Where: St. Thomas’ Church, Whitemarsh
7020 Camp Hill Road
Fort Washington, PA 19034
Travel Information Here
When: 2 p.m. on Monday, October 16 through
Noon on Wednesday, October 18
Who: Lay, Clergy, Diocesan staff

This conference will offer keynote presentations, workshops, and networking time, and will be undergirded with Eucharist and the Daily Office. The conference will include findings from RenewalWorks, a research-based Forward Movement initiative that has identified key catalysts for spiritual vitality in congregations and for individuals. A focus on discipleship is one of those primary catalysts, based on research from nearly half a million participants across the country.

“In our work with RenewalWorks, we have learned a great deal about how to encourage spiritual growth and deeper practices in congregations,” said the Rev. Jay Sidebotham, director of RenewalWorks. “This conference gives us a wonderful way to share practices that work.”

The people of St. Thomas’ Church look forward to hosting Discipleship Matters, said the Rev. Marek Zabriskie, the church’s rector. “We have been transformed by scripture engagement in our church, including of course, the Bible Challenge. We are excited to share what we have learned and to offer hospitality to conference attendees.”


Register Online Now

Bringing a group? Small groups attending from the same parish get one free registration, with four paid attendees. Email Jason Merritt, at for details, and to arrange your free registration.


Plenary and Worship

Plenary sessions will be live streamed online (workshops will not). Watch here

Monday afternoon, opening panel discussion:

“What is Discipleship?”
Moderated by The Rev. Canon Scott Gunn
Panel members: TBD

The conference kicks off with a lively panel to discuss, “What is discipleship?” Panelists will explore what it means to be a follower of Jesus, and there will be plenty of time for audience engagement.

The Rev. Canon Scott Gunn
is executive director of Forward Movement, a ministry of the Episcopal Church that inspires disciples and empowers evangelists. He has been a parish priest, and prior to ordination, he worked in information technology. He lives in Cincinnati but travels widely as a preacher, speaker, and teacher. You can read his blog at or follow him on Twitter @scottagunn.


Holy Eucharist:

The Rt. Rev. Bishop Gutierrez, celebrant and preacher

The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez was consecrated on July 16, 2016 to serve as the 16th Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Before his calling as Bishop, he served as Canon to the Ordinary, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief of Staff in the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande. He also had an extensive career in public service and as president of a strategy and media firm. The mystery of the Eucharist, monasticism, and a relationship with Jesus Christ are spiritual foundations for Bishop Gutiérrez. Throughout his life, he has enjoyed the wondrous experience of “chasing Jesus.” He considers himself a (budding and sometimes clumsy but always eager) apprentice of Jesus, most influenced by His words to Peter: “Feed my sheep.”

Tuesday plenary sessions:

“Spiritual Vitality in the Episcopal Church: What We’re Learning”
presented by The Rev. Jay Sidebotham

After four years of work with congregations through the ministry of RenewalWorks, we are gaining insights in

to the current state of the Episcopal Church. Close to 200 Episcopal congregations and about 12,000 Episcopalians have worked with our inventory, providing a snapshot of a distinct Episcopal culture. It’s a challenging picture, as our denomination contends with complacency, restlessness, and a need for deeper grounding in spiritual practices, especially prayer and scripture. At the same time, there is hope as we are discovering spiritual pathways forward, identifiable catalysts for spiritual growth. The Rev. Jay Sidebotham, Director of RenewalWorks, joined by others, will share insights into where we are and where we may, by God’s grace, be headed.

The Rev. Jay Sidebotham
is Director of RenewalWorks and Associate Rector at St. James’ Parish, Wilmington, NC. He has been ordained since 1990, and has served in parishes in NY, DC, Chicago, NC and RI. He likes to draw cartoons. The church provides lots of material.

“Engagement with scripture”
presented by The Rev. Marek Zabriskie

Studies reveal that Episcopalians are the best-educated yet nearly the most biblically-illiterate Christians in our country, attending church once a month on average and retaining 5% of what they hear after 72 hours. Is there a better way to form disciples using Scripture? We will examine h

ow to help our members develop a life-long daily discipline of Bible reading to transform the rest of their lives and become more articulate, compassionate, contagious and generous disciples.

The Rev. Marek Zabriskie has served as rector of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church for 22years,increasing the number of ministries from 25 to over 65 and significantly increasing membership and giving. In 2011, he founded The Bible Challenge and the Center for Biblical Studies to promote it globally. Nearly one million people have participated in The Bible Challenge. He is the author and editor of eight books.


Wednesday morning, panel discussion:

“Creating a Culture of Discipleship”
Moderated by The Rev. Brenda Husson
Panel members: TBD

Reflecting on their own experience, the panel will discuss the importance of engaging all of the parish’s leadership in the work of forming disciples, and tools that have helped support that engagement, both theologically and practically. They will also discuss ways to welcome and integrate newcomers so that discipleship becomes the hallmark of church membership.  

The Rev. Brenda Husson is a 1983 graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City who has been in parish ministry for 32 years and at St. James’ Church in Manhattan as Rector since All Saints Day 1996. She has had the same vision for the church since she began her ministry, that the church be and become the church—a community of disciples of Jesus Christ that seeks to live out that discipleship for the sake of the world. About 5 years ago she and her parish embarked on a focused reimagining of their life as a parish to make that intention explicit in all of St. James’ ministries. They also became part of the first cohort of churches in the Diocese of New York to join with RenewalWorks, a decision that has helped provide added encouragement and resources as the parish lives into their mission.

Workshops  & Presenters

Downloadable list with complete descriptions and presenter bios

Evangelism by listening
Presenter: the Rev. Jarrett Kerbel, Rector, St. Martin’s, Philadelphia

Joy in confession
Presenter: the Rev. Dr. Hillary Raining, Rector, St. Christopher’s, Gladwyne, PA

Discipleship matters: For youth and young adults
Presenters: Ms. Kate Riley, Youth Missioner, Diocese of Maryland, and Ms. Samantha Haycock, Chaplain, University of Arkansas

Baptism Matters: Discipleship in daily life
Presenters: Dr. Lisa Kimball, Assoc. Dean of Lifelong Learning, Professor of Christian Formation & Congregational Leadership at Virginia Theological Seminary, and the Rev. Dr. Patricia Lyons, Missioner for Evangelism and Community Engagement, Diocese of Washington

Leveraging your parish music program for discipleship
Presenter: Mr. Michael Smith, Choirmaster, St. Thomas’ Church, Whitemarsh

Empowering spiritual lay leadership in the parish
Presenter: Canon Dawn Davis, Trinity Church, Aurora, Ontario

Fresh from the field, Church planting in a new way
Presenter: The Rev. Gray Lesesne, Vicar, Good Samaritan Church, Brownsburg, Indiana

Dioceses shaping disciples
Presenters: The Rev. Canon Betsy Ivey, Diocese of PA, The Rev. Canon Rob Droste, Diocese of NJ, The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, Diocese of GA

Discipleship as the Foundation for Evangelism
Presenter: Canon Shawn Wamsley, Canon to the Ordinary, Diocese of Pennsylvania

Sacred place shapes disciples
Presenters: Mr. Joshua Castaño, Sr. Program Manager, Partners for Sacred Spaces

Kiddos See, Kiddos Do: Mentoring Dusty Disciples
Presenters: Dr. Vicki Garvey and The Rev. Shawn Schreiner

Preparing for Sacraments and Rites of Passage in Latino/Hispanic Contexts
Presenter: Mr. Hugo Olaiz, Asst. Editor, Latino/Hispanic Ministries, Forward Movement

Discipleship and building issues: How St. Thomas’ campus helps shape disciples/what gets in the way
Presenters: The Rev. Liz Costello, Associate Rector and Mr. Donald E. Beistline, Parish Administrator at St. Thomas’ Church – Whitemarsh

Digital Storytelling: Using Social Media to Connect Followers to Faith
Presenter: Mr. Jeremy Tackett, Episcopal Church Digital Evangelist, Episcopal Church Center

Discipleship and Justice: Building Community from Within
Presenter: Mr. Chad Brinkman, Program Officer, Episcopal Relief & Development

New relationships in Christ: Discipleship in challenging times
Presenter: The Rev. Yejide Peters, Rector, All Saints, Briarcliff Manor, NY

Christian Witness and Policy
Presenter: Mr. Alan Yarborough, Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations

Keeping a Focus on Discipleship as a Leader
Presenter: The Rev. Brenda Husson, Rector, St. James’ Church, NY, NY

More Details

Click here for more details including hotel, transportation and more

Click here for a draft schedule

Bringing a group? Small groups attending from the same parish get one free registration, with four paid attendees. Email Jason Merritt, at for details, and to arrange your free registration.

Register Online Now

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