Unification News for November 2004

3rd North American Educators Conference

October 22-24, 2004

"Owning the Task of Education: Addressing issues, Generating Solutions"

The word "educare" means to draw out. It is a powerful little word when we think about it. Drawing out was certainly the order of the day for the 3rd North American Educators Conference that was held at UTS-Barrytown on October 22 ­ 24th, 2004. The entire weekend was about "drawing out" ­ drawing out the best insights and content of the presenters and drawing out the best questions, ideas and experiences from each participant. This was our task as we addressed the conference topic: "Owning the Task of Education: Addressing Issues, Generating Solutions."

The conference began with a series of Pre-Conference Workshops that took place on Friday. Mr. Brian Sabourin offered a full day workshop on "Youth Ministry Essentials." Brian challenged the participants to define a clear purpose for youth education, maintain a healthy spiritual life and youth ministers, and develop effective age appropriate teaching methods for teens. He rounded out the Youth Ministry workshop with a discussion of the New Jersey Family Church Model for participants to examine.

A second workshop, and new to this yearıs program, was a Marriage Ministry Training program that provided a rich and diverse team of presenters and a well-rounded series of topics. Mr. John Williams and Mrs. Joni Choi began the day with a session on "Marriage Ministry for First and Second Generation Couples." Next, there was Mr. and Mrs. Farley Jones guiding participants to consider "Working as a Couple to Teach Skills in Marriage Ministry." The morning concluded with "Marriage Counseling Techniques and Models" with Betsy Jones. The afternoon continued the rich content with Mr. and Mrs. Alan Saunders approaching the topic of "Working Out Differences." The workshop concluded with a vibrant Q & A session with all presenters.

The conference itself got started on Friday evening with a general welcome and ice breaker that allowed the participants to quickly get to know the many new participants who attended this year. The evening concluded with a Networking Reception. It was quickly evident that this weekend promised to be a rich and wonderful experience for the participants.

In the opening plenary on Saturday morning, Mr. Tony Devine addressed the history of the conference and laid out the vision of the annual conference and the newly organized Center for Education, and Dr. Tyler Hendricks welcomed participants to UTS and this yearıs conference. In addition, Dr. Hendricks highlighted some of the many new breakouts and presenters in this yearıs program. Mr. Noah Ross addressed the new Blessed Family Association and the BFA Convocation that would take place Saturday night. All participants were encouraged to take advantage of the networking opportunities available in this conference and were invited to really examine the issues and to be bold in generating possible solutions.

It was also clear that this third year signaled a growth and development in the Conference compared to the previous years. Not only was there a new educational ministry track ­ that of Pastoral Ministry Education ­ but there were many more Young Adult Ministry and Family and Marriage Ministry breakouts than in years past. A new breakout format was also introduced ­ the Forum. The Forum was created for those issues, ideas, and programs that were still new and not fully operational. The purpose of the Forum was to allow presenters to offer their thoughts and ideas so as to encourage a promising and healthy discussion that could ultimately help develop these new programs into strong and effective educational activities.

What were the individual breakouts? In Childrenıs Ministry, Sunday School teachers and directors looked at how to run an effective Sunday School with Mr. Bruce Clarke, integrating effective character education in childrenıs ministry with Mr. Tony Devine, develop a strong childrenıs ministry with a strong focus on internal guidance with Mrs. Jacquie Gurtatowski, and utilize service learning in a ministry to children with myself as the presenter.

The Youth Ministry breakouts addressed how to create an abstinence-based peer counseling program called ULTRA Teen Choice in oneıs youth ministry or community with Mr. Richard Urban, consider how a new leadership course ­ Jr. STF ­ can become a part of their communityıs outreach to teens with Mr. David Stein and Mr. InSoo Kim, understand the educational value of camp for teens with Mr. Brian Sabourin, and how to counsel and work with trouble teens with myself.

The Young Adult Ministry area was particularly rich and diverse this year as participants considered how to create an effective young adult ministry, how to make use of retreats to revitalize and empower young adults with Ms. Harumi Kawamura, were informed about the possibility of a college here at Barrytown with Dr. Tyler Hendricks and Dr. Andrew Wilson, actively discussed life as a young adult blessed couple with Mr. and Mrs. Jin Man, looked at a new educational pipeline concept with a look also at new work being done with STF, CARP and young adult ministry in New York with Mr. Kazushi Mito, Rev. Philip Shankar, and Mr. Joshua Cotter, considered a publicly used program called Character Counts and the possibility it offers us with Mr. Scott Simmonds, examined the issues of being a young adult Unificationist with Mr. Kenritsu Yamamoto and Ms. Kotun Kiely, and realized the power of service learning to transform young adults with Mr. Tony Devine and Ms. Lilli Kirkley.

Family and Marriage Ministry had equally diverse breakouts with some new topics this year and vital sessions where participants addressed the matching process of their children by Mr. Jim Stephens, how to help families with special needs with Mrs. Fran Ichijo, how to organize blessed families in our community with Rev. Kevin Thompson, considered how to raise our children to be abstinent with Mrs. Linda Haft, examined success factors of the LDS through the family home evening with Dr. Tyler Hendricks, and then looked at how the Blessed Family Department can serve our families with Mr. and Mrs. Stephens.

Finally, our newest track or level of concentration was that of Pastoral Ministry Education. In this area, participants addressed the nuts and bolts of an effective pastoral ministry with Rev. Kevin Thompson, how to create workable intergenerational worship services with myself, and utilizing film as an innovative and effective education tool with Dr. Mike Mickler.

This year the conference organizers felt that the action committees were not able to function effectively at this point in time. Therefore, it was agreed that the conference should have time for participants to simply talk about the issues, questions and concerns that they had in the 5 general ministry areas through a moderated and focused discussion. So, immediately after dinner, participants attended a special "Theme Panel" discussion with one theme panel and moderator assigned for each of the 5 areas of Childrenıs Ministry, Youth Ministry, Young Adult Ministry, Family and Marriage Ministry, and Pastoral Education Ministry. Each session was rich and diverse and so covered material that had not been presented during the conference so far. After the Theme Panel Sessions, the Blessed Family Association held a convocation in which participants discussed how to organize the BFA, what its relationship would be in regards to the Blessed Family Department, and where they could go from here. It was decided that the BFA would host a convocation each year during the Educators Conference. A draft mission and vision statement are being worked on at this time.

The evening ended on an exciting high note with the Down Home Music Fest that reverberated throughout the entire building. It really brought some life to these quiet and hallowed halls and great music echoed throughout UTS.

Of course, throughout the entire conference, there were those moments that participants took for networking, browsing through current resources and materials, or to take a quiet walk and reflect on all the ideas, insights and issues that had been raised throughout the day.

The exciting point about this yearıs conference was that it attracted a larger number of young adult presenters and attendees. These are the up and coming Sunday School and Youth Ministry teachers and staff that represent a new generation of teachers and parents. These participants offered thoughtful, energetic ideas and responses and they are committed to drawing out the best in the coming generations as educators and parents.

During the sessions, it was also clear that our educators, parents and pastors are having to grapple with some difficulty issues and concerns. Yet, they are working hard to find the ways to faithfully and effectively address these tough questions and so create an educational tradition that represents the best of what we have to offer through our True Parents.

It became evident during the conference that education in the church has come a long way. But it took passion and passionate people to create this educational foundation. Throughout the conference, many participants were reminded of the one or two individuals in their communities or regions who were passionate about education and so organized some beginning camps, Sunday School programs, and family ministry seminars. They were also able to see how things have grown and developed educationally by drawing out the very best from each parent, teacher and minister. Each session was an opportunity to look around the room and look at the faces of a growing number of individuals and families filled with a passion and a zeal to address issues and generate solutions that will guide the educational activity in the movement for many years to come. Through the conference, each participant could realize that this is what education is all about ­ passionate people with dreams, hopes and vision and, most importantly, the will to do what it takes to boldly move our diverse educational ministries into the future.

Some of the solutions or ideas that were generated by the conference included: (1) A need for a stronger more professional curriculum and curricular resources to support the growing network of trained teachers, investment in more resources, and the inclusion of more effective teaching tools that enable our children to practice their faith in the world. (2) The need to recognize and make use of a wide range of resources, innovative programs and transformative settings in our existing youth ministries that challenge our teens to step out and become leaders of their generation who are loving and pure, while at the same time learning how to effectively address the range of problems and illnesses that some of our teens are facing. (3) The development of a strong and effective ministry for young adults ­ whether they are on campus or in their home communities ­ that supports the development of a rich and vibrant owned faith. (4) The need to proactively address the key issues dealing with the matching and marriage of our children, develop an educational program that effectively nurtures and meets the needs of all of our blessed families, and to create and implement a ministry paradigm that truly creates a family-centered and family-empowered church within the Family and Marriage Educational Ministry area. (5) A continuing educational program for our city, state and regional leaders/pastors so that they can continue to respond to Godıs call in their lives as they seek to pastor and minister to all of us.

During the closing plenary, offered by Dr. Kathy Winings, participants were challenged to do several things on returning home. First, participants were asked to reflect on the insights gained throughout the weekend and to make a plan to implement at least one idea or suggestion that they gained from their conference experience sometime within the next 7 days. Second, participants were encouraged to prepare for next yearıs conference now and to bring someone with them next year or to send at least 2 people to next yearıs program. In considering who to send, all participants were challenged to send at least one second generation youth or young adult to the conference. This is the best way to expand what we learn through the conference experience.

Third, participants were encouraged to organize a training session or a meeting in their community fairly soon so that they can share with their community all that they learned this weekend. Fourth, participants were asked to continually invest in their educational ministry skills through such means as joining the Religious Education Association to gain access to professional resources that will help them, look for new resources in education, and to attend local programs and trainings to improve their skill base.

By the end of the closing plenary on Sunday, October 24th, it was clear that everyone was returning home with something of value, something that was learned, or with something that would help them continue to give of their best educationally. All in all, one can say that a lot had been drawn out of each participant and presenter through the conference. It will be a tough act to follow, as they say, but all of us look forward to next yearıs 4th Annual North American Educators Conference to see what will be drawn out of us next year as we all seek to become true teachers, true parents and true leaders for God. We hope to see you there next year as well!

For more information or to obtain a CD of the conference proceedings, please contact Dr. Kathy Winings at: IRFFint@aol.com.

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