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

Darby Strickland

Darby is a faculty member and counselor at CCEF, where she has served since 2003. She has a master of divinity with a counseling emphasis from Westminster Theological Seminary. Darby brings particular passion and expertise in helping the vulnerable and oppressed, especially women in abusive marriages. She has contributed to Church Cares and the PCA Domestic Abuse & Sex Assault church training materials. She has counseled in a missionary church setting and has also held leadership roles in women’s ministry. She is the author of Is it Abuse? (P&R, 2020), has written a handful of minibooks, and has contributed to several other books.

Evening Preacher

Dr. John Currie

Dr. John Currie is professor of pastoral theology at Westminster Theological Seminary.

Dr. Currie’s academic interests include expository preaching and pastoral leadership. Dr. Currie has extensive pastoral experience and is an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Before serving at Redeemer OPC, Currie also served as a Teaching Pastor at Church of the Saviour in Wayne, Pennsylvania, as a pastor at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Ambler, Pennsylvania, and as a Senior Pastor at Grand Prairie Alliance Church in Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada. In addition, Dr. Currie has served as a Youth Pastor.

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.

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.

Michael Hall

Michael is the Director of Training with RYM where he leads efforts to equip, connect, and encourage youth ministry leaders. Before joining RYM full time he was a Youth Pastor in churches in South Carolina, Missouri, and Virginia.  Michael attended Covenant Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. He and his wife Kirby have three children and live in Charlottesville, VA.

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. 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. 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 “Track” series booklets for students. He has also published Social Media Pressure: Finding Peace Alongside Jesus (2023), 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.

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 chord charts and curriculum, can be found on the RYM Worship webpage or on the RYM Worship YouTube page.

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.

Dr. David Correa López

David serves as the Senior Pastor of “Jesus” Presbyterian Church in Progreso, Yucatán, México and as the Director of the Next Institute Mexico a training program for youth ministry, and as professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at “San Pablo” Theological Seminary in, Mérida, Yucatán, México. He holds a Bachelor in Theology from “San Pablo” Theological Seminary, a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies, an M.Div. Equivalency and a Doctor of Ministry from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. He has been involved in youth ministry for over 30 years. David lives in Progreso, Yucatán and is married to Grace and has three sons: David, Abner and Joel.

Kerry Trunfio

Kerry graduated from Gordon College in 2012 with a degree in Christian Ministry with a Concentration in Youth Ministry. She is passionate about students of all ages knowing the relentless love of the Savior. She lives in Haverhill, MA with her husband Joel and two young daughters, Cora and Maya. Kerry is a CPYU Research Fellow and serves as Director of Youth Education, Youth Ministry and Local Outreach at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Topsfield, MA.

Dr. Jason Engle

Jason and his wife Erin live in Roxboro, NC, and have three children. Jason has served in student ministry for 20 years, and as Pastor of Students and Discipleship at Westwood Baptist Church since 2006. A graduate of North Greenville University (B.A.), Liberty University (M.A.), and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Jason earned his Doctorate of Education from Southeastern in 2021 with a focus in student ministry and discipleship. He is a CPYU research fellow and is a regular contributor at Youth Pastor Theologian and Youth Ministry Roundtable. Jason is passionate about leading students to know and supremely treasure Jesus, and about encouraging student ministry leaders to take seriously the sacred calling of shepherding students and families toward spiritual maturity.

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.

Travis Deans

Travis Deans is the northeast regional coordinator with the National Network of Youth Ministries and has been in full-time youth ministry since 1996 as a youth pastor, para-church ministry leader, and youth network coordinator. Travis is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and regularly coaches youth pastors on how to equip their students to go out and do ministry in the world in which they live. Travis, his wife Judy, and their four children live in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

Marty Sweeney

Marty started Matthias Media in North America in 2006. Previously he was a full-time pastor and since then he has returned to pastoral ministry (part-time). He oversees an apprenticeship program and small groups at Old North Church. He lives in Poland, Ohio with his wife Abby and their four children (and a standard poodle named Theophilus). He is the co-author ofThe Small Group and the Vine(with Tony Payne).

Dr. Scott Shidemantle

Dr. Scott Shidemantle is Professor of Biblical Studies & Coordinator of the Bible Core at Geneva College, where he has served since 1997. He has an MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a ThM in New Testament from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a PhD in New Testament from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. In addition to his academic work, Scott also serves as a Ruling Elder at Chapel Presbyterian Church (PCA), where he serves as the chairman of the Youth Ministry Committee. His wife Wendy Shidemantle is Associate Professor of Spanish at Geneva College. Scott and Wendy have two teenage sons, John and Luke.