For our symposium in December, 2015, our writers read “How (Not) to be Secular” by James K.A. Smith to inform their writing as they worked on a submission based on science and youth ministry. “How (Not) to be Secular” represents Smith’s reading of Charles Taylor’s “A Secular Age,” a masterpiece exploring the plausibility of transcendence and, in many ways, represents the lifeblood of this grant. Our contributors for this symposium are listed here and, as their papers publish, links to them will appear below their bios.







Abigail is the director of the Institute for Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and has over 10 years of experience working with youth and young adults. She is passionate about fostering community and resource development for those working in the field of youth and young adult ministry. Abigail is blessed to have two daughters, and a husband who loves to cook.

Andrew-Root-squareANDREW ROOT

Andrew Root (Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary) is the Olson Baalson associate professor of youth and family ministry at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. A former Young Life staff worker, he has served in churches and social service agencies as a youth outreach associate and a gang prevention counselor.

Andrew’s article, Adolescence and the Creation of the Secular Age of Unbelief, was published in Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought.



Jon Wasson PhotoJON WASSON

Jon Wasson is ordained in the PC(USA) and serves as the Associate Pastor for Discipleship at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Austin, TX. He earned his M.Div. and M.A. from Princeton Theological Seminary and is primarily interested in Christian ethics and formation. He also cheers regularly for Arsenal. You can follow him on Twitter @jonwasson.


Jon’s article is called Imitation and Innovation in the Secular Age and appeared on Princeton Theological Seminary’s Institute for Youth Ministry blog.



Kevin Alton is a youth ministry veteran and a writer, author, and speaker on all things spiritual and age-level Christian ministry. He’s the co-creator of the Wesleyan lectionary curriculum website Youthworker Circuit and serves as content curator for the Science for Youth Ministry grant. Kevin lives with his wife and two boys in the Georgia woods just outside of Chattanooga, TN. You can connect with him on most social media as @thekevinalton.

Kevin’s article is called Because Science: Taking the Fear out of Faith for Youth Ministry and appeared on the Youthworker Movement website. Kevin also wrote a practical, “so what?” extension of Andrew Root’s article, published under the title Adolescence and the Creation of the Secular Age of Unbelief (So What?) by Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought.




Laura Addis has been involved in youth ministry since 2000 in both staff and volunteer roles. She currently works as the Operations Director at Life in the Trinity Ministry and as a staff consultant for Ministry Architects. Laura lives in Asheville, NC with her favorite husband, Tate, and is most spiritually disciplined in the fall when she is busy praying and fasting for her beloved LSU Tigers.

Laura’s article is called Sacred or Secular? and was posted by Youth Work Resource in the UK.



Wes Ellis is the Associate Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Toms River in New Jersey. He has an M.A. in Christian Education and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary and he is pursuing a Ph.D. in practical theology from the University of Aberdeen. Wes lives in New Jersey with his wife, Amanda, and their son, Henry.


Wes’ article ultimately posted as three; Winning?, The Real Argument, and The Real Win: Friendship are all hosted on Princeton Theological Seminary’s Institute for Youth Ministry blog.