Ministry Conference to Discuss Ways to Help Children Grow in Faith

NASHVILLE, Tenn. May 28, 2013 /Discipleship Ministries/ – Church leaders and workers who are engaged in ministry with children will celebrate their work and discuss ways to help children grow in faith at the 2013 United Methodist Conference on Ministry with Children (formerly FOCUS) this summer in Greenville, S.C.

The conference, “Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord,” will be July 23-26 at Buncombe Street United Methodist Church in Greenville and is offered by the Discipleship Ministries.

"The Conference on Ministry with Children is the opportunity to learn, share and connect through innovative workshops and inspirational worship and also to begin a deep connection with others from across the country who minister to children,” said Melanie Gordon, Director of Ministry with Children for the Leadership Resources Division at Discipleship Ministries.

“Our goal is to bring in teachers and preachers who possess a specific expertise in faith, spiritual and cognitive child development that will support congregations in forming and revitalizing their children's ministries,” she said.

The conference is open to teachers, leaders, pastors, children’s advocates, preschool teachers and directors, annual conference staff and anyone who is committed to faith formation of children, Gordon said.

A pre-conference retreat for children’s ministry leaders will be held July 22, with a follow-up session the morning of July 23.

To register for the full four-day conference or the pre-conference retreat, go to Cost for the conference is $425, which includes four meals, and for the retreat $25, which includes lunch and transportation to the retreat site.

More than 20 presenters will lead worship sessions and conference workshops on a variety of topics related to children’s ministry. The presenters will include:

  • Rev. Dr. L. Edward Phillips, Associate Professor of Worship and Liturgical Theology at Emory University, Candler School of Theology, and the Rev. Sara Webb Phillips, Senior Pastor at Brookhaven UMC in Atlanta. They will lead sessions on “Not for Avatars – Worship with and for Real Children” and “Preparing Families for Baptism.” Publications by the Phillips include In Spirit and Truth: United Methodist Worship for the Emerging Church and Baptism: Understanding God's Gift.
  • Rev. Dr. Leanne Hadley, minister to children and families at the First UMC in Colorado Springs, Colo., who will lead the session, “Helping Children through Grief and Loss.” Hadley is president and founder of First Steps Spirituality Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing spiritual care to hurting children at no cost to the children or their families. She is the author of several publications, including Touching Heaven: Real Stories of Children, Life and Eternity.
  • Rev. Dr. Michael Williams, senior pastor of West End UMC in Nashville, who will lead the session, “Children in Worship and the Life of the Church.” Williams is an author of articles, stories, poems, plays and books and serves as general editor of The Storyteller's Companion to the Bible series.
  • Rev. Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones, priest for pastoral care at Trinity Church Wall Street, an Episcopal parish in New York City, who will lead the session, “The Power of Story in Ministry with Children.” Bozzuti-Jones, a regular retreat facilitator and spiritual director, is an author of several books, including God Created and God Thought of You.

For more information, including a conference overview and complete session descriptions, go to

Following the conference, Gordon said Discipleship Ministries will offer ongoing training through webinars and group sharing via multiple media outlets.

Discipleship Ministries's mission is to support annual conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples. An agency of The United Methodist Church, Discipleship Ministries is located at 1908 Grand Ave. in Nashville, Tenn. Visit for more information or call the Communications Office at (877) 899-2780, Ext. 1726.

Categories: Press Center, 2013 News