Lunch & Lecture Series

The Yale Youth Ministry Institute is pleased to announce the Fall 2018 Lunch & Lecture Series: "Why Youth Ministry? Nurturing Joy in an Uncertain Age," featuring leading practical theologians and youth ministers presenting on compassion, peace-making, reconciliation and forgiveness. Links to register for each event will be posted in the fall.

Why Youth Ministry? Nurturing Joy in an Uncertain Age

Free Lunch & Lecture Series: Fall 2018

All lectures will take place at:
Yale Divinity School
409 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511 

All of the lectures below along with interviews with our guest speakers can be found on our YouTube channel

Fall 2018 Line-up

Wednesday - october 3, 2018


Dr. Frank Rogers, Rev. Dr. Christopher Carter, & Mr. Seth Schoen on Compassion

Dr. Frank Rogers, Rev. Dr. Christopher Carter, and Mr. Seth Schoen will deliver a lecture entitled, “The Contributions of Compassion to Adolescent Flourishing within Difficult Conversations About Race and Racial Identity.” In this lecture, they will describe the good life as both grounded empowerment in one’s racial identity, and relationships across racial identities of mutual respect, understanding, and commitment to a world where flourishing is not denied anyone by virtue of race. This lecture will introduce practices that are designed to facilitate compassion-based approaches to difficult conversations around race. Dr. Frank Rogers is a Professor at Claremont School of Theology. He is Co-Director and Founder of the Center for Engaged Compassion in Claremont, CA. He is the author of Practicing Compassion; The God of Shattered Glass, A Novel, and of Finding God in the Graffiti: Empowering Teenagers through Stories which explores the role of the narrative arts in the spiritual formation of marginalized and abused youth and children. The Rev. Dr. Carter is Assistant Professor at the University of San Diego and teaches courses in Christian theology and ethics, Black and Womanist theology, and Christianity and environmental justice. Mr. Schoen is a doctoral candidate in Practical Theology with a concentration in Spiritual Formation at Claremont School of Theology.

Wednesday - November 7, 2018


Dr. David Anderson Hooker, Dr. Itihare Toure & Dr. Elizabeth Corrie on Peace-Making & Reconciliation

Dr. David Anderson Hooker, Dr. Itihare Toure and Dr. Elizabeth Corrie will deliver a lecture entitled, “Eight bowls, Four weeks, One RADICL World.” The presenters will argue that peace, reconciliation, and, by extension, joy and the good life are communal achievements and not individual pursuits or possessions. Dr. Hooker is professor of the practice of conflict transformation and peacebuilding at the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs. Dr. Toure currently works with the Interdenominational Theological Center as faculty in the Master of Arts Christian Education degree program. Dr. Corrie is associate professor in the practice of youth education and peacebuilding and director of the Youth Theological Initiative at Candler School of Theology. 

wednesday - december 5, 2018


Dr. Miroslav Volf & Mr. Paul Gorrell on Forgiveness

Dr. Miroslav Volf and Mr. Paul Gorrell will deliver a lecture entitled, “Forgiveness and Joy.” If you have seriously wronged someone, it is a joyous thing to be told: “It’s OK. I don’t count it against you!” But is there joy in offering apology and in restoring a measure of what your wrongdoing has taken away? And if you yourself have been wronged, is there joy in forgiving? Is not revenge – “sweet revenge” – more joyful than forgiveness? Miroslav Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School and the Founding Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. He is author or editor of 20 books and over 70 scholarly articles, including Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (1996), which received the 2002 Louisville Grawemeyer Award. Mr. Gorrell is a poet, and Founder and Director of Peace Right Here.

(Previous Lectures Below)

Fall 2017 Line-up

wednesday – october 4, 2017

Kenda Creasy Dean, Ph.D.
Kenda Creasy Dean is the Mary D. Synnott Professor of Youth, Church, and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is also the coordinating pastor of Kingston United Methodist Church in New Jersey, and an ordained elder in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference. Her publications include Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church and Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church.


Mr. Justin Forbes

Mr. Forbes serves as the director of the Youth Ministry program at Flagler College and has been involved in youth ministry since 1998.


Topic: Belonging
Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean and Mr. Justin Forbes will deliver a lecture entitled, “Trace My Hand: Joy and Belonging in Youth Ministry.”

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wednesday – november 1, 2017

Dr. Robert Emmons
Dr. Emmons is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. He is a professor of psychology at UC Davis, and the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology. He is the author of several books including, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. 


Mr. Marc Afshar
Mr. Afshar is a college minister that serves at the University of the Pacific and Delta College in Stockton, CA.


Topic: Gratitude
Dr. Robert Emmons and Mr. Marc Afshar will deliver a lecture entitled, “God, Grace, Gifts and Gratitude: Foundations for Joy.” Gratitude comes from the recognition that gifts are not rights, privileges, or accidental outcomes but emerge when the mind is turned toward contemplation of God's incomprehensible goodness. Youth ministry contexts can actualize gratitude’s role as a social glue that binds people together, boosting joy in settings where flourishing often remains a potentiality rather than a reality.

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wednesday – december 6, 2017


Dr. Kara Powell 
Dr. Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. She is the author of several books including: Growing Young, and others.



Mr. Mike Park

Mr. Park has led student ministries for 12 years in churches in California and New York. Currently, Mr. Park is a pastor at Hope Church NYC.



Topic: Community
Dr. Kara Powell and Mr. Mike Park will deliver a lecture entitled, “How Your Church Can Grow Young.” Based on a landmark investigation on congregations who love and are loved by young people, this lecture will explore community’s relationship to joy, and offer a host of practical ideas to help our young people grow, and our church to “Grow Young”.

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Spring 2018 Line-up

Wednesday – January 10, 2018

Dr. Mary Elizabeth Moore

Mary Elizabeth Moore is Dean of the School of Theology and Professor of Theology     and Education at Boston University. Her books include: Teaching as a Sacramental Act, among many others.



  Ms. Yara Gonzalez-Justiniano

Yara Gonzalez-Justiniano is a PhD student in Practical Theology at Boston University.

Topic: Wisdom

Dr. Mary Elizabeth Moore and Ms. Yara Gonzalez-Justiniano will deliver a lecture entitled, “Youth Speaking to Joy: Fiesta, Resilience, and the Wisdom of Youth.” The lecture draws from 70 youth interviews, exploring portraits of joy in young people and analyzing the relationship between celebration and resilience in their stories. Their narratives are placed in dialogue with traditions of fiesta in Latinx communities and theologies of hope.

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Please note, this lecture and all following lectures (unless otherwise noted) will be held in the Old Refectory. For the location of this room, please refer to this campus map.

Wednesday – February 7, 2018

Dr. David F. Ford

Dr. Ford is Regius Professor of Divinity in the University of Cambridge and is Founding Director of Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme in the Centre for Advanced Religious and Theological Studies. He is the author of numerous books including: The Future of Christian Theology.


Rev. Canon Chris Russell
Rev. Russell has been the vicar at St. Laurence Church in Reading since 2001 working to build a multi-generational community, with a particular mission amongst young people.​

Topic: Praise
Dr. David F. Ford and Rev. Canon Chris Russell will deliver a lecture entitled, “Praise: Being Transformed in Joy.” The lecture will try to do some justice to what it means to live a life of joyful praise today, drawing on many sources and personal experiences, and facing some of the challenges to wholehearted praise that young people meet in our culture.

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Watch the recorded lecture here.

Wednesday – March 7, 2018

NOTE: This event has been RESCHEDULED for April 11th!


Dr. Stephanie Paulsell
Dr. Paulsell is the Susan Shallcross Swartz Professor of the Practice of Christian Studies at Harvard Divinity School.


Ms. Vanessa Zoltan

Ms. Zoltan is the co-host of the popular podcast, “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.”​


Topic: Imagination & Creativity
Dr. Stephanie Paulsell and Ms. Vanessa Zoltan, MDiv will deliver a lecture called “Matches Struck in the Dark: Imagination and the Joyful Life.” Drawing on a range of religious and literary resources, this lecture will explore the creativity at the heart of the life of faith as well as practices that help us cultivate it.

wednesday – April 4, 2018


Dr. Tony Campolo

Dr. Campolo is professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University and a former faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania.  For 40 years, he lead the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education. More recently, Dr. Campolo has provided leadership for Red Letter Christians as well as for the Campolo Center for Ministry. He has written more than 35 books and can be found blogging regularly on and


Mr. Shane Claiborne

Mr. Claiborne writes and speaks around the world about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus, and is the author of numerous books including Executing Grace. He is the visionary founder of The Simple Way in Philadelphia and director of Red Letter Christians.

Topic: Grace

Dr. Tony Campolo and Mr. Shane Claiborne will deliver a lecture entitled, “Abounding Joy: Grace and Its Consequences.” This lecture will explore how grace not only creates joy through mystical conversion experiences but will also examine the joy that arises when young people engage in evangelism and social justice efforts.

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wednesday – May 2, 2018

Dr. Almeda M. Wright

Almeda Wright is Assistant Professor of Religious Education at Yale Divinity School. Her research focuses on African American religion, adolescent spiritual development, and the intersections of religion and public life. She is ordained in the American Baptist Church. She is co-editor, with Mary Elizabeth Moore, of Children, Youth, and Spirituality in a Troubling World, and has served as editor of an issue of Practical Matters Journal.


Mr. Nyle Fort
Mr. Fort is a Ph.D. Student at Princeton University in African American Studies, a preacher, activist and organizer, as well as former youth pastor.

Topic: Agency

Dr. Almeda M. Wright and Mr. Nyle Fort will deliver a lecture entitled, “Young, Active and Faithful: Exploring Joy and Agency in Adolescence.” This lecture explores both the necessity of empowering youth to be active agents in their own lives and communities, as well as examples of how to promote this type of active faith.

All lectures will be available on livestream.