Here is the list of breakouts coming to SPARK 2019!


Girls Only: Discussion Panel

  • YMT female youth members and Dawn Landman (facilitator and YMT volunteer adult advisor)

Join other girls as we discuss topics that matter to you! You will have the opportunity to ask questions and hear feedback from other girls who are in the same boat. We want to provide a safe environment for all young women to share their questions, however, questions will be monitored by an female adult advisor.

Guys Only: "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to a Godly Life"

  • Pastor Ross Pryor, Pastor of West Washington UMC and Jefferson Avenue UMC

Young men are drowning in a sea of impurity and dirtiness.  Everywhere we look we find the desire to lead unclean lives and hurt others in the process.  How do we stay pure in a filthy environment?  We cannot do this on our own but must have the strength and wisdom to stand up to the tempting influences around us.  Where can we find that strength and wisdom? By reading God’s Word and doing what it says.  Come and learn how God’s Word will guide you towards a life of integrity.

About Pastor Ross:

Pastor Ross Pryor is an Elder in the United Methodist Church, currently serving at Jefferson Ave. UMC and West Washington UMC, both located in the City of Washington. Ross grew up in New Kensington, Pa., and earned a Bachelor’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Divinity degree from the Methodist Theological School in Ohio. Ross has been working with conference youth since 2005 and is the proud father of one son, Lawrence.


I Want to Know More About the Conference Youth Ministry Team!

  • Wiley Bozada and other Youth Ministry Team members

Join members of the conference youth ministry team and find out more about what the YMT does and who they are. Play some games and activities and get answers to questions like, "What is the YMT?" "How do I join?" "What types of things do you do?"

About Wiley:

Wiley serves as the YMT Vice President and has lots of great ideas about YMT. He is a senior in high school in the Avonworth School District. He is on the swim team and loves serving his community. He loves coordinating the dodgeball tournament at SPARK every year as well!


Around the World in Mission

  • Sandra Matoushaya, Conference Mission Engagement Coordinator

Come and find out about our wonderful partnerships around the world, and how you can play a part in impacting someone’s life. Everyone plays a part in mission as we are called to be one body. 

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,” Philippians‬ ‭2:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

About Sandra:

Sandra Matoushaya is a native of Zimbabwe and coordinates the Western PA Zimbabwe Partnership. She has always had a desire to help as many people as she can, in particular people from Zimbabwe. After receiving her Masters degree in international development, she had hoped to work for an Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) or non-profit to gain experience that could be applied in Zimbabwe. But God had other plans for her by providing the opportunity to work on the Conference staff. With the partnership not only does she assist in fundraising for projects in Zimbabwe, but helps to build relationships between Christians in both her native land and the United States.


Fully Connected: Mark 11:12-14

  • Big Al Cherry, SPARK 2019 DJ

Regardless of age, race, gender, or religious association, there is one thing that every person carries with them — a charger. The charger has become the most valuable accessory and necessity of our lives! Who can live with a dead device?! So, it is vitally important to make sure that your device is “fully connected” when the charger is in use. During this session, big AL will take you on one of the wildest, humorous rides of exploring scripture while bringing it alive in this iGeneration.

About Big Al:

As a child, music was an escape route into a limitless realm of comfort and joy to Big Al Cherry. This medium was the tool that God used to draw him into a relationship with the Lord. He actually accepted salvation in his bedroom while listening to gospel music. Since that time, his singing ability became an expression of his love for Jesus Christ.

During his college career at Grambling State University, the Lord allowed him to serve as praise and worship leader for a campus ministry and a local church. After accepting the call of God to youth ministry, big AL served his home church as youth pastor for more than a decade. Simultaneously, big AL took on the role of educator. In addition to music and preaching, he served as the mathematics department head of Richwood High School, teaching Geometry, Trigonometry, AP Calculus; and administering dual-enrollment for the University of Louisiana-Monroe in College Algebra, Calculus I, Statistics, and Psychology. big AL used the classroom as an extension of his ministry to be an example and role model to youths in inner-city America.

Throughout his years of as an educator and youth pastor, Al came to understand the responsibility of having a special gift from God that he can use to draw people closer to HIM. He firmly believes that ministry is far more important than artistry, and it is his sincere prayer that God will use his music to lead people to Christ — just as he was.

Big AL is currently traveling throughout the country, and abroad, performing and speaking to all ages, all races, and all denominations! Whether sharing his story, performing songs, entertaining an audience, and/or preaching the Gospel, big AL definitely shares the message of love…the message of hope…the message of peace…the message of Jesus Christ – like no one else!!


What's the Big Deal? A Discussion on Microagressions and Racism

  •  Andrew Chung, YMT and UMC Global Ministries board member, and Sarah Gallagher, YMT

Racism today exists in many ways, both intentionally and unintentionally. Microaggressions are an unconscious way people can be driven apart. In a diverse and global church, it is important that we are aware of such actions and know how to respond. Youth will learn about this subject and be challenged to think about how it affects their everyday lives.    

About Andrew and Sarah:

Andrew Chung is the YMT Treasurer and a member of the Board of Directors for GBGM. With GBGM, he is a member of the Committee on Eliminating Institutional Racism. Out of church, he is involved in the Robotics Club as a junior at Greensburg Salem HS and enjoys playing the violin.

Sarah Gallagher is a previous YSF Coordinator and has been involved in YMT for 4 years. Within her church she has been involved with the church choir, Christmas cantata, and helper for children’s Sunday School. Outside of her church, Sarah, is in the marching band and golf team as a junior at Gateway High School.


Social Media and You

  • Jonathan Smith, Youth Director at Christ UMC in Franklin, Pa

This breakout will help youth make good choices when it comes to social media as well as answer some of these questions: what we are trying to find when we access social media: how is my life compared to everyone else’s? Where does that question come from? And can I get it answered?

About Jonathan:

Jonathan Smith is the Youth Ministry Director for Christ Church in Franklin, PA. His goal in youth ministry is to inspire students to find their identity in Jesus, and to make the rest of their lives a way to show it. When not doing youth ministry he spends his time with his best friend Sara, being a dad, running ultramarathon races, and coaching cross country.

Called to Serve Others

  • Darlene Thomas, Regional Director for the Northeast Mid Atlantic Jurisdiction of U.M. ARMY

This workshop will provide Biblical background on why God calls us into the mission field.  Through interactive discussion and activities, videos and a slide presentation, the group will explore the topic of mission work, both for themselves and their youth group.  This workshop will be conducted by a representative from United Methodist Action Reach-out Mission by Youth (U. M. ARMY), a national organization that has been organizing week long mission trips for youth for 40 years.

About Darlene:

Darlene Thomas is the Regional Director for Northeast Mid Atlantic jurisdiction of U.M. ARMY (United Methodist Action Reach-out Mission by Youth).  Darlene has been leading week long youth mission trips on the east coast for 12 years as a volunteer and was hired by U.M. ARMY into Regional Director role in January 2018.  Darlene retired as a Corporate Training Consultant with Highmark, Inc. in 2017, where she worked for 25 years in the training/consulting field.  Darlene is also a volunteer Director for the local mission ministry that emanates from her church called "Hands & Feet."  She has been leading this ministry since early 2017.  She is also the youth leader at her church in the Harrisburg, PA area.  She is a mother of 3 grown children and grandmother to 4 (with another on the way!).  She lives in Mechanicsburg, PA, with her husband of 38 years, Ted.


Leaders Only: Effective Youth Ministry Programming: Big Pictures and Blueprints 

  • Duffy Robbins, SPARK 2019 speaker

This seminar will offer a big picture vision of what it means to build disciples, and offer a practical framework for fleshing out this vision in the context of a youth ministry program. This breakout will only be offered at one session.

About Duffy Robbins:

Dr. Duffy Robbins is a thirty-five year veteran of youth ministry. Duffy speaks around the world to teenagers and people who care about teenagers. Duffy has his D.Min. in Youth and Family Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary, and is the author of numerous books including Ministry of Nurture, This Way to Youth Ministry: An Introduction to the AdventureSpeaking to Teenagers (which he co-wrote with Doug Fields), Youth Ministry Nuts and Bolts and Enjoy the Silence (which he co-wrote with a wonderful girl named Maggie Robbins that he married many years ago).

Leaders Only: Community Youth Groups

  • Heather Shoffstall, YMT adult advisor and youth leader at Somerset Grace UMC

What do you do when your church’s youth population is the size of a small group?  How do you run a quality program?  Join me as we look at Community youth groups.  We will explore the Pros and Cons of partnering with other United Methodist Churches in your area, or (gasp) other denominations. This breakout will only be offered at one session.

About Heather:

Heather serves as youth leader of Faith on Fire Youth Ministry in Somerset, PA.  (A community youth group comprised of 3 UMC in the Somerset area ) Heather joined Grace UMC in October 2005 and quickly felt the call to help with the youth program.  From starting out as a Sunday School teacher to the beginnings of the ministry in 2007, Heather continues to grow the ministry along with volunteering on a Conference and Jurisdictional Levels.  Heather has 2 kids - Grant in college and Kendra a Sophomore in High School and loves spending time with family and friends.  Heather truly believes the Lord has called us all to service, in some form or fashion and deeply appreciates this assignment that God has called her into.  


Discerning Call and Your Role in Ministry

  • Bishop Cynthia Moore- Koikoi, Resident Bishop

Bishop Moore-Koikoi will share her personal call story. She will also share what the Bible, church tradition, experience, and reason tell us about how to discern a call to ordained or lay ministry and what to expect once one says “yes” to the call.

About Bishop Moore-Koikoi:

Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi was elected as a bishop of The United Methodist Church by delegates to the 2016 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference. She began her assignment to lead United Methodists in Western Pennsylvania on September 1, 2016. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Loyola College in Maryland in 1988, and a Masters of Arts and advanced certification in school psychology from the University of Maryland in 1992. She worked as a school psychologist for Anne Arundel County Public Schools for 17 years, serving in leadership roles as a layperson before answering her call to the ordained ministry. Bishop Moore-Koikoi said she sees herself as a bridge-builder, clear and confident about what she believes, while respecting others who might not believe the same way. Her vision is of a diverse church that embraces justice and the life-saving love of Christ.


Fun Rooms (open in the evenings):

  • Dodgeball 
  • Nintendo Wii Room 
  • Gaga Ball and games
  • Jam Room (bring your guitar and jam out with others)

Special Rooms (open throughout the weekend):

  • Prayer Room
  • Youth Leader Lounge
  • Mission Room
  • Vendor Hall (new and expanded location this year!)