Oasis Regional Christian Education Event

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Sunday October 25, 2015 at 5:00 PM CDT
Tuesday October 27, 2015 at 12:00 PM CDT

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Embassy Suites Kansas City - Plaza 
220 West 43rd Street
Kansas City, MO 64111

Driving Directions 


Malinda Spencer 
Heartland Presbytery 

John Vest, keynoter

About Our Keynoter

After fifteen years of ministry in the Chicago metropolitan area, most recently as the Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry at Fourth Presbyterian Church, John W. Vest currently serves as the Visiting Assistant Professor of Evangelism at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He holds degrees from Rice University (B.A.), the University of Chicago Divinity School (M.Div.), and McCormick Theological Seminary (D.Min.), and has studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is co-founder of the Progressive Youth Ministry conference and blogs about his “Adventures in Post-Christendom” at johnvest.com. An enthusiastic pitmaster, John dreams of one day achieving the mystical union of church and BBQ.

Keynote information

Now is the Time!  Living the Gospel in a Post-Christendom World

Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”

Keynote 1:  “Now is the Time!”

The core message of Jesus isn’t about the past. It isn’t about the future. It isn’t about a heaven or a hell
somewhere far away. It’s about right here, right now. There is an urgency to Jesus’ message that mainline Protestants often miss. How can we be a part of what God is doing in the world right now?

Keynote 2:  “Here Comes God’s Kingdom!”

In and through Jesus and his message, the world is changing. God’s kingdom—Jesus’ way of naming what God wants the world to be and how God is re-creating the world—is emerging all around us. How can we learn to recognize signs of God’s kingdom? How can we be a part of it?

Keynote 3: “Change Your Hearts and Lives, and Trust this Good News!”

The gospel of Jesus is not bad news. It’s not about guilt. It’s not about fear. It’s not about punishment. The gospel is good news of redemption and transformation for all of God’s creation. But things need to change. We need to change. Through Jesus God is doing something remarkable, something new, something radical, and Jesus is calling us to get on board.

Our schedule

 Haven't registered?  You can still join us for workshops, keynotes, and learning!

Late registration, all three days $219

Sunday only--1 meal--$68

Monday only--2 meals--$94

Tuesday only--no meal--$54


Block 1 Monday 10:45-noon

1A--Following Damaris--Damaris was one of two disciples who followed Paul after he spoke in Athens, where he had been accused of worshipping foreign gods. Damaris recognized that this was no "foreign god" but the only one true God experienced and known in a glorious new way. The goal of this workshop is to expand your experience of the God of the Bible.  Kathleen Splitt is an ordained teaching elder and certified church educator from Nebraska. She experiences a thrill each time she discovers something new about the One and Only God of the Bible. She also finds great satisfaction in guiding others to an expanded awareness of God.

1B--Network Church-- The  church has failed to recognize that our most basic form of organized religious
life--the congregation--is rooted in social constructs that are being eclipsed by new means of social connectionalism. A network approach to ministry focuses on people living authentic gospel-shaped Christian lives in their native and natural social contexts.   John Vest is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Evangelism at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA. He is co-founder of the Progressive Youth Ministry conference and blogs about his adventures in post-Christendom at johnvest.com.  He is the keynoter for Oasis 2015.

1C--Wonderfully Made: Helping Those with Special Needs--We will be looking at how the Church and our ministries can be more inclusive to those with special needs, including the autism spectrum.  Katie Sternhagen has been in youth ministry for 8 years, and has worked with children with special needs for 14 years. She is
mother to a beautiful 4 year old daughter, Jillian, and moose of a dog, Darth Vader.

1D--Ministry for the Long Haul: Sustaining Our Call--   A positive, interactive, and energized workshop on ministry strengths/gifts and sustaining our call. Many are called to serve in a variety of ministries: from teaching elder to Christian educator to teacher to counselor.  You will learn how to face discouragement with hope and burn-out with renewed energy.  Jim Splitt serves on the PPCN Board. Ordained in 1978, he has served as a chaplain, pastoral counselor, and teaching elder.  He is an encourager, hope planter, team builder, listener, and spiritual guide.  This workshop is presented by the PPCN.

1E--Why Your Youth Aren’t in Church, and How to Find Them--Exploring issues of faith with youth is challenging. There are cultural and generational differences that are leading youth to find hope and belonging in places other than the Church. How can we respond? The workshop will examine findings from the National Study of Youth and Religion and look at practical solutions for leaders and parents. If participants are interested, this workshop may flow into lunch.   Matt Vaughan has served three churches in Heartland Presbytery, is married with two kids, and currently serves as the Midwest Regional Director for Youth Ministry

Block 2 Monday 2:15-3:30

2A--A Backstage Pass to Adult Education--This workshop will address the preparation for adult education in the church.  While it sometimes seems overwhelming, thorough backstage work for adult education is a sort of divine playground for the curious human and the creative Holy Spirit. Like a quality production, everything depends on the energy, attitude and joy backstage.  Leslie King and Emily Cox are respectively the Pastor and DCE of First Presbyterian Church of Waco, TX.  Leslie is a native of Kansas and Emily a native of Texas.  

2B--Growing in Grace & Gratitude--God’s grace and our response of gratitude are the foundations of the new PC(USA) denominational children’s curriculum. This workshop will provide a hands-on experience with the curriculum and how to use this tool to nurture children’s discipleship through the spiritual practices of hospitality, generosity, and love.  Candace C. Hill is coordinator of educational ministries, Congregational Ministries
Publishing, PC(USA).

2C--Legos, iPads, and Peeps!  Oh My!  In this workshop we will explore a variety of ways, useful for churches of all sizes, to engage children and youth around biblical texts.  Using Legos and blocks to help with understanding Amos and iPads and Peeps (among other things), learn to help children and youth retell the stories of the Bible in their own words.  Karen Wagner is the Associate Pastor at Southminster Presbyterian Church, Prairie Village, KS, and a Certified Christian Educator.

2D--Managing & Balancing Staff Relationships-- Ever felt that working on a staff was crushing your innovative energy?  Wonder if it is possible to work together rather than side by side? Join us as we discuss tactics and strategies for building teamwork in any staff model.   We'll discuss how staff can support and build on the work of one another while allowing autonomy and innovation.  Mary Newberg Gale and Kent Winters-Hazelton serve as the teaching elders of First Presbyterian Church, Lawrence, KS.  They are the longest serving team in the congregation's 157 years.  Both have served on a variety of staff styles and sizes and
have experienced positive and negative staff dynamics.  Kent has been ordained for 30 years and Mary for 10.

2E--Creating a Compassion Fatigue and Resiliency Plan--In this interactive workshop, participants will understand the cause and effect of compassion fatigue.  They will also learn 5 strategies for combating compassion fatigue: Intentionality, self-regulation, self-validation, connection and self-care. We will apply these
personally as well as create a plan to implement these strategies into our ministries. A PCUSA pastor, chaplain and spiritual director, Rev. Anne Lange has worked with individuals, families and communities in grief, loss and
trauma. Anne is certified with the Association of Professional Chaplains and serves on the National Commission for Board Certification. Anne is board secretary of the Presbytery Pastoral Care Network.  
This workshop is
presented by the PPCN.

Block 3 Monday 3:45-5:00

3A--Adult Education - Center Stage-- It can be a challenge keeping adult education center stage in the life of the church. This workshop will address planning, curriculum and teaching methods.  There will also be time for discussion.  If you have challenges with adult education please bring a scenario with you.  It will be part of what
we work through.  Leslie King and Emily Cox are respectively, the Pastor and Director of Christian Education of First Presbyterian Church in Waco, TX.  Emily is a native Texan and Leslie is a native Kansan.  

3B--Alternative Summer Outlets for K-5th and 6th-8th Grades--Looking for something new and different? Vacation Bible School getting old? Congregation small, aging, tired? Well, keep reading! The origins of Vacation
Bible School can be traced back to Hopedale, Ill., in 1894.  So, come to experience and explore alternative ideas; then leave with a toolkit for new summer adventures!  Christy Foster is a ruling elder PC(USA), an
executive camp director for over 12 years.  She has also served in youth ministry and as a Sunday School teacher, VBS director, and workshop leader for several events including Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association.

3C--Exploring the Tool Box for Healthy Ministry--The Presbytery Pastoral Care Network has an online toolbox of resources to care for those involved in ministry. Come and explore resources for self care, care
of staff by the local church and care by the Presbytery.  The toolbox contains many resources for physical, emotional, financial, family, spiritual and vocational health.  Stan Jewell is a retired pastor from Denver,
CO, where he served as COM Chair. He has a D.Min in Pastoral Care from McCormick, Certificate in Spirituality from Columbia and is Vice President of Presbytery Pastoral Care Network.  
This workshop is presented by the PPCN.

3D--Can You Learn to Laugh With God?  We will explore ways that we can draw upon laughter as an antidote to the stresses of working in the church, using its healing properties to contribute to a healthier life for both the church worker and the church. Participants should be prepared to not take themselves too seriously.  Stephen McCutchan, author, humorist, and pastor in the PC(USA), leads conferences and does standup on healthy clergy. His website, www.smccutchan.com, provides information on his 11 books and also a weekly blog on nurturing healthy clergy. This workshop is based on his book God Laughs--Why Don't You?  This workshop is presented by the Presbytery Pastoral Care Network.

3E--Beyond Pick and Choose Theology-- Most youth walk away from confirmation and youth ministry programs with a pick and choose theology that prioritizes individualism. By inadvertently teaching this
theological method we are contributing to the "rise of the nones." This workshop will explore ways to nurture a more robust and sustainable theological method in emerging generations.  John Vest is the Visiting
Assistant Professor of Evangelism at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA. He is co-founder of the Progressive Youth Ministry conference and blogs about his adventures in post-Christendom at
johnvest.com. He is the keynoter for Oasis 2015.

Block 4 Tuesday 9:15-10:30

4A--How Do You Reach Them?  Only 30% of the population learns by hearing, yet most sermons are geared to reach that minority. This experimental, experiential workshop will explore different learning styles, discuss how to reach the other 70% and help to plan innovative, creative worship experiences. Attendees will take a learning style assessment prior to the workshop.  Sarah Butler is an artist, writer and second career teaching elder of a congregation in the midst of redevelopment where worship is aural, visual and conversational.

4B--Bread & Water: Teaching the Sacraments to Children--Learn effective, creative and age-appropriate ways to engage children in the meaning of the Lord’s Supper and of Baptism.  Cheryl Couch-Thomas is Director of Children and Family Ministry at Village Presbyterian, Prairie Village, KS.  Cheryl holds a Master’s Degree in Christian Education from Union Presbyterian Seminary.

4C--Experiencing God: Sensory Spiritual Care Practices--This interactive workshop will introduce or re-familiarize participants with tangible spiritual practices as well as ways of inviting sacred space and sharing.  It will facilitate reflection for incorporating practices into personal life and as well as in the faith community.  A PCUSA pastor, chaplain and spiritual director, Rev. Anne Lange has worked with individuals, families and communities in grief, loss and trauma. Anne is certified with the Association of Professional Chaplains and serves on the National Commission for Board Certification. Anne is board secretary of the Presbytery Pastoral Care Network.  This workshop is presented by the PPCN.

4D--Zentangle: A Sacred Artistic Expression--Zentangles are easy to learn, relaxing, and fun to create. Even if you feel you are art-challenged, Zentangle can be for you. Please join in learning a few techniques and creating art together. Maybe this workshop will help you begin a practice of mindfulness and focus in your ministry setting.  Paula Isgrig is a wife, mother, and pastor who uses Zentangle to begin God-time in the morning and sometimes to unwind at night. Paula is a candidate in Heartland Presbytery, serving a small church.   

4E--More Than Hammers and Paint:  Mission Trip Planning--Mission trips require lots of hard work, but not just with hammers and paint brushes. Come hear about the good and the bad as well as some new ideas! From planning work and housing for your trip, to devotions while you are away, to fundraising, we will cover it all,
and still have time for questions and your own stories.  Rob Monroe is the Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministries at First Presbyterian of Kirkwood, MO. Rob has led mission trips with youth and college students ranging from three days to two weeks.  Joy Myers, Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Edwardsville, IL, began working with youth in 1986 and has completed over 20 summer trips.


Things you might like to know

Event registration

Early bird registration $169 by August 7.  Regular registration $199 by October 6—make your hotel reservation by this date to receive the event rate.  Late registration $219 October 7-21.  A daily rate is available.  For hotel guests, there will be no out-of-pocket meal costs.  If you don’t stay in the Embassy Suites Plaza—Kansas City, you may purchase breakfast from the Embassy Suites for $10.

Oasis is glad to take your check.   Register online at the bottom of this page, select Pay By Check, and send your check to:

Heartland Presbytery/Oasis
3210 Michigan, Kansas City, MO  64109

Your registration will be processed when your check is received.

Cancellation policy--cancel by August 7 to receive a full refund.  Cancel by October 16 to receive $100 refund.  We regret that we are unable to provide refunds for cancellations after October 16.

Oasis will make every effort to accommodate registrations after October 21, including walk-in registrations, at the late or daily rate.

Lodging reservations Embassy Suites Plaza—Kansas CityEmbassy Suites atrium

Make your lodging arrangements here by October 7 to receive the Oasis rate of $112 per night.  Come a day or two early, and/or stay an extra day or two.  Hotel reservations made after October 7 will be subject to availability and at the prevailing rate.

Hotel guests will receive made-to-order breakfast and manager's reception daily.