The morning of June 9 will include the main plenary session presented by the Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady that all attendees will hear. In addition to Cady's presentation there will be multiple workshops. You will be asked to select one workshop from the list below when registering for the annual conference session.

Cady is the senior minister at Asbury First UMC in Rochester, New York. Cady received a PhD in Practical Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. His particular research is youth and young adult faith formation, particularly in the area of worship. His dissertation was titled Creative Encounters: Toward a Theology of Magnitude for worship with United Methodist Youth.  Stephen has been named a Timothy Scholar by the United Methodist Foundation for Evangelism, was twice the recipient of a Dempster Fellowship through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, and is a John Wesley Fellow. He attended seminary at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary on the campus of Northwestern University and currently serves as an adjunct faculty member at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. Stephen grew up in Olathe, Kansas, and attended Ohio Wesleyan University (Delaware, OH) where he received a BA in theater.

The name of Cady's presentation is "A Problem of Magnitude: Worship in the United Methodist Church." Corporate worship is at the heart of who we are as a people called Methodists. Unfortunately, many young people (and likely others) have not found the worship of their congregations particularly meaningful. To our credit, we have both acknowledged the problem and tried many different solutions to fix it. One thing that we have often failed to do, however, is to talk to young people themselves. This presentation shares findings from a qualitative research project which spent a year listening to young people, parents, and pastors about what is missing within the corporate worship of their local congregations — which, as it turns out, has nothing to do with the music.

Listed here are all workshop details to help you decide. Select the topic or scroll down to learn more on each.

"Self-care as a Spiritual Discipline" led by Rev. Dr. Anne Gatobu
"How to Grow Closer to God: Advice from John Wesley" led by Rev. Dr. Hal Knight
“Disciples Making Disciples: The Wesleyan Way of Disciple-making” led by Rev. Dr. Steve Manskar
"Membership to Discipleship" led by Dr. Phil Maynard
“Narrative: The Most Important Thing About You” led by Rev. Dr. James Bryan Smith
“Sabbath as Center in an Unstable World” led by Rev. Marjorie Thompson
“TeamMates Mentoring Program” led by Brandon Leppke and Allyson Horne


1. “Self-care as a Spiritual Discipline” led by Rev. Dr. Anne Gatobu

Literature on self-care, especially for those serving in ministry is growing, and becoming central to the health of the pastor, the laity and the whole church. This workshop invites the participants to consider “self-care” as a spiritual discipline. Participants will explore scriptural and spiritual basis for self-care, Godly mandate for self-care, and the practical and ethical dimensions of being intentional about self-care. An inventory covering the five major areas of your wellness will be provided as an opportunity for you to reflect on your own habits for self-care and respond to an invitation for an intentional life-long discipline of self-care.

The Rev. Dr. Anne Kiome Gatobu is a pastor at Ashland (Nebraska) UMC and an affiliate professor of pastoral care and counseling at Asbury Theological Seminary. She taught as full time associate professor for eight years, during which she served as the dean of the School of Practical Theology at Asbury Theological Seminary for four years. Gatobu received her Ph.D. in religion and psychology (2006), M.Div. (2008) and MA oastoral care and counseling (1997) from University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology respectively, and a B.A. in land economics from the University of Nairobi (1990).

Gatobu's research interests revolve around issues of integration between Christian faith, psychology and social-cultural contextualization, with specific focus on pastoral ministries, gender violence, immigrant families and cross cultural issues. A native born and raised in Kenya, Gatobu's contribution to the academy and ministry is always augmented with the greater global worldview. In 2016 she received the United Methodist Global Award for her work with HIV AIDs orphans in Kenya. She is the author of "Female Identity Formation and response to Intimate Trauma: A Case study of Domestic Violence in Kenya."

2. “How to Grow Closer to God: Advice from John Wesley” led by Rev. Dr. Hal Knight

How do we develop a relationship with God that transforms our hearts and lives and enables us to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ in the world? That was the central question for John Wesley and his Methodists. This workshop will share the answers that they found and their implications for the church today.

The Rev. Hal Knight was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and attended Emory University for all of his degree programs. He became a Christian while serving in the U. S. Air Force through reading the New Testament. He experienced a call to ministry and became ordained through the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. After pastoring two churches as a student and one full time he entered graduate school and earned a doctorate in Theological Studies.

He began teaching at Candler School of Theology and joined the faculty at Saint Paul School of Theology in 1993. He currently teaches in the areas of Wesleyan Studies, contemporary theology, worship, and evangelism.

Knight is the author, co-author or editor of ten books. His most recent book is "Transforming Community: The Wesleyan Way to Missional Congregations." He is an ordained elder in the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church.

3. “Disciples Making Disciples: The Wesleyan Way of Disciple-making” led by Rev. Dr. Steve Manskar

John Wesley knew that disciples make disciples. That’s what happened in the Methodist class meeting. Today, Covenant Discipleship provides congregations with a proven and effective small group process that nurtures the leaders in discipleship congregations.

The workshop introduces you to Covenant Discipleship and how it will help your congregation re-tradition Wesleyan classes today. You will learn about the General Rule of Discipleship, Covenant Discipleship groups, the group covenant, group meetings, class leaders and their role in the congregation’s life and mission.

The Rev. Steven W. Manskar, D. Min. is a clergy member of the Minnesota Conference of The United Methodist Church. He served congregations for ten years and is now on the staff of the Leadership Ministries Unit of Discipleship Ministries as Director of Wesleyan Leadership.

He is the author of "Disciples Making Disciples: A Guide for Covenant Discipleship Groups and Class Leaders," "Accountable Discipleship: Living in God's Household," "A Perfect Love: Understanding John Wesley's 'A Plain Account of Christian Perfection'" and "A Disciple’s Journal: A Guide for Daily Prayer, Bible Reading, & Discipleship." He is editor of the monthly enewsletter Covenant Discipleship Connection and the Wesleyan Leadership blog.

4. "Membership to Discipleship" led by Dr. Phil Maynard

Our mission is to "make disciples of Jesus Christ …" yet there seems to be a lack of certainty about how to go about doing this. Drawing on the experiences of those congregations doing this well and on the best of current research, this workshop provides practical steps for helping disciples in our congregation become more like Jesus. We will bring clarity about what discipleship is, identify catalysts for spiritual growth, and explore how to build the process for intentional development as disciples of Jesus.

Dr. Phil Maynard has served as Path 1 Coaching Network (Discipleship Ministries) director, Excellence in Ministry Coaching director, and Coach Training for Leaders director. Before taking an early retirement to enter a full-time ministry of coaching, consulting, and training, Phil served as director of congregational excellence for the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Phil is a certified coach, an endorsed coach (UMEA), a certified conflict/mediation coach, and licensed trainer/facilitator. Phil is a graduate of Duke Divinity School (M.Div & Th.M); University of Kansas (M.S. Ed); and Drew (D.Min). He is author of "Shift, Foundations and Membership to Discipleship."

5. “Narrative: The Most Important Thing About You” led by Rev. Dr. James Bryan Smith

The way we view God is potentially the most important thing about us. The stories, the narratives, we have about God determine the way we interact with and are in relationship with God. It is true that we are spiritually formed. But the more we understand our narratives about God, the more we can move toward Christ-likeness and being formed in Christ.

Dr. James Bryan Smith (M.Div., Yale University Divinity School; DMin Fuller Seminary) is the executive director of the Apprentice Institute. Dr. Smith is currently a theology professor at Friends University, in Wichita, Kansas, and an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. He is the author of eight books, most notably "The Apprentice Series," which continue to shape the work of the Apprentice Institute. Dr. Smith’s other titles include "Devotional Classics" (with Richard J. Foster), "Embracing the Love of God, Room of Marvels" and "Hidden in Christ: Living as God’s Beloved."

6. “Sabbath as Center in an Unstable World” led by Rev. Marjorie Thompson

Does it feel as if the world around you is gyrating out of control, swinging between increasing extremes, with fearful, pained and angry voices on all sides — including inside you? The pressures of life are intense: a 24/7 news cycle; work that seems to demand the impossible; family care responsibilities; a planet in crisis. Challenges in our personal, national and global lives never cease. How do we maintain balance and equilibrium amid the turbulence? Come, deepen your vision and practice of Sabbath — the still center God invites us to enter, the gift of rhythmic rest and replenishment. Here we can receive again, and yet again, the soul-filling Love that fuels our ministry and mission.

Marjorie J. Thompson brings to her ministry three decades of experience with retreat work, teaching and writing in Christian spiritual formation. Author of the best-selling "Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life," she considers writing central to her calling as a Presbyterian minister.

For 12 years Marjorie served as director of Pathways in Congregational Spirituality with Upper Room Ministries in Nashville, where she was chief architect of Companions in Christ, an innovative small-group resource series for adult spiritual formation. Her most recent books for pastoral leaders and engaged laity are "The Gift of Encouragement" (Abingdon, 2013) and "Forgiveness: A Lenten Study" (WJK, 2014).

7. “TeamMates Mentoring Program” led by Brandon Leppke and Allyson Horne

It takes a village to raise a child so school districts are looking beyond the classroom to engage volunteers in their community as mentors. TeamMates has 25 years of experience behind its safe and impactful school-based mentoring program. At this session you will learn how to launch a TeamMates chapter in your community or recruit mentors for the chapter already existing in your local school. Discover how an additional caring adult can make the difference for youth in your community!

Brandon Leppke is the program director and Allyson Horne is the match strength specialist in the Omaha office for the TeamMates Mentoring Program.