Ivy is Faith Formation Team Leader for the United Church of Christ. She is a speaker, consultant, and author of Children’s Ministry in the Way of Jesus (with David Csinos), Postmodern Children’s Ministry, The Ultimate Survival Guide for Children’s Ministry Workers, and Formational Children’s Ministry. Ivy grew up in Guilford, Connecticut, about 90 miles outside of Manhattan. She holds a BA in English, a Masters of Religious Education, and a PhD in Religious Education and has held educational positions in churches in both the Midwest and on the East Coast.



Melvin Bray ( is an Emmy® award-winning storyteller, author, and social entrepreneur who lives with his wife, three kids and two dogs in southwest Atlanta, GA. He actively participates in vanguard networks seeking more beautiful, more just, more virtue-filled ways of showing up in the world. He is author of the soon to be bestselling BETTER: Waking Up to Who We Could Be (Chalice Press, 2017), which proposes telling better faith stories as a way of creating a better world, co-editor of Faith Forward, Vol 1 and Vol 2 (Copper House, 2013, 2015), which explore ways children’s and youth ministry can make the dream of beloved community possible, and he is coordinating author of The Stories in which We Find Ourselves, online reimaginings of the biblical narrative that make faith something children and youth have reason to care about. As a social entrepreneur, Melvin helps communities of goodwill find better stories and scripts–better ways of thinking and doing–that move them toward equity, diversity and inclusion (



Amy is senior minister at The Riverside Church in Manhattan. Prior to serving at this church, she was senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, DC, since 2003. Amy holds degrees from Baylor University, The International Baptist Theological Seminary, and Wesley Theological Seminary. Before coming to Calvary Amy worked with the homeless community in New Orleans, and served as Associate Pastor at St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans. In her free time she loves to travel, read, garden, and write.  She often comments on faith and life in general on her blog, Talk With the Preacher.  You can also read her columns every two weeks on the Associated Baptist Press.



Dave is founder and president of Faith Forward and author of Children’s Ministry in the Way of Jesus (with Ivy Beckwith), Children’s Ministry that Fits, and editor of Faith Forward and Faith Forward, Volume 2 (both with Melvin Bray). He is currently completing a PhD in practical theology at Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto, where his research focuses on children, theology, and intercultural contexts. Dave has served in ministry with youth and children for most of his life, from volunteering at the local parish he grew up in to serving as a children’s pastor in southwestern Ontario. He frequently speaks throughout North America and beyond, helping leaders to re-imagine spiritual formation, children, youth, culture, and faith. He blogs at Check out Dave's resource page HERE.



Melanie serves as Director of Ministry with Children at Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church. She is responsible to The United Methodist Church for providing nationwide training and resourcing, while providing research and networking opportunities for leaders and teachers engaged in ministry with children. She wrote What Every Child Should Experience: A Guide for Teachers and Leaders in United Methodist Congregations, and blogs regularly at on issues that impact how children  grow in faith. Melanie loves that her ministry allows her to connect congregations and conferences with the resources that will support them as they share with children our Christian faith through developmentally-appropriate and enriching experiences!


Daniel White Hodge PhD, has over 20 years of youth work under his belt. He has worked for and with organizations such as Young Life and World Vision and has done work with undocumented youth in Los Angeles. He was a youth pastor for many years and continues to advocate for urban youth justice concerns.

Dr. Hodge has taught at Cal State University Northridge's religious studies department as well as Fuller Theological Seminary's school of intercultural studies. As a speaker, writer, and activist he has spoken on many college campuses including Stanford University, UCLA, USC, and Union Theological Seminary. Dan teaches classes around the world on subjects such as Black popular culture, personality and the self, Hip Hop discourse, and race/ethnicity within religion.

Dan's research and community engagement explore the intersections of faith, critical race theory, justice, Hip Hop culture, and emerging multi-ethnic millennial culture. Dan and his wife, Emily, are most proud of their dancing daughter Mahalia Joy. Learn more about Dr. White Hodge at




For more than two decades Michael’s passion has been to explore the intersection of spiritual formation and experiential learning. This drive continues to fuel his work as a content designer, youth leader, and community advocate. Michael has a M.Ed. in Integrated Learning from Endicott College, and is an adjunct instructor at North Park University. He creates learner-centered resources and experiences for youth, children and adults. Michael, his wife Michele, and children, Angelo and Abrielle, live in Elgin, Illinois.



Danielle Shroyer is an author, speaker, pastor, and founding member of the emerging church movement. She is the author of Original Blessing: Putting Sin in Its Rightful Place (Fortress Press, November 2016), Where Jesus Prayed: Illuminations on the Lord's Prayer in the Holy Land (Paraclete, 2015), and The Boundary-Breaking God: An Unfolding Story of Hope and Promise" (Jossey-Bass, 2009). She holds a BA from Baylor University and an M.Div from Princeton Theological Seminary. Danielle lives with her husband and two children in Dallas, Texas. You can find her at