Youth and family ministry relies on a network of faithful and hardworking youthworkers:

  • Youthworkers are congregational volunteers.
  • Youthworkers are pastors.
  • Youthworkers are congregational staff.
  • Youtworkers are parents.
  • Youthworkers accompany, mentor, and witness faith formation to the generation of children and youth, who are growing into their own powers as children of God, and disciples of Jesus in their congregations, homes, communities, and the world. In this synod we value our network of youthworkers, and offer a variety of continuing education and networking events. This page offers links to a number of these resources.

REVIVE: A Retreat for Youth Ministers

The Lower Susquehanna Synod Office for Faith Formation and Youth Ministry invites you to join us for a weekend of continuing education, fellowship, rest and spiritual renewal at REVIVE 2023. The REVIVE retreat for youth ministry volunteers and professionals is scheduled for August 18-20, 2023, in Zinn-Tozer Lodge at Camp Nawakwa. This is the weekend following the end of the summer camp season, so the pool will still be open, but there will be a lot less people at camp, giving us the ideal setting for a weekend of reviving your energy for the fall ramp-up of faith formation and youth ministry programming. We are looking to strike a balance between fellowship with peers, fun, inspiring worship and prayerful practices, plus informative presentations that will help you on the front-lines of youth and family ministry this fall and beyond. Watch for the full schedule coming soon, but Friday will begin with ‘casual’ arrival and a chance to come to camp to nap, hike, swim, meditate or converse with colleagues. We will begin Friday evening officially at 7:00 PM with an ELCA Youth Gathering briefing and evening vespers, followed by a ‘reception’ with wine, cheeses, coffees, teas, and other appetizers and desserts.

Register at: /youth-workers-retreat/

Revive Presenters & Workshops

Wrapped in God’s Grace: Consolation in Times of Trauma

Deacon Marsha Roscoe (she/her), Assistant to the Bishop for Communications and Spiritual Care

Trauma is our response to any experience that overwhelms our nervous systems and alters the way we process and recall memories. In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.” During this interactive conversation, we will explore the gift of sharing God’s consolation through a better understanding of trauma basics and its affects on relationships to self, others, and the capacity for growth and connection.  Because trauma effects the four necessary conditions for survival as humans: safety, security, connection, and belonging, we will discover how healing and resiliency are nurtured through safety, security, empowerment, voice, and choice.

Marsha is an ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran in America (ELCA), and has taught and ministered in areas of spiritual formation and missional outreach for more than two decades. As a trauma-sensitive writer, speaker, spiritual director, retreat guide and spiritual growth consultant, Marsha is passionate about nurturing deeper relationships with God. As founder of Breathing in Christ, Marsha has spent most of her working life helping others fall in love with Jesus over and over again. She and her husband, Jason, and their daughter Gina, live in Hershey, Pennsylvania. She holds a master’s degree in Ministerial Studies from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (now United Lutheran Seminary) with concentrations in spiritual formation and missional outreach.

The Impact of Trauma on the Teenage Brain

Lauren Bricker (she/her), LCSW, Clinical Youth Social Worker, John Harris High School

The impact of trauma on teens can be debilitating. Lauren faces these realities on a daily basis and has learned how to accompany teens ‘back’ from triggering incidents so that they can function and learn in the moment. She talk about the teenage brain and how it functions and introduce some practical ideas for youth ministers on how to care for teens experiencing trauma and anxiety.

Lauren is a clinical social worker currently serving as a School Social Worker at John Harris HS in Harrisburg City providing support to students in grades 9-12. She has worked within the Harrisburg City School District for the majority of her career – providing mental health therapy and resource connections to students and families from elementary levels through high school. Lauren has dedicated her social work career to helping students, families and teaching staff obtain crucial information related to mental health, trauma and brain science as it relates to learning and growing. Social Justice advocacy and education is at the core of her soul’s work and she has worked extensively with teaching professionals to engage in courageous conversations and honest dialogue to better support students in need.

Standing Tall On the Shoulders of Those Who Have Come Before Us

Rev. Elizabeth Peter-Eckman (she/her), St John Lutheran, Shiremanstown

Pastor Elizabeth is excited to share her lessons learned as a first call pastor who began her ministry in the pandemic and jumped in when the youth director position became vacant. From a surviving youth group to a now thriving one, hear how Pastor Elizabeth views youth ministry, helped integrate the youth holistically into the congregation’s life and the lessons learned along the way in our ever changing world.

Rev. Elizabeth Peter Eckman is an Associate Pastor at St. John’s Lutheran church in Shiremanstown, PA. St. John’s is an ELCA congregation outside of Harrisburg, PA. She received her M.Div. from United Lutheran Seminary in 2020. Before seminary she attended Penn State University and received a Bachelors in Telecommunications management. Elizabeth worked for CBS21 News in Harrisburg when she felt she had a call to go to seminary. She wanted to be a light for others in the bleak places of the world. Elizabeth has been on planning teams for the 2015, 2018, part of 2022 and 2024 youth gatherings. She has loved being called to her home synod where she can work on the youth events that connected her to God in her high school days. Elizabeth helps to plan annual Winterfest and ALIVE event, the High school and Middle school faith formation events in the Lower Susquehanna Synod. She loves to sing with her sisters, play the cajon, exercise and pet her cats. The Psalms are her favorite book in the bible and she takes naps everyday as her favorite spiritual practice.
You can find one of her sermons published in Exodus Preaching: Crafting Sermons about Justice and Hope by Kenyatta Gilbert
You can find her speaking at the youth gathering on the Ethiopian Eunuch here: Day 3 Mass Gathering – Elizabeth Peter ELCA Youth Gathering

Creating Youth Group Curriculum & Knowing When To Use It

Kellen Michalowski (he/him), Youth Director, St Mark’s Lutheran, Harrisburg and St Peter’s Lutheran, Mechanicsburg; LSS Communications Staff

From writing a single youth group lesson to developing a theme, meetings, and retreats for an entire year of youth ministry with a scriptural basis, it can be hard to know where to start. This workshop will walk you through the process of developing, writing, and implementing youth ministry curriculum for your congregation. We’ll work to develop ideas and curriculum in real time, so all participants will walk away from the workshop with ideas and outlines for the next year of their youth ministry curriculum

Kellen is a congregational youthworker at two different congregations in the Lower Susquehanna Synod, works in communications for the Synod Office, and occasional camp photographer/cook/AV technician/speaker/whatever else gets thrown his way. He’s worked to develop cohesive curriculums based on scriptural themes for confirmation camps, youth retreats, mission trips, synod youth events, and yearly youth group curriculum. He also loves to cook, play D&D, and buy more books than he’ll ever have time to read.

‘Actually Fun’ Youth Group Games

Zach Hartman (he/him), Web Influencer and Designer, and Youth Director, St Matthew Lutheran in BelAir, MD

Zach was taught by his own youth director (his dad!) that any lesson that you teach resonates much more strongly with young people if there is a powerful related experience to go alongside it. His web resource ‘Actually Fun’ features youth group games played by youth and described in fun detail in short, easy to understand videos. In this session we’ll explore how playing games helps develop strong bonds between the members of your group, but also how games can be used to get your message across in a more meaningful way. We’ll also get to see a little behind-the-scenes of what it looks like to produce a YouTube video and how its impact can reach a global scale.

Zach grew up attending youth group at Tree of Life Church in Harrisburg, and now has his own group at a church called St Matthew in Bel Air, Maryland. While planning his youth group meetings, he noticed that nearly every game that he could find online was either the same games our young people have played hundreds of times before, or they just simply weren’t any fun in practice. He realized that he could combine what he’d learned from his full-time job of being a professional YouTuber with over a decade’s worth of experience participating in his own youth group to create a resource where leaders could quickly and easily find games to play with their group that were actually fun. In January of this year Zach started a YouTube channel that is home to dozens of tutorial-style videos that make it easy for leaders of youth groups, scouts, students, or any other group to find games that their young people will actually want to play.

Events + Resources + Links

Certificate in Congregational Faith Formation
formerly Youth Ministry Certification School

This course is offered over a seven month period, in two-day increments, affording the congregational volunteer working in a full-time secular vocation, to attend without losing too many vacation days in one calendar year. The course includes theological, practical and theoretical training in developing a comprehensive congregational faith formation ministry. Alumni of the course develop a one-year plan for implementing an integrated faith formation strategy. Course tuition is $2,500.00, and a new course launches every fall. For more details on the 2022-2023 course, and to learn how to register, visit: