VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 11/2/23)—Themed “Engaging Intergenerational Faith, Listen. Learn. Live.,” the signature biennial event of American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS)—Space for Grace & Spiritual Caregivers Conference—will be held April 9-11, 2024, in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
The focus on intergenerational faith, which speaks to the need for transformational ministry in and beyond the local church and across generations, was inspired by Colossians 3:16 [CEV]: “Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives, while you use all your wisdom to teach and instruct each other. With thankful hearts, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.”
Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, ABHMS executive director, describes Space for Grace & Spiritual Caregivers Conference 2024 as a unique opportunity for faith leaders of all ages to collectively articulate reflections on innovative approaches to facilitating lifelong faith formation. This cross-generational event will drive rich conversations about various interpretations of Scripture and Christian practices, challenges of institutional life and more fruitful ways to bring Christ into the lives of the faithful.
In addition to bringing together faith leaders and ministry professionals for a thoughtful examination of intergenerational faith, Space for Grace & Spiritual Caregivers Conference 2024 will also be a celebration of Judson Press, ABHMS’ publishing ministry, on its 200th anniversary. According to the Rev. Dr. Cheryl Price, Judson Press publisher, the springtime festivities will be a cornerstone of a year-long jubilee commemorating Judson Press’ unwavering commitment to its time-honored and sacred mission of cultivating Christian leaders and equipping disciples through faith-based literature.
Space for Grace & Spiritual Caregivers Conference 2024 reflects several evolutionary changes. Noting that ABHMS’ previous biennial conferences were fall events, Haggray highlighted the new springtime date, a calendar shift intended to better accommodate the schedules of busy attendees. Another key difference designed to elevate interest across a geographically diverse audience, one that spans the United States and Puerto Rico, is the choice given to registrants to attend either in person or online. Haggray acknowledges that the virtual option for 2024 is a response to demand. “Our constituencies have expressed their desire for online accessibility,” he said. “We heard them and have responded.”
Another modification for 2024 involves the Spiritual Caregivers Conference. ABHMS’ gathering for chaplains, pastoral counselors, spiritual directors and specialized ministers was a distinct event in 2022, held immediately before Space for Grace. The two conferences are now fully integrated.
Commenting on the change, the Rev. Dr. Patricia Murphy, BCC, the American Baptist ecclesiastical endorser in ABHMS’ Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministries unit, said, “We are looking forward to the opportunity to integrate alongside other ministry professionals who endeavor to glean insights from an intergenerational perspective.”
Intensive preparation by the event planning team has resulted in a program of thought-provoking learning experiences and inspired keynote addresses. The learning experiences will examine a wide range of issues: intergenerational collaborations in various ministry settings; writing and marketing books as a ministry; connections between the body, mind and soul; and mental health challenges. Keynote speakers will include the Rev. Dr. Michael Koppel, professor of pastoral theology and congregational care at Wesley Theological Seminary; the Rev. Abner Cotto-Bonilla, ABHMS’ national coordinator for Latino Ministries; the Rev. Dr. Sarah Drummond, founding dean of Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School; the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund; the Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim, professor of theology at Earlham School of Religion; and the Rev. Dr. Theresa S. Thames, associate dean of Religious Life and the Chapel at Princeton University.
Registration is expected to open the week of November 6. For current information about Space for Grace & Spiritual Caregivers Conference 2024, visit abhms.org.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.