Kenda Creasy Dean
Kenda is an ordained United Methodist pastor in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, and serves as the Mary D. Synnott Professor of Youth, Church and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. She works closely with Princeton’s Institute for Youth Ministry and the Farminary (the seminary’s initiative in small-scale sustainable agriculture and theological formation). She also serves as the coordinating pastor of Kingston United Methodist Church. In 2013 she founded an incubator/accelerator program for Christian leaders and congregations focusing on missional innovation and entrepreneurship (MinistryIncubators.com), with fellow youth pastor and serial entrepreneur Mark DeVries.
Kenda is the author of numerous books on young people and the church, including Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church, The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry with Andrew Root, The Godbearing Life: The Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry with Ron Foster, and most recently How Youth Ministry Can Change Theological Education—If We Let It, with Christy Lang Hearlson. She teaches around the world on ministry with young people and missional innovation.
Kenda hails from a long line of Ohio farmers and Kentucky coal miners, although she herself is a P.K.—a politician’s kid. At fifteen she attended a United Methodist church camp on Lake Erie that pretty much changed everything.
A graduate of Miami University (Ohio) and Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, Kenda served as a pastor and as a campus minister before earning her doctorate at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1997. She and her husband Kevin love to binge on Netflix “beltway dramas” (The Americans, House of Cards, Madame Secretary…). They also love hanging out with their filmmaker son in Brooklyn and their grant-writing daughter in Linden, NJ, and digging their toes in the sand in Ocean Grove, NJ. Find out more about Kenda here.
A dynamically engaging communicator, Preston Centuolo naturally speaks right to the heart of youth, helping them see beyond pressing obstacles to seize their own unique purpose. For over two decades, Preston has tirelessly shared his inspiring story with young people around the world. His words resonate with youth struggling to find balance in an increasingly chaotic, high pressure, information-overload age. A masterful storyteller, Preston’s message offers a fresh outlook, helping youth find renewed hope and direction in spite of pressing circumstances. He expertly addresses common issues facing youth and demystifies confusing, mixed messages that come from all directions in today’s technological era.
Preston’s vision is to reignite hope for a bright future in the lives of young people. Preston wants every young person to recognize they have immeasurable, irrevocable purpose and value no matter what their past or present circumstances. These special gifts and even their struggles can be transformed into platforms of success. He wants to diffuse societal messages misconstruing success and challenge young people to chase after meaningful, authentic dreams as specially-made individuals. Find out more about Preston here.
Kate Obermueller Unruh is a Kansas native and forever a Jayhawk at heart. She has more than ten years of experience in youth ministry in various roles, including serving as Assistant Minister at The American Church in London following the completion of an M.Div/M.A. in youth ministry. Kate lives with her architect husband Kyle and their two children in New Jersey, where Kate is a doctoral candidate in Education and Formation at Princeton Theological Seminary.
Kermit Cornell Moss, Sr. is a Ph.D. student in the area of Practical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. His interests include Black liberation theology, critical race theory, philosophies of practical reason, pneumatology, the spirituality of urban youth and hip-hop culture. Kermit currently serves as senior pastor of Manhattan Bible Church which is located in the Inwood neighborhood in Northern Manhattan (NYC).
Wes Ellis is the Associate Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Toms River, New Jersey. He received an M.Div. and an M.A. in Christian Education from Princeton Theological Seminary and he’s been in youth ministry for over 10 years. He’s currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Practical Theology from University of Aberdeen and he lives in New Jersey with his wife Amanda and their son, Henry.
Rev. Tom Lank is the Coordinator of the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission program for the Northeastern Jurisdiction of the UMC and is an Ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey.
Tom’s specialization as a Deacon is in missions and peace with justice ministries. He is a graduate of Cornell University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and the Princeton Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Philadelphia with his wife and two children. Tom has organized international mission journeys for youth and adults in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua and domestic mission journeys in 9 different U.S. states.
He describes his calling as connecting the people of God with the needs of the world through genuine encounters and relationships. He has served local churches in Princeton and Haddonfield, NJ, where he handled the youth ministry, as well as Colorado Springs, CO. Tom is also the Chair of The United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey delegation to General Conference for the 2016-2020 quadrennium.
Currently pastoring at First United Methodist Church in Dover as well as for Morristown United Methodist church as the associate pastor for a Hispanic ministry called “Nueva Esperanza.” Very passionate in reaching out to our young people in today’s world through creative and unorthodox ways that speak to their culture. Presently serving two congregations and a ministry that reflects generation z and millenials. An age group that is longing to be the church of Jesus Christ through their own culture.
Blair Goold currently serves as pastor at Island Heights UMC. Before being called into fulltime ministry, he and his wife Joan served as youth leaders at Manahawkin UMC where they grew a youth ministry from 2 participants (one their own daughter) to two thriving groups, a middle school group and a high school group. This interactive workshop unpacks the tools of visioning, relationship building, patience, determination, and prayer as the necessary items for building a youth ministry where none exists.