Youth Becoming Leaders is run by Asbury University faculty and students from the Christian Studies and Philosophy department in partnership with Asbury Theological Seminary faculty, Youth for Christ staff, local ministry leaders, and a host of expert guests.
Evening Worship Speakers for June 2023 will be announced in Spring 2023. Below are the speakers from June 2022.
Rev. Aqueelah Ligonde is an enthusiastic speaker and leader with a passion for today’s generation of youth and women. Aqueelah holds a Master of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry and a Certificate in Black Church Studies from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. In 2011, she was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and became a member of the Presbytery of New York City. Aqueelah has worked with various organizations, institutions, and programs such as the Institute for Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary, Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, Fuller Youth Institute, Urban Youth Workers Institute, Youth Specialties, Holmes Presbyterian Camp, PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer Program, and GenOn/Logos Ministries, plus others. For over a decade, Aqueelah served as Associate Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, NY. Aqueelah is an International Coaching Federation (ICF)-trained coach through the Coach Approach Skills Training program. She is currently the Interim Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Far Rockaway, a Consultant with Ministry Architects, and the Vice President for Coaching and Training for Ministry Incubators, organizations that are designed to champion congregations and leaders to help them live into their full ministry potential.
Rev. Shawna Songer Gaines MDiv serves as the lead pastor of Trevecca Community Church in Nashville, Tennessee. She previously served as chaplain at Trevecca Nazarene University, as co-pastor of Bakersfield Church of the Nazarene in California, and as a youth pastor in Chicago. She is the author of the Breathe series and the co-author of two books, A Seat at the Table and Kings and Presidents, with her husband, Tim. Shawna speaks and preaches at events nationwide, and blogs at shawnasongergaines.com.
The 2023 Academic Speakers will be announced in Spring 2023. Below are the 2022 Academic Speakers.
Dr. Brian Shelton is a Professor of Theology at Asbury University. While he’s written books on theology and the journeys of the New Testament apostles, one of his favorite things is to engage high schoolers on theology, the Bible, and leadership. As someone who found identity and purpose in serving others from his own youth group, it is meaningful for him to participate in this great experience at YBL. Brian loves hiking and he is segmenting the Appalachian Trail, on track to finish if he lives to be 110. He regularly teaches in Rome, Italy, where he enjoys leading college students to the most important sites of church history. With his wife Sally, he has three daughters, which helps him appreciate the value of quality youth ministry programs even more.
Dr. Jim Wilson has taught as an Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury since 2019. He teaches and researches some in the New Testament, but his primary focus is the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible. He is primarily interested in reading the Bible in the various contexts that it was originally written and understood, whether they be social, political, economic, anthropological, or otherwise. He earned his Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2018, his Masters in Biblical Studies from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2014, and his Bachelors of Biblical Studies (with a triple major in Biblical Studies, Theological Studies, and Classical Studies) from the University of Evansville in 2007. In his early career, he spent several years in youth ministry, culminating in 4 years as Youth Director of St. Luke’s UMC in Kokomo, IN. He enjoys various hobbies including role-playing games, metalwork and building, electronic gaming, and basically any new challenge that he can research and gain proficiency in.
Dr. Joy Vaughan’s passion for lifelong learning and teaching led her to pursue a role in higher education. She holds a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies with an emphasis in New Testament from Asbury Theological Seminary. Joy’s area of expertise is in Lukan scholarship and her dissertation focused on the possession and exorcism stories of Luke-Acts. Joy is happily married to Tim Vaughan, who is a ’97 graduate of Asbury University, and together they have a daughter. Joy is currently working on a monograph that expands her dissertation research. Her focus is on a multicultural reading of the spirit possession and exorcism accounts in the Synoptics and Acts.
Dr. Jay Moon served 13 years as a missionary with SIM, largely in Ghana, West Africa among the Builsa people, focusing on church planting and water development, along with his wife and four children. He is presently a Professor of Evangelism & Church Planting and Director of the Office of Faith, Work, and Economics at Asbury Theological Seminary. He authored four books and also edited four books, including Intercultural Discipleship: Learning From Global Approaches to Spiritual Formation. In addition to his role as a teaching pastor in a local church plant, Jay holds a Professional Civil Engineer’s license and his MBA focused on social entrepreneurship. His hobbies include ax throwing, small business incubation, and tree houses.
Brian Hull is the Director of the Youth Becoming Leaders High School Christian Leadership Institute, Gardner Scholar and Professor of Pastoral and Christian Ministries at Asbury University, and President of the Association of Youth Ministry Educators. He has his Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies from Asbury Theological Seminary. Serving in church ministry for more than 25 years, including work at the local church and denominational levels, Brian continues to present and write about the church, culture, youth ministry, Christian leadership, and the Christian Endeavor Society. Brian and his wife Carol, have 4 children.
James K. Hampton is the program coordinator for YBL. In his spare time, he serves as a professor of youth ministry at Asbury Theological Seminary. A veteran youth worker, author, and speaker, Jim has spent his entire 35 years of ministry focused on adolescents and the church. He is married to Carolyn and they have two adult children.
Kevin Becht is the Southern Indiana Area Director for Youth for Christ/USA. He is a graduate of Asbury University (B.A. Christian Ministries/Intercultural Studies Concentration). He served as a contributing editor of The YFC Three Story Bible and The Life Bible-zine with Tyndale Publishers, as well as a member of the Leadership Development team as a facilitator of One Heart Retreats (the initial training experience for YFC missionaries serving around the world). He and his wife Kristi have been married for twenty-five years. They have three children. Joshua (Asbury Class of 2018), Hannah (Asbury Class of 2021), and Caleb (who plans to attend Asbury).
Jenna Brock is the Assistant Director for YBL. She graduated from Asbury Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree and has worked with youth, youth pastors, and churches for 16 years. Jenna is an active member of the community serving in her church and on the board of Leadership Jessamine. Jenna and her husband Roger have two boys. They all love to be outside as much as possible.