The National Association of Directors of Christian Education (NADCE) held its biennial conference Jan. 12–14 at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Collins, Colo. The theme of the conference, which was delayed from 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was “For All Generations,” based on Psalms 78 and 100.
Kayla McGowan, director of Christian education (DCE) at Our Savior Lutheran Church and School in Aiea, Hawaii, has attended several NADCE conferences over the years, including this one. She said that she goes because “each NADCE conference I’ve attended has affirmed me in my calling, refreshed my spirit for continued ministry, equipped me with knowledge to bring home to my congregation, and reminded me of the power that comes from the Body of Christ gathering together.”
Some of the topics addressed at the 2022 conference were:
- The Changing Face of Discipleship;
- Mental Health Issues in COVID Times;
- Social Justice and the Church;
- The Prodigal Child;
- Student Depression, Suicide and Anxiety; and
- Sexual Identity.
In addition to time for learning and discussion, the conference also included opportunities for fellowship, sightseeing and worship, as well as an evening banquet that featured the presentation of the NADCE awards, given at each biennial conference. This year’s award recipients were:
- Master DCE — Sandy Wendelin, director of Discipleship at Bethlehem Lutheran Church & School in Denver, Colo.;
- Outstanding New DCE — Christine Young, director of Christian education at Grace Lutheran Church in Menomonee Falls, Wis.; and
- Dale E. Griffin Master Statesman Award (given to individuals making a significant impact on DCE ministry) — Dr. Mark Blanke, director of the DCE program at Concordia University, Nebraska, Seward, Neb.
The award recipients were nominated and selected by their peers and ministry partners.
In a video shared on social media, Julia Tougas, director of Youth and Family Ministries at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Lodi, Calif., said her takeaway from the conference was the importance of being grounded not in herself, or in her success as a DCE, but in Christ. She said that when she is so grounded, even on difficult days, she can still “love other people and show them who Christ is.” Tougas, a student at Concordia University Irvine, Irvine, Calif., added that she is looking forward to the next NADCE conference because “I’m excited to see everyone I got to meet … and to learn more.”
NADCE is the professional organization for Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) directors of Christian education and other church professionals responsible for teaching the faith in a variety of settings, including local parishes, schools, districts and universities. The organization’s mission is to support and promote Christian education by providing advocacy, professional connections and resources for its members. Members pay an annual fee to join, but the fee is waived for DCE students and interns. Membership includes a subscription to the NADCE Quarterly, which offers reflections and resources for DCEs. Visit the NADCE website for more information.
Posted Feb. 15, 2022