Kindling Conference resource wrap-up
Kindling Conference resource wrap-up


One of my most important jobs as a faith resource curator is winnowing down large amounts of material and recommending short lists of important and manageable chunks. That’s especially true of conference resources, particularly when those conferences generate a lot of strong video.

As listeners to our Easter People Podcast already know, I attended the Kindling Conference for Young Adult and Campus Ministry Leaders last month in Minneapolis. Here’s what I’m still chewing on from the conference; I hope others find it useful as well.

An intro to community organizing by two young adult practitioners

Our opening-night session with organizers Kristen Kane-Osorto and Bianca Vaquez was spiritually grounded and really empowering. I so appreciated the balance of theoretical information (organizing cycles, one-on-one meeting outlines, etc.) with stories of these principles at work and the opportunity to practice them ourselves.

It looks like perhaps the cameras weren’t yet rolling for this session, so I’ve pulled out a selection of Tweets to summarize some of what we covered.

Sound helpful? I bet if you had questions, Kristen and Bianca would be willing to field them!

A big-picture briefing on Next Generational Latinos

Anthony Guillén began his presentation with a word-association exercise. He admitted he was surprised by the diverse and roundly positive words the leaders present associated with the word Latino:

Most of the times when I ask that question … I hear a whole different list. I hear poor, I hear migrant, I hear Spanish-speaking, I hear dark-skinned, I hear uneducated, recently arrived, farm workers, poverty, gang. Most of the words that I get are descriptive of a very small segment of who Latinos are. But it’s the picture that’s often in front of a lot of our parishioners and a lot of our world … My task is to try to help people get a feel for who Latinos are and the gifts we bring to the church.

He does that job incredibly well, particularly the translation for a faith context of data from government and marketing sources (like Hispanicize).

Watch Anthony’s presentation here. If you’re pressed for time, start at 23:06 and check out the next twelve minutes or so.

A chance to teach each other using Open Space Technology

Though packed with valuable plenary time, this was a “workshop-less” conference. Instead, break-out groups formed in a fairly organic and ad hoc manner after each plenary. As plenary speaker Tom Brackett said, “Open Space Technology lets us trust that the Holy Spirit is guiding our conversations.”

We didn’t use the full-on Open Space process at Kindling, but I think it’s fascinating to peek in on a company doing just that. Check out this video for a look at how Open Space Technology could structure your next meeting or work session.

A continuing conversation about campus ministry funding

I attended an Open Space conversation about campus ministry funding convened by conference organizer Mike Angell and Episcopal Church Foundation representative Miguel Escobar.

Miguel helped us see the big picture about how the pressure on the middle class is affecting philanthropy across American culture and forcing many ministries to diversify the income streams that support their work. Mike and Miguel both offered some stories about cultivating relationships with major donors.

Two of my big takeaways were to focus first on building a shared sense of mission with potential donors and, perhaps even more importantly, to seek out experienced mentors who already have experience navigating “the big ask.”

Mike offered to have a conversation with anyone interested in beginning this sort of work. Miguel, or someone else who was present, also recommended David Sternberg’s Fearless Fundraising.

I’m sure this won’t be the last conversation on this topic for a community that has learned it can no longer depend on traditional ecclesial funding streams.

A story about a community funeral and its original ‘yes’

Tom Brackett’s work equipping Episcopal leaders for transformative evangelism often focuses on helping them say “no” to some business-as-usual work in order to get back to the “original yes” that attracted so many of us to ministry in the first place.

Perhaps the highlight of a conference full of great storytelling was this story about a funeral that touched many lives in a somewhat uncommon way.

Check the Episcopal Young Adults YouTube channel for several more remarkable faith stories from conference participants.

A fun chat about young adults and service

Since it’s blatantly self-promotional, I’ll keep to a minimum my commendation of the Easter People Podcast, episode 19, which was recorded live at the Kindling Conference. It’s not ourselves that we proclaim, it’s Mike Angell, Amity Carrubba, and their rich reflections on service and community in Episcopal Service Corps and Young Adults Service Corps. Thanks for sitting in, Mike and Amity.

A remarkable vision of a vibrant house church in action

Tom Brackett’s partner-in-reflection was Ryan Marsh of Church of the Beloved in Seattle. Other than to say “hang in there” with the audio quality, I think I’ll let the video Ryan showed speak for itself. Watch it here (5:32–9:55).

What were your favorite moments and resources from the Kindling Conference? What did I miss? Let us know in the comments.

Kyle Matthew Oliver (@kmoliver) is the digital missioner and learning lab coordinator in the Center for the Ministry of Teaching.

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