Welcome
We are excited to offer a special conference that seeks to address the needs of outdoor ministry and youth ministry leaders. We hope you will make plans to attend the “Shaping Our Story” Conference at Montreat Conference Center (Montreat, NC) on November 8-12. Registration is now open for this event. Please check out the details below related to this conference and register. Would you be interested in offering a workshop at this event?

Sponsoring Organizations

Endorsing Organizations
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OUR CONFERENCE IS HOSTED BY MONTREAT CONFERENCE CENTER

Nestled in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Montreat is a conference center with roots in the Presbyterian Church (USA). For over 100 years, they have been a place set apart for those who journey seeking a closer relationship with their Creator. Monreat is located just 30 minutes east of Asheville. We hope you will make plans to arrive early or stay after the conference in order to enjoy more of this beautiful part of the world.

Learn more about our host site

OUR THEME

Shaping Our Story: Discovering the Next Chapter in Outdoor and Youth Ministry

After this past year of pandemics, political unrest, and racial tension, youth and outdoor ministry workers are starting to face the realities of what the next chapter holds for our ministry contexts. While there is no way to foreshadow the next conflict, or understand how all will be resolved in our ministries, we can begin to shape how we respond as we move forward in hope. This conference will seek to address how we as ministry professionals and volunteers tell our stories of grief and joy, fear and hope, discomfort and resilience, AND hold all of these feelings as we work together to rebuild community and a sense of belonging.

Our Keynote Presenter

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Natarsha Sanders is a preacher, teacher, and certified life coach who centers her work on the intersections between wholeness, education, and racial justice. For 11 years, she worked as an educator in the state of North Carolina and three years as a district administrator. Natarsha has led staff training on racial identity, served as a camp chaplain at John Knox Ranch (Fischer, TX), and was the keynote speaker for the Multicultural Youth Conference at the Mo-Ranch Presbyterian Assembly (Hunt, TX). She also serves regularly as a speaker for chapel services at Mo-Ranch. Natarsha was the Director of Family Ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Kerrville, TX. Presently, she is the Executive Director of Centering the Sacred, LLC, a platform where she, along with her spouse, Lorenzo Antonio Watson, share stories of their own faith journey experiences, while at the same time providing resources for others. In addition, Natarsha is currently pursuing her Doctor of Educational Ministry degree at Columbia Theological Seminary.

OUR WORSHIP LEADER

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Rev. Pepa Paniagua is a cradle Presbyterian, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She loves the ocean and mountains, she is a SF Giants Fan, and roots for the 49ers, even when they make it hard. She attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wa- the town so nice, they named it twice! After graduating, with degrees in Religion and Gender Studies, she moved to Austin, Texas where she attended Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Despite a proclamation that she would “never live in Dallas,” Pepa has been living in the DFW area, and serving in Grace Presbytery for more than 13 years. After serving congregations in a youth and families capacity, In 2020, Pepa pursued a call to create a more inclusive and affirming space for our LBGTQIA siblings, and those who are not comfortable in "traditional church," and kin∙dom community was born! Pepa and her wife, Kelli, live in McKinney with their dogs, Posey (after Buster Posey of the SF Giants), Opie and Tyson who regularly remind them why they can’t have nice things.

OUR Music LEADER

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Bill Buchanan formed by his experiences as a child and youth through attending Camp New Hope, Presbyterian Point, and Montreat Youth Conferences. After his first call as an associate pastor at Bedford Presbyterian Church, he moved to Asheville, NC where he served at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church. With Aimee Wallis Buchanan, Bill co-founded Asheville Youth Mission, a non-profit ministry that engages youth in mission that is justice oriented and biblically based. This ministry, now known as Youth Mission Co, has expanded to include Raleigh Youth Mission (NC) and Memphis Youth Mission (TN). YMCo plans and leads mission immersion experiences for youth, as well as providing curricula and other programs that can be implemented by youth ministry leaders in their own contexts. Bill has been a part of the stage leadership for numerous retreat and conferences. He received the Life of Ministry award from the Presbyterian Youth Workers Association and the Distinguished Service award from Columbia Theological Seminary.

Our Featured Workshop Presenters

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Dr. Jim Cain is a teambuilding guru and the author of 24 well-loved texts on team and community building activities from around the world, including five new books he wrote during the pandemic. His real-world, in-person, train-the-trainer programs are legendary in the adventure-based learning community and his virtual presentations are popular around the world. Jim’s forte is building unity, community and connection, three things that are definitely in great need after the recent pandemic. He is a frequent presenter at American Camp Association conferences and was part of the leadership at the OMC Great Gathering at Lake Junaluska in 2019. In the past 10 years, Jim has presented more than 1500 programs in 49 states and 28 countries.

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Laura Mariko Cheifetz serves as the Assistant Dean of Admissions, Vocation, and Stewardship at Vanderbilt Divinity School, after having worked in reproductive justice, religious publishing, and theological education. She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Laura is multiracial Asian American of Japanese and white Jewish descent. She is a contributing editor to Inheritance, an independent project and a platform for Asian and Pacific Islander stories, experiences, and reflections that affirm API identity and contribute to a more inclusive and multi-faceted understanding of Christian faith. She is the co-editor of "Race in America: Christians Respond to the Crisis" and co-author and editor of "Church on Purpose: Reinventing Discipleship, Community, and Justice."

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Alex Patchin McNeill is the Executive Director of More Light Presbyterians. He has equipped congregations to live into policy change for inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people and has successfully enacted policies for marriage equality in the Presbyterian Church, USA. As a trained professional coach through the International Coaching Federation, Alex brings a coaching approach to his work with church leaders and congregations seeking to follow God’s call to widen their welcome, increase church vitality, or develop and implement new programs. He has trained hundreds of community leaders, and has played key roles organizing faith communities for marriage equality and legislation to promote LGBTQIA+ rights. Alex was the first openly transgender man ordained in the Presbyterian Church, USA.

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Evan Moilan is a consultant with GSB Fundraising. He has 24 years of experience with executive leadership and board service for non-profits across the United States. Evan is known of his expertise in fundraising, strategic planning, board development, governance, marketing, and branding. Prior to joining GSB Fundraising, he served as Chief Mission Officer for Upbring. a multi-state Christian social service agency in Texas. Additionally, Evan has served in Executive leadership and development roles with a diverse array of non-profits from Christian camp and retreat centers to international global relief agencies. He currently holds a Certified Fundraising Executive credential and serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

CALL FOR PRESENTERS

The Planning Team for the conference is seeking workshop presenters. Our workshop sessions are scheduled throughout the week and are approximately 75 minutes in length. As a community of servant leaders, we do not compensate workshop leaders. If you are not planning on attending the conference as a participant, we are willing to provide you meals and the program participant fee during the day of your session.

Click here for more information

Conference Schedule

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 8
1:00-6:00pm     Hospitality in the Assembly Inn Lobby
1:00     Airport Shuttles Begin
3:00     Check into Rooms
6:00-7:00     Dinner
7:00-7:45     Conference Orientation/Social Time
8:00-8:45     Welcome and Opening Worship
8:45     Hospitality and Snacks

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 9
7:00am     Morning Watch
7:30-8:30     Breakfast
9:00-10:30     Keynote Presentation
10:45-12:00pm     Workshop Session #1
12:00-1:00     Lunch
1:15-2:30     Workshop Session #2
2:45-4:00     Workshop Session #3
4:00-5:00     Free Time
5:00-5:30     Swag Swap
5:30-6:30     Dinner
6:45-8:00     Association Meeting #1
8:15-9:00     Evening Activity (by association)

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 10
7:00am     Morning Watch
7:30-8:30     Breakfast
9:00-10:30     Keynote Presentation
10:45-12:00pm     Exhibit Hall
12:00-1:00     Lunch
1:15     Exhibit Hall Continues
1:30-2:45     Workshop Session #4
3:30     5K Run/Walk
5:00     Exhibit Hall Ends
5:30-6:30     Dinner
6:45-7:30     Worship
7:45-9:00     Storytelling and Snacks

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11
7:00am     Morning Watch
7:30-8:30     Breakfast
9:00-10:30     Keynote Presentation
10:45-12:00pm     Workshop Session #5
12:00-1:00     Lunch
1:15-2:45     Association Meeting #2
3:00-4:15     Workshop Session #6
4:30-6:45     Auction and Dinner
7:00-7:45     Closing Worship
7:45     Hospitality and Snacks

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 12
5:00am     Airport Shuttles Begin
7:00-8:00     Breakfast

WhenWhatWhere
1:00-6:00pmHospitality in the LobbyAssembly Inn
1:00Airport Shuttle BeginAsheville Regional Airport
3:00Check into RoomsAssembly Inn
3:30-5:30Idea Grab Bag for Recreation Leaders (with Jim Cain)Location TBD
6:00-7:00DinnerGalax Dining Room
7:00-7:45Conference Orientation/Social TimeLocation TBD
8:00-8:45Welcome and Opening WorshipUpper Anderson Auditorium
8:45Hospitality and SnacksMultiple Locations
WhenWhatWhere
1:00-6:00pmHospitality in the LobbyAssembly Inn
1:00Airport Shuttle BeginAsheville Regional Airport
3:00Check into RoomsAssembly Inn
3:30-5:30Idea Grab Bag for Recreation Leaders (with Jim Cain)Location TBD
6:00-7:00DinnerGalax Dining Room
7:00-7:45Conference Orientation/Social TimeLocation TBD
8:00-8:45Welcome and Opening WorshipUpper Anderson Auditorium
8:45Hospitality and SnacksMultiple Locations

CALL FOR  SPONSORS

Perhaps you know a company or organization that would like to be represented at the “Shaping Our Story” Conference. Our exhibit hall is sold out, but we still have sponsorship opportunities available. This allows companies and organizations to participate in the conference without even traveling to North Carolina. We hope you will consider the possibilities by clicking the link below.

Register Now
 
Lodging

We have a variety of lodging options for your four-night stay during the conference. All of the accommodations are located around Lake Susan are an easy walk to meals, workshops, and plenary sessions. For families that will be attending the event, we suggest booking adjoining rooms with a shared bath (cots are also available).

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Assembly Inn
Located at the heart of the conference center overlooking Lake Susan, the historic and newly-renovated Assembly Inn accommodates guests in 100 single and double occupancy rooms. All rooms have either one king bed, one queen bed, or two twin beds. A beautiful lobby and the Galax dining hall are located inside Assembly Inn.

Assembly Inn (private bath, single occupancy)    $321.00 (limited availability)
Assembly Inn (private bath, double occupancy)   $160.50
Assembly Inn (shared bath, single occupancy)    $256.80
Assembly Inn (shared bath, double occupancy)   $128.40


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Winsborough Lodge
Located just across the lake from Assembly Inn, Winsborough is a charming stone lodge with simple, yet comfortable accommodations. Guest rooms in the Winsborough are attached via a connecting bath. Recently updated, the lobby houses a piano, a grand fireplace, and comfortable seating.

Winsborough (shared bath, single occupancy)     $214.00
Winsborough (shared bath, double occupancy)    $107.00


MEALS
The conference meals are Monday Dinner through Friday Breakfast. The Galax Dining Room in the Assembly Inn prepares fresh, delicious meals, using quality ingredients. Montreat works hard to source their produce locally through Mountain Foods in nearby Asheville. They use local honey, stone ground grits from Rutherford County, specialty cakes from Lake Lure, and North Carolina pork products. The meats they serve are all natural, free of antibiotics, gluten, and MSG. Their salads are homemade and fresh cut; no bagged products are used.

Adult                     $138.03
Child (Age 5-11)   $70.62
Children under 5   Free

TrANSPORTATION

We will be shuttling participants from and to the Asheville Regional Airport (AVL). The conference center is 35 minutes from the airport. There will be a $20 fee per person for round-trip airport transportation. For arrivals, we ask that you schedule your arrival by 4:30pm on Monday, November 8. For departures, shuttles to the Asheville Regional Airport will run 5:30am to noon on Friday, November 12.

Fee for Round-Trip Shuttle $20.00 per person

Registration Fee

We encourage any one related to outdoor or youth ministry to attend this event. The registration fees for the conference can be found below.

 ParticipantNon-Participating SpouseChildren & Youth
Registration Fee$150$85$75

Cancellation Policy

Prior to October 8, all but $100.00 will be refunded to you. After this date, the entire fee is nonrefundable.

Scholarships

If you need financial assistance in order to attend the conference, please contact
Joel Winchip for PCCCA
Brian Kuhn for PYWA
Bill Bourdon for OMA-UCC
Joe Richards for OMI-UCC.

Register Now

Registration is now available. Please keep in mind that the number of single occupancy rooms in Assembly Inn will be limited. We are using Montreat's online registration system. You will create an event reservation (registration fee, lodging, and/or meals) and then receive a tentative registration confirmation. Montreat will contact you later concerning payment. If you have any questions regarding the registration process, please contact Barry Ecker at barrye@montreat.org.

FAQ

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Gathering As One

A Virtual Outdoor Ministry Conference

November 17th-19th, 2020

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We hope you will be a part of the virtual conference that brought together camp and retreat leaders from all over the United States and Canada. The event is endorsed by the Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association, the Outdoor Ministries Association of the United Church of Christ, the Association of Disciples in Outdoor Ministry, the Outdoor Ministries Association of the Church of the Brethren, and the Outdoor Ministries Institute of the United Church of Canada.