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VOL. 10, NO. 1 ■ JANUARY 2013


by Nicole Lute

firm foundation in biblical truths. Throughout the program, children memorize the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, the Ten Commandments, and selected scriptures such as Psalm 23 and Psalm 100. Bassett confirms this focus on memorization and application of texts helps “kids remember the key teachings for the rest of their lives.” Participating in the Last Supper gives children at Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church a foundation to build on.

AFTER WORKING IN CHILDREN’S MINISTRIES, both Troy Bassett (M.Div. ‘08), pastor of in Rochester, N.Y., and author Tami Thurber (M.A., ‘09) noted that children had an alarmingly low retention rate of the Bible stories they learned in church. And possibly even more alarming, most do not know what they actually believe. In addition, Rebecca Chaffee (C30, M.Div.), program director for children, youth, and family at Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church in DeWitt, N.Y., found it problematic that children are too often excluded from worship services. In response Bassett, Thurber, and Chaffee, among other Northeastern Seminary students and alumni, are effectively reforming ministry to children—rooted in biblical truths to give children a firm foundation to build upon. “When our kids attended Sunday school, we’d ask them what they learned and frequently they couldn’t remember,” Bassett recalls. So when he accepted a role in children’s ministry in 2005 he decided to write his own curriculum to rectify the problem. Bassett says that Kid’s JAM, now used by over 30 churches, is “rooted in faith, wrapped in fun.” Loosely based on Martin Luther’s catechism for children, Kid’s JAM ensures children have a

The Kid’s JAM curriculum acknowledges that 21st century kids have become accustomed to fastpaced, high-quality productions. Accordingly, the program creates a unique set design for each year’s theme, and incorporates drama, art, music, media productions, and engaging teaching. Tami Thurber, much like Bassett, was alarmed to find that while most children can recite Bible stories they do not know what they believe. Her concern is, “if a child leaves home with the understanding of how to live the Christian life without understanding why, then they are much more apt to fall away from their faith.” This motivated Thurber and her husband, Tim, to identify the foundational truths they wanted their three children to understand before they left home. Together they wrote the family devotional Handing It Down: Teaching your Children the Basic Truths of Faith. In it they focus less on Christian behavior and more on Christian beliefs, discussing the foundational truths of the Bible, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, people, and the church. The aim is to help parents realize their importance in their child’s spiritual development and to strengthen their own biblical understanding to better equip them with the Continued on page 2

Reforming Children’s Ministry Children’s Catechism Spring Events Community News

Gifts for Scholarships

tools they need to actively teach biblical doctrine. Informed by Malachi 2:15 the devotional is divided into two sections: Digging Down to convey the biblical truths to an elementary audience; Digging Deeper to convey truths to those who already know the basics. Reforming children’s ministry does not stop with content development. Rebecca Chaffee sees a need to reform children’s worship programs as well. With experience in industrial theatre, music, and drama, Chaffee noticed that children are often excluded from authentic worship experiences because most assume children cannot understand what the rituals symbolize.

Acting out the Bible lesson on Christ the King Sunday at Pebble Hill Presbyterian.

“Children learn best by doing,” notes Chaffee, and “faith practices, routines, rituals, and experiences help children grow worship skills.” So children’s worship at her church now combines all elementaryaged children and continues the routines that began in the sanctuary. Children read prayers, share Bible stories, role play, use figures to act out stories, and practice taking communion followed by a discussion about the significance behind the sacrament. Because, as Chaffee says, “worship is caught rather than taught,” this active involvement in worship allows them to gain a deeper understanding of the Christian faith. Likewise, when children are involved in liturgy and memorizing prayer they come to understand the meaning behind the rituals. The centrality of historical truths is reflected in all three visions for ministry. Recalling his own foundation Bassett shares, “Northeastern

Seminary has helped me to think more critically about what is taught and preached in the local church. My studies helped give me an even greater appreciation for the historical past of the church.” And when he relates research findings from the Barna Group that “what you believe at age 13 is pretty much what you’re going to die believing,” the challenge of vital children’s ministry is all the more keen. As Chaffee reminds us, “children aren’t the future of the church; they are the church now.”

by Nicole Lute

AFTER SPENDING 14 YEARS TEACHING KINDERGARTEN THROUGH 12TH GRADE in Christian schools, Gloria Roorda (M.Div. ‘02, D.Min. ‘12) saw the need to integrate a developmentally appropriate form of Christian catechism in children’s ministry. “Somehow in the excellent Christian education they were receiving, a lesson they were learning was they could not continue to rely on their sense of being loved by God as a foundation for their response to God’s work in their lives.” So writes Roorda in her doctoral dissertation, in reference to the students she taught at a Christian school. Her response was the creation of a catechism-based curriculum for children. For Roorda, pastor of family life ministries at Northgate Free Methodist Church in Batavia, N.Y., the integration of a formal catechism in children’s programs grounds them in historical truths so that their faith is not only an emotive response, but so they have a biblical foundation to “grab onto.” The curriculum is currently in the second year of use at Northgate’s Bible Trek program, a kindergarten through 4th grade program, which has 80 to 100 children enrolled.

Check out the ever-changing list of job opportunities at the career services website . Positions include pastor, residential staff, associate pastor, and more. Also view a list of recent postings around upstate N.Y. here . See if they are a good fit for you. PAGE 2

While many equate catechism to memorizing biblical texts and instruction in rote questions and answers, Roorda’s integration of catechism into children’s programs is based on her belief that “children must be taught to love God with their whole selves, and must learn to love others as an expression of their love for God.” While memorizing texts is still integral to the curriculum, the focus is on children learning about God’s love for them and His command to love ourselves and our neighbors. Thus service learning is emphasized as a means to show love to others. Through projects such as garbage pick-ups, Salvation Army food drives, and card making for nursing home residents, children learn how to express God’s love to those around them, as well as learn that “it is not all about them.” The most important aspect of a child’s spiritual development is their parents, as children are most likely to “mirror their parent’s spiritual life regardless of what programs the child attends,” says Roorda. Accordingly, her program focuses on building a community in which all are seeking to love God and this, in turn, nurtures the child. Every week, parents are sent home with tools to discuss the weekly lessons with their children and Bible verses to memorize, which helps to involve the parent in the child’s faith development. In addition, parents engage in service projects alongside their children, as well as communion services, movie nights, and a mix of other activities. Constrained by pre-existing curricular options that tend to be thematic in nature, Roorda found it important to teach children the continuation of the biblical narrative. To this end, her curriculum is based on the theme “God is writing a story, and you’re in it!” It

focuses on children’s need for the context surrounding Bible stories, and accordingly the duration of the Bible’s narrative span is taught and a timeline is placed in the classroom for children to refer to. Roorda and her team also found that the majority of existing curricular options fail to accommodate multiple learning styles. While serving as a gifted and talented program coordinator during her teaching career, Roorda learned the importance of recognizing different learning needs and of including a variety of ways of learning to accommodate the needs. And so in her curriculum each lesson has logical (such as crossword puzzles), active (such as crab soccer) and creative (such as chalkboard rainbows) elements to ensure that all children are offered an equal opportunity to learn. Likewise she identifies the need for developmentally appropriate activities in Bible lessons and so draws on Bloom’s Taxonomy, a classification of learning objectives, to ensure that the material is age appropriate. For example, during small groups, kindergarten and 1st graders are asked knowledge, comprehension, and application questions, while 2nd and 3rd graders are also asked to synthesize and evaluate information. Roorda credits her time at Northeastern Seminary as “incredibly important” to her curriculum development. Formative experiences included the faith sharing aspect of the master’s program, discussions about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, and the Wesleyan impulse to reach out to others in the name of Jesus. With three years of curriculum written and a fourth on the way, the curriculum may soon be available to other churches.


Gloria Roorda

The Fred and Floy Willmott Foundation has pledged $50,000—$10,000 per year for the next five years—for scholarships. Another anonymous gift of $10,000 in December will provide funds specifically for needy and deserving students. For students like Glen Dornsife (C23) this generosity has made seminary possible. My time at Northeastern Seminary can be summed up with one word— space. NES creates space by providing an educational experience for students from different educational and denominational backgrounds. The result of this intentional space is a unique community, which has profoundly shaped my life. As a result, the education I received gave me a foundation to successfully lead a life of service to God and others.

January 7 to March 29

March 13, 2013

What and who contains the personal experience of God? Does the mere existence of the vessel or person alone make “I AM” perceptible?

Many proposals for church renewal begin by asking the question, “What is wrong with the church?” This conference deliberately avoids this strategy, beginning instead with the question, “What is the nature of the church?” We will then proceed to inquire about the mission of the church and explore the sacramental life of the church. In doing so, our goal is to develop a theological framework within which to think about and to assess the many proposals for church renewal presently swirling around us.

Created by artist Linda Langner, images in Constraints of Tangibility challenge viewers to Light Beam, detail consider a series of questions: Is the intangible authentic when the tangible disintegrates and the only remains are the ethereal imprint or memory of the vessel, experience or person? Is tangibility necessary to validate and affirm the “being” of any person’s existence or experience? This exhibit comprised of painting, tree bark, and found objects is about the intangible intimacy of God and lovers. It addresses the weaving and layered interleaving of soul and grace, the universal essence of joy and sorrow in the objects and people of creation. It is constrained by tangibility yet freed by the possibilities of intangibility. The exhibit is open to the public Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Northeastern Seminary, 2265 Westside Drive, Rochester, N.Y. 14624. For information call 585.594.6800 or contact .


Featured speaker Jason Vickers is associate professor of theology and Wesleyan studies at United Theological Seminary. Plenary sessions include: ■ ■ ■

Good Ground: The Nature of the Church Planting for Abundance: The Mission of the Church Harvest Celebration: The Sacramental Life

Conference details and registration information is available at .

June 18, 2013 April 16, 2013 You can actually feel it—the tension between contextual, age-specific ministry for our students and the value of engaging the whole faith community in their formation. ■

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Are the student ministry silos that have emerged the desired goal or the unintentional result of our efforts? Are we contributing to the generational disconnect by maintaining silos? Does the drive to celebrate distinction inhibit our ability to be a community that journeys together? How do we balance age-appropriate messages and programs so they don’t succumb to the cultural norms that keep the spotlight on self rather than on a Holy God?

Join other youth leaders for a roundtable discussion and complimentary breakfast to discuss key issues facing student ministries. Register at .

Getting your bearings in the ever shifting church of the 21st century can be tricky. Final assessments and absolute pronouncements are elusive as we experience constant reconfiguration. Phyllis Tickle, one of the keenest observers of Christianity in America brings clarity to where we currently stand and where we may be going relative to other parts of God’s church. This one-day conference invites us to join the investigation and conversation as openminded explorers. Tickle leads a discovery of fascinating insights into concerns, organizational patterns, theology, and the most pressing questions facing emergence Christianity. Tickle is founding editor of the Religion Department of Publisher’s Weekly, a frequent resource on religion in America for USA Today, Christian Science Monitor, and New York Times. She is author of The Great Emergence and Emergence Christianity and over two dozen additional books on religion and spirituality. Watch for conference details at phyllis-tickle-emergence-christianity.

Tuesday, February 5 Thursday, February 7

6—7:30 p.m. 4:30—6 p.m.

Thursday, March 21

6—7:30 p.m.

2265 Westside Drive, Rochester Onondaga Community College, Mawhinney Hall, Room 103, Syracuse 2265 Westside Drive, Rochester


The trip to the Holy Land originally scheduled for 2013 has been rescheduled for June 30 to July 15, 2014. Students, alumni, faculty and community members will be alerted when details and registration information become available. In the meantime if you have any questions please direct them to

Alumni News: Niki Brodeur (C20) will be leading a team of senior high and college-aged kids to Kingston, Jamaica this summer to run a sports camp that teaches faith, teamwork, and community to campers ages 10-14 years old. Daniel Carr (C17) serves as the full-time pastor of Cattaraugus and Wesley United Methodist Churches for the Cornerstone District of the Upper New York Annual Conference.

Steve Dunmire and his wife, Tammy

Steve Dunmire (C7) earned his doctor of ministry from the Beeson International Center for Biblical Preaching and Church Leadership at Asbury Seminary. His dissertation title was “Growing Disciples in the Pattern of the Twelve: The Ecclesiola in Ecclesia as a Model for Spiritual Transformation and Local Church Discipleship.” Maurice Hopkins (C21) is a Genesis Conference Ministerial Candidate in the Free Methodist Church. He has served as a per diem Chaplain at Highland Hospital in Rochester since June 2011. He hopes to be an ordained Elder next May. Tracy Johnson (C4) recently became the Assistant Vice Provost for the EOP and Academic Development Programs and the Center for Academic Development Services at the University of Buffalo. Jim (C10) and Deb LaBarr welcomed Noelle Rebekah to their family. She was born December 31 at 7:39 p.m. Jim and Noelle LaBarr

Cynthia Mapstone (C15), who was ordained as an American Baptist Minister in 2009, serves as pastor at Fabius Christian Church. Michele Miner (C20) published The Word of God: Unleashing the Power of Scripture Memorization in November 2012. In the book she “shares her spiritual journey and provides insightful and practical steps and techniques to help others adopt a discipline of Scripture memorization rooted in a relationship with Jesus.” For more information or to purchase the book, visit CrossBooks Publishing . Mark Newland (C8) accepted the head pastorate position at United Church of Pittsford effective December, 2012. Prior to this he served as pastor in two West Virginia churches. Mark Rennard (C22) went on three missions trips in 2012. He attended the Flower City Work Camp in Rochester. He also went with Grace Baptist in Brockport to Millersville, Penn., where they ministered to school-aged participants during an East Coast Arabic Christian Conference. Additionally, he spent three weeks in Willimantic, Conn. with Wycliffe Associates expanding a former camp cottage into furlough and home assignment housing for a Bible translator. Tami Thurber (C19) and her husband, Tim, wrote a family devotional book titled Handing it Down: Teaching your Children the Basic Truths of Faith. For more information about the book, visit . ACTION Partnership, under the leadership of Mark Torrey (C9), is holding a series of planning meetings called ARISE-ASSEMBLE-ACCOMPLISH. Using the principles of Nehemiah to rebuild the wall, they are seeking to build and rebuild the outreach ministry and a unified Church of

Zip-front fleece sweatshirts $40 ▪ Ball caps $15 ▪ T-shirts $12 ▪ Mugs $5 ▪ Window decals $2 To order contact Sarah Beckler at 585.594.6800 or . Give your name, email or phone number, quantity, and size, as needed. Pick up and pay for your order at the reception desk at the Seminary (Rochester campus) or inquire about shipping.


Rochester to make a larger impact on Rochester for the Lord. For more information, visit Stephanie Zeller (M.A. C3, D.Min. C2) formed a ministry, Love Your Law, Inc., whose purpose is to help pastors and churches understand tax and law. Learn more about the ministry at or .

Cohort 31. The Seminary welcomed 26 students this spring to the Rochester and Williamsville campus sites. ■ ■ ■

Average age: 41 51% Male, 49% Female 9 Denominations: Baptist Free Methodist Lutheran Methodist Non-denominational Pentecostal Roman Catholic United Methodist Wesleyan Ethnicity: Black or African American: 52% White: 41% Asian: 7%

Faculty/Staff News: Alumni, faculty and staff enjoyed the dessert reception at the second annual NES Christmas Gathering on December 8.

Student News: As chief of staff for the Latin America Team of Free Methodist World Missions, Allison Coventry (M.Div. C10, D. Min. C9), works with national leaders, church planting, and holistic initiatives in 15 countries, touching 75+ churches and their 9,000+ members. To follow stories, photos and prayer requests visit Dan (C24) and Stephanie Landin had a son, Isaac Daniel Landin, on January 5 at 7:03 p.m. Dan and Isaac Landin

Adjunct professor Vince DiPaola recently hosted a series at Lakeshore Community Church on making a comeback. The series featured three well-known football players—Donald Jones, David Tyree, and Thurman Thomas, as well as Jill Kelly, wife of quarterback Jim Kelly. Peter Englert joined the Seminary as Director of Admissions on January 10. Peter draws from his expertise in the field of admissions having served as senior admission counselor at Valley Forge Christian College and from his experience as a seminarian. He will complete his Master of Arts in Theology this coming August. John Walker, adjunct professor of “Organizational Diagnosis” for the Transformational Leadership program, pastors Faith Christian Center in Rochester, where he has committed to serving the inner city through prayer and sharing God’s love and resources. The Good News recently wrote an article about the church here .


Northeastern Seminary 2265 Westside Drive Rochester, N.Y. 14624 585.594.6800


This issue contains stories about: Reforming Children's Ministry, Children's Catechism, Gifts for Scholarships, Spring Events, and Seminary...