John Vest is the co-founder of the Progressive Youth Ministry conference and is entering his 14th year of professional youth ministry. For the past eight years he has served as the Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. He is passionate about adaptive ministry with youth and young adults that is attentive to the ever-changing post-Christendom contexts of North American Protestantism. He envisioned PYM as a community of progressive-minded youth workers seeking to have open and honest conversations about the many ways God is calling us into the future. After the successful launch of PYM in 2014, John is looking forward to expanding both the community and the conversation in 2015. He was thrilled to be part of this unique and historic youth ministry gathering and can’t wait to see what happens when we reconvene next year.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I was ministry material. Prior to devoting myself to full time ministry, I was a singer, performing all over the world in a variety of styles, including opera, jazz and musical theater. I have a Bachelor’s degree in music as well as two graduate degrees in music and theology. After a time away from the Church, the Holy Spirit (disguised as the gruff voice of Mike Yaconelli) blew into my life and I can say with confidence that God had a better plan. I began formal youth ministry more than 15 years ago and serve First Congregational Church in Boulder, CO as their Associate Minister for Youth. I have written no books, abandoned a youth ministry blog and serve on no impressive boards or denominational committees. Instead, I waste most of my time hanging out with teenagers over coffee and burritos, while talking about music, sex and Jesus. It’s awesome. I highly recommend it. I have led more than 75 retreats and mission trips and mentored hundreds of young people, so what I have to offer my colleagues are my experiences, personal stories and theological reflections on what it’s like to raise up a generation of Christians in a post-Christian world. I consider myself evangelical at heart and progressive in thought, which is the tone of the Progressive Youth Ministry conference and why I am excited to be a part of the leadership this year. More importantly, though, I am quite proficient at listening to hip-hop while baking pies, quitting a knitting project in the middle of it, eating whatever my husband cooks for me, singing bad Karaoke well, shoe shopping, avoiding the gym, being a Mom to two adorable preschoolers, scanning art for my next tattoo, getting humble real quick and trusting God with it all.
DANIEL WHITE HODGE
Daniel White Hodge is the director of The Center For Youth Ministry Studies and head of the Youth Ministry Major at North Park University in Chicago. With over 20 years of youth ministry experience, Dan is excited about this new emerging generation of youth and the energy, direction, and possibilities they bring. His research is at the intersection of the profane, the secular, and the sacred within youth and adolescent culture as it relates back to the Gospel. He’s really interested in issues of race, gender, & class within youth ministry and the global phenomena of Hip Hop Culture. Dan is married to his life partner, Emily and they have a 7 year old named Mahalia who keeps them on their toes! The White Hodge family is also accompanied by Scooter (the dog), Greta (the cat), and Nika (the Cat # 2). Dan is also an avid BBQ’er and has competed when he lived in California. He’s most proud of his brisket and tri-tip…(it is THAT good!). Dan is also a wet shaver and believes all should leave their cartridge razors for the single blade and badger brush! The conversation of progressive youth ministry is one Dan has been anticipating for a long time and is excited to join in on the conversation to create new pathways in the field of youth ministry. You can find out more about Dan at www.whitehodge.com or follow him on Twitter @danwhitehodge.