Alex DeJesus is the worship leader of Free Worship, a Christian worship band that ministers weekly at their home church, New Life Covenant in Chicago. Alex and her husband, Anthony Gomez, have dedicated their lives to enriching, inspiring, and raising up worship leaders who love God and God’s people. Their prayer is that their songs would be Holy Spirit-filled and help lead others into his presence.
Monday Morning Seminar
Bill Henson is the founder and president of Lead Them Home, creator of Posture Shift, and author of Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones. He trains national, regional, and local ministry teams across America to extend Christ to LGBT+ persons within a biblical framework. Bill guest lectures at Gordon College and has presented Posture Shift at Denver Seminary and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Friday Night Speaker
Twenty-three years ago Carlos DeVitis spent 12 months asking God, “Are you real?” Then he had an encounter with Jesus Christ. He is now the equipping pastor at Peninsula Covenant Church in Redwood City, California, where he has served for the past 12 years. Prior to that, he was the youth pastor at Pilgrim Covenant Church in Granby, Connecticut, and at Crossview Church in Mankato, Minnesota. Carlos has been married to Emily for 23 years. They have four children.
Danny Bowers has been serving in full-time student and family ministry since 2000. He has a deep passion that the church and the home are the two greatest allies a kid or teen can have. Danny is a lover of his wife, two sons, coffee, football, and the outdoors.
Dominique DuBois Gilliard
Dominique DuBois Gilliard is the director of racial righteousness and reconciliation for the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). He is the author of Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice that Restores, which won the 2018 Book of the Year Award for InterVarsity Press. He also serves on the board of directors for the Christian Community Development Association and Evangelicals for Justice. In 2015, he was selected as one of the ECC’s “40 Under 40” leaders to watch, and Huffington Post named him one of the “Black Christian Leaders Changing the World.” Ordained in the ECC, Dominique has served in pastoral ministry in Atlanta, Chicago, and Oakland. He earned two bachelor’s degrees (in African American studies and history), a master’s degree in history, and a master of divinity degree from North Park Theological Seminary where he currently serves as an adjunct professor.
Erik is the director of Next Gen Ministries for the Pacific Northwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church. He has more than 25 years of youth ministry experience and is passionate about pastoring students and families and integrating students into the life of the church. Prior to this role, Erik served as the associate pastor of youth ministry at First Covenant Church in Portland, Oregon, for 17 years. Erik has a master’s in spiritual formation from George Fox Seminary. He is married to Melanie, and their two children are high school students. On a Saturday, you will find him cycling, motorcycling, watching Star Wars, or playing games with his family.
Ginny Olson is the director of youth ministry for the Northwest Conference of the ECC. She oversees training and support for conference youth workers, and she facilitates current and new conference-wide youth events.
Joel Brand is the youth pastor at Winnetka Covenant Church in Wilmette, Illinois. He graduated from North Park University in 2013 with a degree in youth ministry and earned his master’s of divinity from North Park Theological Seminary in 2017. Creating a culture where relationships with each other and with our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer matter is his main passion in ministry. He has named all his pets after professional athletes, is an avid fan of the show Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives and prefers skim milk to all other types of milk.
Joel Rude has served on staff at four ECC camps and two ECC churches since 1980-ish. Currently executive director of Alpine Camp and Conference Center in southern California, he is developing a well-rounded approach to helping teams identify what prevents the wheels of their tandem bikes from spinning freely when the rubber meets the road. He and his wife, Laurie, have two adult daughters (Cortney and Tierney) and sons-in-law (Chris and Peter) serving within ECC youth ministries and organizations, with their youngest (Caleb) bound for North Park this fall. For fun, he would say, “Let’s go outside!”
Breakout Leader, CovTalk Speaker
Jonathan is an urban ministry leader with a strong passion for reaching youth and young adults at Oakdale Covenant Church in Chicago. He loves the unique challenges of doing ministry in a concrete jungle. Jonathan felt a call to serve people as a young kid after seeing homeless people living under the famous Wacker Drive of downtown Chicago. At age 14, he began preaching for different churches, and he now has more than a decade of experience leading and training ministry teams. Jonathan graduated from Trinity International University with a BA in biblical studies and is currently working on his master’s of urban ministry degree at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is a millennial, social introvert who is trying to envision new ways to bridge gaps between generations and cultures through the love of Christ.
Breakout Leader, CovTalk Speaker
Katy Langley is a passionate leader whose years of experience in youth ministry, humor, spontaneity, ridiculously tall height, and drive to know God more have allowed her to connect to youth of all ages. A native of Southern California, she is currently based in California's Bay Area. You can find her spending her down time exploring nature, enjoying endless craft coffee, and faithfully supporting the unfortunately underrated Anaheim Angels.
Michelle Sanchez is executive minister of Make and Deepen Disciples for the Covenant. Her dream is to foster a multiethnic movement of disciples who make disciples across all ages. Prior to this role, Michelle served as pastor of Christian formation and mission at Highrock Church in the Boston area. She has previously served in leadership for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and worked as an investment banker for Goldman, Sachs & Co. Michelle earned an MDiv and a ThM from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and completed spiritual direction training at Boston College. She loves poetry, cycling, and reading voraciously. She is married to Mickey. As much as they enjoy making and deepening disciples in ministry, they treasure this the most at home with their two children and favorite disciples in the world!
Mike Nunan is a youth worker at Arvada Covenant Church in Colorado. He says he is a better youth pastor when he learns from other youth pastors, and he is eager to learn from his peers at Youth Workers Connection. He is married to his kindergarten sweetheart, Sommer, and they have a four-year-old daughter. He loves competitive cooking shows and 60% of the HGTV lineup (not the $1 million dream house!). People tend to think he is a seven on the enneagram, but he’s really an eight.
Ruby Varghese is the pastor of youth and college-aged ministry at Quest Church in Seattle, Washington. She is originally from the East Coast, but she has been serving in the Seattle area for 12 years. She is currently working on her master’s of divinity through North Park Theological Seminary. Ruby loves to share the love of Christ through leading, equipping, serving, and empowering her leaders and students. She is on the CHIC council and has served on various levels of leadership in her local conference and in the denomination. She is passionate about justice, multiethnic and generational ministry, and creating greater access for all students in the church and community. She has been serving in ministry for almost 20 years. When she’s not in the throes of ministry she loves being with her family, traveling, going to the movies, reading, and listening to music.
Sunday Morning Speaker
Sarah Shin is associate national director of evangelism at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She is a speaker and trainer in ethnicity, evangelism, and the arts. Sarah loves equipping students and churches with tools that integrate evangelism with ethnic reconciliation, justice, and beauty. She has a master’s of arts in theology from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a master’s in city planning and development from MIT. She, her husband, Shin Maeng, live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and love to cook, paint, and host strangers in the city together. They welcomed their baby daughter into the world this past July. Learn more at beyondcolorblind.com and follow her @SarahShinAuthor.
Cohost, CovTalk Speaker
Tara Hollingsworth is a dynamic, enthusiastic youth worker who serves Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As a graduate of North Central University with a bachelor’s in youth ministry, Tara is passionate about giving a message of purpose and hope to the next generation. A lifelong student of youth culture, she has a great hope to see a generation of young people understand who they are in Christ and live in the purpose that God has uniquely given each of them.
Director of Youth Ministry (Saturday Night Speaker)
Tim Ciccone is director of youth ministry for the Evangelical Covenant Church and has a deep passion to serve and encourage youth workers across the denomination. Prior to this role Tim was the pastor of generational discipleship at Hillcrest Covenant Church in the Kansas City area. He earned his MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary and has been serving in the church for more than 24 years. He is passionate about seeing people find and follow Jesus. Tim has been married to Maria for 18 years, and they are parents of four children.