a concentration in Pre-Medicine and minors in both Biology and Chemistry. In the future, she hopes to attend either graduate or medical school to further her education. Megan has previously served in an internship with the Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner, assisting with the ministries of the GBOD Division of Ministries with Young People in the Northeastern Jurisdiction, as well as urban outreach to young people in Wilmington, DE. Megan is a young leader who has had the opportunity to preach at the Peninsula-Delaware Youth Rally in 2011 and at the Northeastern Jurisdiction Youth Convocation in 2012. She also attended the Duke Youth Academy for Christian Formation at Duke Divinity School in 2011.
On campus, Megan is Vice-Chair of the Leadership Fellows Program and spends her free time going on adventures with friends and doing both personal and business photography. Presently, Megan is continuing to discern the call the God has placed on her life by examining the skills, talents, and gifts that have been cultivated in her throughout her spiritual journey thus far.
Amy Yeary Holmes
The Reverend Amy Yeary Holmes is a young ordained elder in the Holston Conference. Upon completing her Clinical Pastoral Education residency she took some time off from the pastorate to raise a family. During that time she became a performing member of the Jonesborough Storytelling guild, a contributing writer for the religion column in the Jonesborough Herald and Tribune and travels the conference preaching, teaching and storytelling. Amy is passoniate about self care and quality continuing education for those serving in the parish whether they are clergy or laity.
Kyle Wyman, 24, is currently in his third year of seminary at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. He graduated from Temple University with a B.A. in English and Religion in May 2011. Kyle is a certified candidate for ordained ministry in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, but will be taking a few years before pursuing ordination as an Elder. Kyle is currently discerning God’s vocation in his life and where he is called to serve God and God’s people. As he wanders in his vocational journey, he knows that one who wanders is not always lost and trusts in God’s love.
Kyle enjoys reading, writing, running and meditation. He is also an avid movie-watcher and enjoys films from any genre. Kyle is keen to explore his creativity and is seeking new opportunities to express himself. He looks forward to graduating seminary and on potentially returning home to Philadelphia.
A life-long United Methodist and preacher’s kid, Sarah has been active on local, conference, jurisdictional, and global levels of the church. She’s seen the best (and the worst) that the church has to offer, and is always open to open to discussing her faith with believers and non-believers. She believes in living a life that glorifies God and helps others become disciples of Jesus Christ in order to transform this confusing, hectic, and seemingly broken world.
When not writing devotionals, Sarah can be found in dusty archives doing research for the Rogers, Arkansas Historical Museum, or behind the counter at the Fayetteville, Arkansas GameStop. She spends her free time playing guitar, throwing Frisbees, hiking, canoeing, snuggling with her roommate’s dog, tweeting about video games and post grad problems on her Twitter account, and contemplating life as a young adult. Don’t worry – she’ll blog about it once she’s figured it out.”
Megan Smith, 19, is from Lancaster, PA and is currently a freshman at Eastern University. At Eastern, located in St. Davids, PA, Megan is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and a minor in Biology. In the future, she hopes to attend either graduate school or seminary to further her education. Recently, Megan served in an internship with the Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner, assisting with the ministries of the GBOD Division of Ministries with Young People in the Northeastern Jurisdiction, as well as urban outreach to young people in Wilmington, DE. Megan is a young leader who has had the opportunity to preach at the Peninsula-Delaware Youth Rally in 2011 and at the Northeastern Jurisdiction Youth Convocation in 2012. She also attended the Duke Youth Academy for Christian Formation at Duke Divinity School in 2011.
On campus, Megan is involved in the Leadership Fellows Scholarship Program and Y.A.C.H.T. (Youth Against Complacency and Homelessness Today). Some of her other passions include public speaking, writing, photography, and music. Presently, Megan is continuing to discern the call the God has placed on her life by examining the skills, talents, and gifts that have been cultivated in her throughout her spiritual journey thus far.
Emily Echols is a 2009 graduate of Candler School of Theology at Emory University. After a brief stint as a pastor in Texas she thankfully discerned that God was calling her to preach God’s word without a pulpit and left the path of ordained ministry. She has since reverted to her childhood job aspirations and is trying to write books worth reading.
She is married to Chaplain Stephen Echols, United Methodist clergy and a chaplain in the United States Army. They have one young son, Gabriel, who is into everything and the smileyest baby you’ll ever meet. They are newly stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Vanessa is a 2011 graduate with a degree in children’s ministry and biblical literature.
As a Bible quizzer in high school, she developed a love for studying God’s Word, and she wants to help instill that love in other people as well. She especially loves working with the children of her church and community, and her favorite week of the year is Vacation Bible School. While serving in children’s ministry during high school, Vanessa dreamed of being a VBS director when she got older. For the past three summers, her dream has come true as she has had the opportunity to direct and design curriculum for her church’s VBS program. She enjoys helping children discover the truth of God and how much He loves them.
Vanessa loves spending time with family and discovering more about her family’s past. She likes learning, reading and writing and has written curriculum, devotions and children’s stories. She has also done proofreading work, and hopes to be a published book author someday.
Nick Chrisohon (pronounced “Chris-oh-hahn”) is the quintessential Southerner. Born and raised in Athens, Georgia, and currently residing in Nashville, Tennessee, Nick is a recent graduate of the Vanderbilt Divinity School with a Master of Divinity degree. He likes listening to blues music, growing his own herbs, drinking sweet tea, watching the Georgia Bulldogs, and eating shrimp ‘n’ grits. He was raised by his momma to be a Southern gentleman.
Sometimes, Nick concerns himself with practical theologies and their effects on personal and communal ethics. He also desires clergy and laity to care more about their physical, emotional, and nutritional wellness. He overuses ellipses and the em dash. You’ll hopefully forgive him for that.
The Reverend Dalton Troy Rushing, 29, is a provisional elder in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, where is appointed as the Pastor of Serve (associate) at Johns Creek United Methodist Church. His spouse, the Rev. Stacey Rushing, is also a provisional elder, and they have the unique pleasure of serving on church staff together. Dalton and Stacey are expecting their first daughter in January, and they are currently spending a considerable amount of time trying to figure out what it will mean to be the parents of a double-PK (Preachers’ Kid). Dalton blogs at daltonrushing.com.
Jarrod Johnston is a 30-year-old resident of Duncanville, TX having been born and raised in Texas. He is very blessed to currently serve as Minister of Worship at FUMC Duncanville where he designs and leads worship in both ‘contemporary’ and ‘traditional’ contexts. He and his wife, Leanne, moved back to Texas a year ago after spending three years in ministry in Slidell, LA, at Aldersgate UMC. There he served as Minister of Music, while Leanne served as Volunteer Coordinator for the Epworth Project. Leanne currently serves as Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Central Texas Conference.
In 2008 Jarrod graduated from the Perkins School of Theology with my Master of Sacred Music and has since found a passion to lead worship of all genres, never afraid to take a few risks. He has also found a passion in ministry with youth, trying to build up the next generation of young adults in ministry.
On January 11, 2012, Jarrod and Leanne welcomed their son Wesley into the world. Through him, God has put a new calling on his heart, not just to be a Christ-centered father, but to work hard to make sure we have a UMC for him to grow up in. When not playing with Wesley, Jarrod usually in the kitchen, reading a book, or blogging. You can find his writings at his blog, The Liturgy Nerd.
Hey ya’all! My name is Alexis Williams. I am a 30 year old ordained Elder, serving in West Branch, IA. I grew up in Iowa and am happy to be back here to serve the UMC Conference that helped shape who I am today. I have an M.Div from Iliff School of Theology out in Denver, CO. My primary calling centers around preaching and teaching the Gospel of Jesus. I have a heart that breaks for all of those that have been hurt by the church, are no longer in communion with a community, and have trouble seeing Jesus past the Christians.
I am happy to admit that I am still in a state of discernment about my call and my role. Right now, it is my joy to serve in parish ministry as a Lead Pastor in a growing and vibrant community. But I know that God’s plans are not necessarily my plans, so I am curious to see where my journey takes me 10-15 years from now.
My name is Luke Currier, I’m twenty three years old. I’ve lived and worked with ministries in seven states. I’m currently sort of homeless, I say ‘sort of’ because I have places that I could go if I wanted to, I really don’t want to. For the last two years I worked as a Youth Director at a church in Hammond, IN, a town sandwiched between Gary and the south side of Chicago, it was pretty stressful so I’m taking a non traditional, informal sabbatical.
I currently hop trains and hitchhike around the continental U.S. I spend a lot of time writing and learning the violin. I’m also currently a participant in the academy for spiritual formation.
My future Goals include finishing my B.A. at some point in the next two years and then pursuing an M.Div. and ordination.
Chris is an elder in the Indiana Conference and Associate Pastor at Meridian Street UMC in Indianapolis. Chris has served as pastors of 4 churches throughout the last 8 years. He is a graduate of of the University of Cincinnati and has his Master of Divinity Degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio (www.united.edu).
He is married to his best friend, Renee, both originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. Renee is a marriage and family therapist at Keystone Counseling in Indianapolis. They have four children that bring them life and joy.
Chris is passionate about faith, the Church, relationships family, sharing the Good News, and reaching out to our young generations for Jesus Christ. You can read his blog at pastorchrisroberts.blogspot.com.
Nan Hurd is originally from Pace, Florida. After she graduated from high school in 2006 she went to York, England to do a DTS (Discipleship Training School) with YWAM (Youth With A Mission). The first seven months of the ten month school was spent listening to lectures with really cool speakers on topics like the Father-heart of God, Hearing the voice of God, Post-Modernism, The Cross, Intercession ad Prayer, Holy Spirit and more. Two out of three weeks involved working with local ministries like a homeless ministry, an elderly center, youth groups, practical work for poor people, and engaging with people coming out of clubs and bars late at night. They lived in houses in the community and got to know each other very well which resulted in lots of peer “iron sharpening iron.” Lastly, they went on two outreaches one to Europe, and one to India. It was an amazing experience that has now opened the door to what her calling is.
Now Nan is still in York, England doing a leadership and pioneering ministries school which trains and supports people in starting new ministries. God’s called her to her current work with women in prostitution. In the next 4 years or so I’m hoping to be starting a ministry doing the same in a red light district somewhere. If you want to check out more about Nan, you can read her blog at: nancyperry.wordpress.com.
Andy Whitaker Smith
Andy graduated from the University of Kansas in 2003 with a Bachelor of General Studies in Film Studies (and so that he can answer your question: Yes, The Godfather is the greatest movie, ever). During the latter half of college Andy began to regularly attend Lawrence First United Methodist Church, which was at the time just starting to form a new Young Adult Group. Through the years our group grew closer together—personally and spiritually—and he became more involved in activities of learning and participation in the church. Andy remarks that, “During of one of the classes, the senior pastor smiled at me after my turn to speak and said: ‘We’ll get ya into seminary, yet.’”
It took years of discernment and conversations with others to get over this barrier, and after coming back from a mission trip in Bay St. Louis right after Hurricane Katrina, and much prayer, he realized that what he wanted to be involved in was a call from God. Andy enrolled at Saint Paul School of Theology in the fall of 2006. At the end of his first year Andy was appointed as a student pastor in the small town of Hiattville, just west of Fort Scott, KS. It was also in this year that he met a fellow student who showed him God and life in ways I had never seen before. After a time of friendship and growing closer together in ministry, spiritual searching, and finally love, they were married July 14, 2008 in the Kresge Chapel of the Saint Paul campus. Now in his 4th and final year of seminary, Andy is looking forward to full-time ministry, and the ways in which God is calling all of us to share love with one another and change the world together.
Aaron is 28 and grew up just North of Dallas in the suburbs of Richardson and Plano. After graduating high school, he attended Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX and received his B.A. in History with minors in Spanish and Philosophy. Immediately following his graduation, he attended Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX where he received a Master of Divinity degree in 2007.
During his time at Perkins he spent most of his elective courses studying evangelism and postmodern/emerging Christianity. Aaron has spoken at conferences, local churches, and other organization meetings about social justice and young adult involvement as evangelism. Aaron also has a passion for building and fostering authentic community with others. Currently, he serves as the Interim Director of Religious Life and Residence Life Specialist at Southwestern University. Ultimately, Aaron wants to work in university administration .
Aaron has been married to Lacy, his better half, for almost 4 years. They recently gave birth to twin boys. In his free time Aaron enjoys reading, running,arguing about things, and not capitalizing his writing on his personal blog.
Big Questions, Christian Faith, and Young Adulthood
I Will not Settle for a Second-Rate Christian Spirituality
Jesus is Lord of Your Facebook Profile, Too
Jesus Worked with His Hands until His 30th Year
Ben Simpson is a Christian, freelance writer, and school bus driver in his hometown of De Soto, Kansas. He has been married to his wife, Molly, for six years. Molly is the campus pastor of the West Campus of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, which is located in Olathe, Kansas.
Ben is working toward the completion of his second Master’s degree at The University of Kansas. He enjoys coffee, conversation, baseball, and time with friends. You can connect with Ben through social media by visiting his website, benjaminasimpson.com.
Mandy Burbank is a 31-year-old wife and mother of three from Montgomery, Alabama. She has changed a lot since she graduated from Huntingdon College 10 years ago, where she majored in psychology and literature. For instance she now has purple hair.
Mandy loves writing poetry, creating art, cooking challenging recipes, and experiencing new things, especially people and places, flavors, music and ideas. She also enjoys Reality TV that allows people to celebrate and exhibit their art, like Top Chef and So You Think You Can Dance. She finds simple things like children’s cartoons thought-provoking and looks for a spiritual challenge in unexpected places. She finds her greatest joy and inspiration in friendships, new ones made through Facebook or Myspace, as well as lifelong friends and family, but especially the awesome and humbling friendship of Jesus Christ.
Mandy married her high school sweetheart and they celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in July. Their favorite pastimes include reading books and watching movies together, especially discovering artistic, creative and original films. An example of a film that she found beautiful is Romeo + Juliet with Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio, which came out the year she graduated from high school. Even at 18, Mandy passionately believed that no matter how artistically or timelessly it is presented, the romance depicted in Shakespeares famous play isn’t real love at all. She loves to talk frankly to friends about love and relationships, the joys and challenges, and direct them to scripture instead of the world for truth about love.
Mandy used to be afraid to have dreams for the future, because she thought it was better to stay safe than to risk disappointment. She gives her entrepreneur husband and God the credit for opening her eyes to the joy of hoping and wishing and dreaming big. Some dreams she and her husband have tossed around include: becoming movie and food critics, opening a bed-and-breakfast/ art gallery, being live-in counselors for Mercy Ministries, or teaching yoga with a Christian perspective.
In the fall, Ben will start his second year of college at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana majoring in Secondary Education: English. After college, he will – after a great amount of prayer – either pursue a teaching career, or enroll in seminary with the intent of being an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.
He has recently developed a passion for global ministry and social justice. In his past those words seemed like taglines for evangelism and politics. However, he now sees them as ways to better the world. At the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, he was introduced to the global nature of the Body of Christ and since then has tried to educate himself on issues facing his community and communities around the globe.
When not searching for good cheesecake, Ben enjoys reading, writing, and learning how far he can park away from Panera and still connect to their free wireless internet. So far, he’s not had much luck beyond ten yards.
Katie Bishop, 26, lives in Frederick, Maryland with her husband, Chris and daughter, Eden, who is two. Katie serves as a pastor at Garfield United Methodist Church, a small rural congregation of about 80 in worship attendance. She is also the chair of the Baltimore-Washington Conference’s Young Adult Council. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Marymount University in Virginia and a Master’s degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. with a concentration in Youth Ministry. In her spare time, Katie loves being crafty and takes classes from the local arts and crafts store to learn new skills.
Passionate about the renewal of the United Methodist Church, Katie dreams of a day when the pews are full of people drawing back to God. Trusting that this growth will come from local congregations, she has put her prayers, energy and efforts into her local congregation. Katie has chosen to write about healthy relationships, seeing the need for Young Adults in her community (including herself) for balance while serving God and others.
Jeri Katherine Warden:
Jeri Katherine Warden is the daughter of Chaplain Robert Warden and Reverend Patricia Warden. Jeri Katherine graduated from Gardner-Webb University in 2007 with a BA in English. She is entering her third and final year of the Masters of Divinity program at Boston University School of Theology. She is a certified candidate in the South Carolina conference in the United Methodist Church. She has been interning this summer with the Wesley Foundation at the University of Hawaii Manoa on the island of Oahu. Jeri Katherine loves to run, cycle and read, and hopes to combine her passion for athletics and academics with her love, passion and dedication to God in ministry to university students.
Deena Marie Hamilton:
Rev. Deena Marie Hamilton is a 33 year old pastor in the Arkansas Conference. Her current appointment is Mc Cabe Chapel United Methodist Church in North Little Rock, AR. She is also the President/CEO/Owner of New Horizons Foundation, Inc. a non-profit organization dedicated to the empowerment of young people through education, public health, economic development, and advocacy. She graduated from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Nursing in 2010. Her career plan is to become a general nurse practitioner and develop strategic public health and educational ministries in the community. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Philander Smith College, and has two Master degrees from the University of Phoenix in Business Administration and Healthcare Management.
Rev. Hamilton also writes Christian fiction novels for youth and young adults. The first installment in her series is called Rude Awakening, which is available in all major bookstores.
In her journey into becoming a minister, she has had some life changing experiences in her life that have allowed for her to have a passion for youth and young adult ministries. She strongly believes that the holistic spiritual formation of young people should not begin when they are well into adult hood, but earlier in life. As a young adult pastor, her wish for ministry is to be able to help with spiritual formation of the members of her congregation from a holistic point of view. She would like to use her gifts and graces to cultivate and nurture the spiritual formation of youth and young adults while building generational bridges with the older adults so that the church as a whole can thrive and not just survive. She wants to be able to development tangible programs that will tie into the vision of the conference and help the local church remain a church alive by the grace of God, transforming lives for Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.