North Park to Host RELOAD - A One Day Training Experience This Weekend

CHICAGO, IL (February 26, 2007) – The Center for Youth Ministry Studies (CYMS) will host RELOAD – A One Day Training Experience on the North Park University campus from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. this Saturday.

The event is yet another indicator of the important role CYMS is playing in influencing approaches to youth ministry across denominational lines, says Alison Burkhardt, assistant director of the Center for Youth Ministry Studies. CYMS is a partnership of North Park University, North Park Theological Seminary (NPTS), and the Department of Christian Formation of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Nearly 350 youth workers from the Midwest are expected to attend RELOAD. Registration is $20.

Chicago is one of only four cities across the country to host a RELOAD event, with the others being held in Los Angeles, Detroit and Boston.

RELOAD is a regional training event of Urban Youth Workers Institute (UYWI), a national organization that will hold a conference in May for roughly 1,600 participants from across the country. That conference is scheduled for May 17-19 at Azusa Pacific University in Los Angeles. Three of the five plenary speakers will be ordained ministers in the Evangelical Covenant Church.

The University’s training of youth ministers, which includes a major emphasis on diversity, has attracted the national attention of college students across the denominational spectrum, Burkhardt says. "North Park is a place where students can come and learn with a diverse group of people from around the country," she explains.

The RELOAD conference this weekend will include speakers Soong-Chan Rah, assistant professor of church growth and evangelism at NPTS; Phil Jackson, pastor of The House Covenant Church, a hip-hop congregation that has been the subject of several national news stories, including a segment on the PBS television show Religion & Ethics; and Alise Barrymore, the University’s chaplain until last year. Also at the conference will be Lina Thompson, who has served as national director of World Vision’s ministry Vision Youth; and Justine Connelly, former national director of Young Life.

Several of the topics covered in the workshops indicate how much youth ministry has changed in recent years. They include "Helping Youth Develop For-Profit Entrepeneurships," "Hip Hop and Youth," and reaching out to "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transexual Youth."

CYMS Director Ginny Olson says that despite the name of the event, she hopes that youth workers not ministering in urban areas will attend. Many of the same issues, including ministering to gangs, are being faced by ministries in suburban and rural areas.

For more information on RELOAD, visit the CYMS web site or call Burkhardt at (773) 244-5207. Visit the national conference’s web site for more information on the May gathering.