NYMS is bringing together a strong lineup of experienced youth ministry trainers, practitioners, counselors, and experts on youth culture who are eager to equip and encourage you with practical ministry strategies, cultural awareness, tools, wisdom, and knowledge that will increase your ministry skills and help you more effectively bring the biblical message of hope to young people and their families.

Plenary Speaker

Julie Lowe

Julie is a counselor and faculty member at CCEF. She holds a MA in Counseling from Biblical Theological Seminary and is a licensed professional counselor with over 22 years of experience. She has extensive experience with marriage, women’s issues, sexual abuse, body image issues, parenting, and child maltreatment, and regularly speaks on these topics. Julie is a registered play therapist and has developed play resources to better serve families and youth. She is leads mandated reporter trainings and provides trainings on child sexual abuse. She has authored: Childproof: Parenting By Faith Not Formula; Building Bridges: Biblical Counseling Activities for Children and Teens; Helping Your Anxious Child: What to Do When Your Worries are Big; and Teens and Suicide: Recognizing the Signs and Sharing the Hope. Julie and her husband, Greg, have six children and serve as foster and adoptive parents.

Dr. Danny Kwon

Danny Kwon, Ph.D., has been the Youth and Family Pastor at his church outside Philadelphia for 29 years and is also an Adjunct Professor of Youth Ministry at Eastern University. He has authored three books, A Youth Worker’s Field Guide to Parents: Understanding Parents of Teenagers and Mission Tripping: A Comprehensive Guide to Youth Ministry Missions (book and team journal).

Dr. Duffy Robbins

David “Duffy” Robbins is Professor of Christian Ministries at Grove City College. Duffy is a respected youth ministry veteran with over forty years of experience in the field. He speaks around the world to teenagers and people who care about teenagers. Duffy also serves as a Teaching Pastor at Faithbridge Church, Spring, Texas, and a faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where he co-leads the doctoral cohorts for Ministry to Emerging Generations. His warm conversational style, coupled with a quick sense of humor and a unique ability to make Scripture come alive, have also made him a popular speaker for Congregations, Parenting Seminars, College chapels, Mens’ Retreats, as well as numerous Family Camps and Conferences. He’s the author of numerous books including Ministry of Nurture, This Way to Youth Ministry: An Introduction to the Adventure, Speaking to Teenagers (co-authored with Doug Fields), Youth Ministry Nuts and Bolts, Enjoy the Silence (co-authored with the lovely Maggie Robbins) and his latest book, Building a Youth Ministry That Builds Disciples. Duffy lives in Cranberry Township, PA with his wife and best friend, Maggie. They have two grown daughters, Erin and Katie.

Dr. Walt Mueller

Dr. Walt Mueller is the founder and President of The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, a ministry that endeavors to increase the ability of home and church to nurture children and teens into a lifetime of biblically-faithful, whole-life Christian discipleship. A 45-year youth ministry veteran and youth culture watcher, Walt is the author of ten books on youth culture, and a long-time trainer of parents, youth workers, and students. He hosts the 1-minute daily CPYU radio show/podcast Youth Culture Today, and the long-form Youth Culture Matters podcast. Walt is a faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where he co-leads the doctoral cohorts for Ministry to Emerging Generations. A husband, father of four, and grandfather of 6, Walt’s passion to deeply understand today’s youth culture as a pathway to more effective ministry continues to grow.

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the founder of LeaderTreks, an innovative discipleship and leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. He and his wife, Angie, live in Wayne, Illinois. Doug is a graduate of Wheaton College. His passion is using experiential learning to help students and adults grow as leaders. Doug is the author of three books; Student Leader Start Here, The Disconnect and Moving On

Dr. Chris Walker

Dr. Chris Walker (MDiv WTS ’08 and DMin WTS ’19) is Senior Pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Chris taught middle and high school students and served as Athletic Director for five years at Veritas Academy in Leola, PA. He served as Youth Pastor at Westminster from 2013-2020, and has served as Senior Pastor since 2020. Chris lives with his wife, Kate, and five children in Leola, PA.

Dr. John Perritt

Dr. John Perritt (MDiv RTS ’09 & DMin SBTS ’16) served in youth ministry at Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church for over 12 years. Prior to that, he served in youth ministry at First Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, MS. He is the host of RYM’s The Local Youth Worker podcast and editor of the growing library of the “Track” series of booklets for students. He has also published Your Days Are Numbered (2016), What Would Judas Do? (2017), Time Out! The Gift or god of Youth Sports (2018), Bible 101: Living, Loving & Learning God’s Word (2018), Insecure: Fighting Our Lesser Fears with a Greater One (2019), and Mark: How Jesus Changes Everything (2019). He and his wife, Ashleigh, have five children and live in Ridgeland, MS.

Linda Oliver

Linda grew up in California and Tennessee, and has served in student ministries across the southeast. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Lee University, and a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling from Birmingham Theological Seminary. Linda has over ten years of student ministry experience, and is currently a co-host of The Word in Youth Ministry podcast hosted by the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding and partners with Reformed Youth Ministries in several ways, including contributing to their podcast, The Local Youth Worker.

Tony Souder

Tony is the Founder of the Pray for Me Campaign and CEO of One Hundred Years, a family of ministries helping every generation flourish in bringing the greatness of God to each emerging generation. Tony and his bride, Rhonda, live in Chattanooga, TN.

Kyle Hoffsmith

I am the Pastor for Student Ministry at Old North Church in Canfield, OH. My wife Jenna and I met at Millersville University in Pennsylvania and have a daughter named Madelyn. I earned an undergraduate degree in Business Administration and a Master of Divinity degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Student ministry is exciting as these years in a student’s life serve as a launching pad for the rest of their lives. I believe that we need to prepare students for life after high school and that youth ministry is a great place to do this. I am passionate about reminding students that true life is found in Jesus, teaching them how to read the Bible on their own, and breaking down generational barriers within the family of God. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, watching sports, spending time with friends and family, playing table tennis, running, and eating ice cream.

Tim Habecker

Tim joined the staff of Ligonier in 2019. He is a native of Lancaster, PA, thus accounting for his affinity for shoo-fly pie, Turkey Hill ice cream, and the Phillies and Eagles. While attending Geneva College in the mid-90s Tim spent two summers working at camp, first as a counselor and then adventure staff. After graduation and a short stint doing mission work in the hills of West Virginia, Tim landed in Fredericksburg, Virginia (which explains his affinity for pecan pie). There he worked as the youth director and eventually the associate pastor at a local church. Tim and his wife Jo, a Colorado native, met and were married in Fredericksburg and have two children, Alyse and Adam. The four of them love to swim, hike, kayak, and embark on adventures together. Tim enjoys burning wood to keep warm in the winter, using power tools, and trying to fix broken things, all with limited success. He holds an M.A. in experiential education from Prescott College in Arizona, an M.Div. from Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, and is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Robert Row

Robert Row is the Student Ministries Coordinator for seeJesus. seeJesus is a global discipling mission with a core passion for the church to see and reflect the beauty of the Person of Jesus. Robert works with Student Pastors throughout the country cultivating this core passion through interactive studies, seminars, cohorts, and apprenticeships with student groups. Robert served as a Youth Pastor for 20 years and he currently lives on Signal Mountain with his wife Rebecca. They have five children, Emily (In Heaven since 2000), Tyler (Senior at the University of Tennessee), Campbell (Freshman at Covenant College), Laura (10th grade) and Mary Katherine (5th grade). Robert enjoys fly fishing, hiking, camping, landscaping and bonsais.

Dr. Don Shepson

Don is currently a Professor of Bible and Ministry at Grove City College (Grove City, PA). He is also the Associate Rector of College Ministry at Grace Anglican Church. He has studied at Wheaton College, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, and Biola University where he received a Ph.D. in Christian Education and Spiritual Formation. Don also has over 25 years of ministry as a camp director, pastor, professor, and spiritual director. Don’s goal is to strengthen the church through teaching and soul care. “It is my hope to walk with any who attend the Northeast Youth Ministry Summit, that you would find yourself encouraged and strengthened for the ministry the Lord has called you into.”

Ashley Belknap

Ashley Belknap is the Executive Director of Engaging Disability With The Gospel, a ministry that coaches churches to disciple and enfold kids, teens, and adults impacted by disability.  Originally from Greenville, South Carolina, she obtained her undergraduate degrees in Christian Education and Business Administration from Erskine College and her Master’s in Theological Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. While in Jackson, she met and married her husband, John, and has made Mississippi home since. Ashley and John have three young boys, all of whom have unique needs. Her love for ministry, the local church, and families impacted by disability all coalesced in her position with Engaging Disability. She loves coaching pastors, church staff, and volunteers to disciple and enfold kids, teens, and adults who are impacted by disability.  Her approach to disability ministry is an extension of discipleship across every ministry area of the church, rather than a separate set of disability-related programs, making small steps forward possible for every church regardless of size.  Ashley has created and published many adapted discipleship resources that can be found in the Engaging Disability’s store, Simply the Gospel.

Patrick Myers

Patrick and Sandy Myers met at Ligonier Camp in 1995 while on summer staff and were married in August of 1996. In April of 1998, Patrick began working full time at the camp. Patrick has held positions as Assistant Summer Camp Director, Summer Camp Director, Assistant Executive Director, and currently serves as the Executive Director. Prior to working at Ligonier, Patrick and Sandy worked for the Coalition for Christian Outreach at California University of PA. Sandy has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Grove City College and Patrick holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a Master’s degree in Higher Education from Geneva College. Since moving to the camp Patrick and Sandy have had five children: Kaylin, Braden, Mara, Adleigh, and Mallory. The Myers’ family holds on to their family roots by cheering for the Washington Football Team, despite being (probably) the only fans of that persuasion in Western PA. The Myers love to vacation in Chincoteague, VA and can’t imagine a better life than living and working at Ligonier Camp and Conference Center.

Joe Deegan

Joe Deegan will be leading worship at the Summit. A former Youth Director, Joe works full time with RYM staff as the Director of Conferences and Worship Resources Coordinator. Joe is a gifted singer song-writer who released two solo albums before joining RYM: “The Risen King” and “Cover and Title Page”. Under the artist name RYM Worship, Joe has led three album projects: “Promised Land”, “Sing Over Us”, and “A New Creation”. Each album contains original hymns written by Joe as well as some old favorites. These projects and more by RYM Worship are available wherever you stream music. Additional content including some chord charts and curriculum can be found on the RYM Worship page of rym.org or on the RYM Worship YouTube page.