Children’s Ministry LEAD Retreat 2025 Conference

March 18-20, 2025

With an option to attend the Power UP Pre-Conference, beginning March 17.

Leading, Equipping, and Discipling in Children’s Ministry at the Ridge Haven Conference Center

The Children’s Ministry Leaders at your church (pastors, children’s ministry staff, volunteers in leadership roles, nursery coordinators) are invited to CDM’s annual Children’s Ministry Leadership Retreat at the Ridge Haven Retreat Center at Brevard in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Come join a community of leaders who are passionate about reaching the next generation for Christ!

Meet CDM’s Children’s Ministry Team. With decades of experience in churches of all sizes, the team can relate to the specific struggles in your church—and help develop practical strategies to enhance your ministry to children.

Conference Details

Cost: $400/person (includes registration, lodging in a shared room, and 6 meals).

Pre-Conference Cost: $125 (includes registration, lodging for additional night and 3 meals)

Registration deadline: February 18, 2025 (unless we run out of space prior to that date)

If you need a private room, the additional cost is $150; there are a limited number so register early! Read a testimony of how God has blessed roommates!

Things to know when registering:

  • Priority rooming assignments (types of rooms) will be based on the order that you register. For example, those who register first will get first priority on rooming choices. There are rooms with 2 double beds, and rooms with bunk beds. Register early!
  • If you have a roommate preference, please be sure to indicate that when registering. Your roommate choice MUST register within the week you register and include your name in order to be assigned to the same room.
  • If you would prefer a private room, there is an additional cost. (There are limited single rooms available.)
  • If your church is not listed on the drop-down menu, please choose the “Null” option at the beginning of the “N’s”. Email me to let me know your church name so I can add it manually.
  • You will receive an email 3 weeks prior to the conference with the list of other retreat attendees in order to share rides from the airport, as well as information for those attending the Pre-Conference.
  • You will have an opportunity to indicate if you have medically necessary dietary restrictions.

If you have registration questions, please contact Kathy at or 678-825-1132.

Power Up! Pre-Conference

The Power-Up! Pre-Conference is a valuable addition to our annual LEAD Retreat. This extra day of training is designed to bring together children’s ministry leaders, both paid and volunteers, to enrich their understanding of involving children in corporate worship and prayer. The specialized training is aimed at equipping and inspiring leaders to return to their local churches and facilitate the integration of children into the intergenerational corporate worship service. The pre-conference starts with a Monday night dinner and an after-dinner session and includes rooming on Monday evening, breakfast and lunch on Tuesday, and a session on Tuesday morning. Please note there will be an additional fee of $125 to cover the room and 3 meals.

Keynote Speakers:

Dr. Tom Gibbs is the President of Covenant Theological Seminary.

He became the sixth President in July 2021 after serving as a pastor for 24 years. Previously, Dr. Gibbs served as the Senior Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas, the church he planted and pastored for 19 years. Before planting Redeemer, he also planted a Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) campus ministry at Baylor University and had served as a youth director in Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr. Gibbs brings a commitment to organizational leadership and church planting to his experience in ministry. In addition to planting Redeemer Presbyterian Church and Baylor RUF, he oversaw numerous church plants through his role as the chairman of the Southwest Church Planting Network, a network encompassing more than 60 churches across four states. He also served as a church planting assessment director for Mission to North America, the Presbyterian Church in America’s church-planting agency, and founded and led Reach South Texas, an organization focused on strategic church planting in South Texas.

He has degrees from Auburn University (BChE) and Covenant Seminary (MDiv, DMin). He and his wife Tara have four children: Anna Catherine, Thomas, Lucy and Caroline.

Tara Gibbs is a wife, mother, and writer. She spent 19 years in San Antonio, Texas ministering alongside her husband Tom to the city of San Antonio at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Tara has authored Bible studies and taught internationally on women’s ministry.  Tara and Tom recently moved to St. Louis, Missouri to serve Covenant Theological Seminary where Tom currently serves as president. Tara has parented four children, led Bible studies, practiced hospitality, worked with the San Antonio area public schools, worked in water conservation, and served as Director of Redeemer’s women’s ministry. Tara loves running, reading, everything outdoors, Tex-Mex food, and fall in St. Louis.

Workshop Speakers: (Additional speaker info coming in December)

Bethany Belue is on staff with CDM serving in various roles within Children’s Ministry. Before coming on staff at CDM, she served as the Children’s Director at Redeemer PCA in New York City and Oak Mountain PCA in Birmingham, AL. She currently lives in Mobile, AL with her husband, Dustin, who is the assistant pastor at Grace Community Church PCA. Bethany and Dustin love investing in the next generation from small children to young adults. Life is full with their 2 young children, Patterson and Neely.

Jimmy Brock has been involved in children’s ministry since he was a child himself, serving churches in Virginia, California, Missouri, and Georgia as a Sunday school teacher, camp counselor, camp director, nursery coordinator, and most recently Pastor of Family Ministry. He is now the Church Planting Pastor for Resurrection Community Church in Virginia Beach, VA.

Stephen Estock is Coordinator for the PCA Committee on Discipleship Ministries (CDM). A former USAF officer, he has been in pastoral ministry for almost 30 years, serving churches in Montgomery, AL and St. Louis, MO. Stephen has also been an adjunct professor at several seminaries, including Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis and Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta. His Ph.D. is in education, with an emphasis on competency-based learning and leadership training. He and his wife, Susan, have three children and live in Atlanta, GA.

Katie Flores is the Children’s Ministry Coordinator for the PCA’s Committee on Discipleship Ministries. She lives with her husband and children in Birmingham, AL where her favorite volunteer role at Covenant Presbyterian Church is teaching 4k Sunday School. Katie oversees the effort of CDM to connect and equip those who serve in discipleship ministry to children. These efforts include leading conferences, developing resources, and equipping through certification.

Justin Huensch is serving as the Pastor of Next Generation Ministries at Chesterfield Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, MO. He is passionate about reaching the next generations with the amazing grace of God, the relational connection of the body of Christ, and the purposeful calling of the gospel in their lives. Justin and his wife Emily have three wonderful children.

Sherry Kendrick serves as the Family Ministry Director of Covenant Church of Naples in Naples, FL where she has been for 15 years. She has a degree in elementary education from East Tennessee State University and over 40 years of experience in children’s ministry as well as homeschool, private school and public-school education. She loves children’s curriculums and tends to collect them. Sherry was married to her pastor husband, Mike, for 36 years serving in both small and large churches. As a widow, she continues to serve the church and has three grown children and three grandchildren.

Dr. John C. Kwasny is the Director of Discipleship Ministries at Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Ridgeland, Mississippi. He is a Biblical counselor, an adjunct professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, and Director of One Story Ministries—authoring a complete discipleship curriculum for the church, home, and school (children and youth). John has written several books, including Children’s Ministry 101, Established in the Faith, and Learn it, Love it, Live it, Teach it.. (a 365-day children’s devotional).  He also does a weekly podcast called Biblical Counseling Today, dealing with individual, marriage, and parenting problems. John and his wife, Martie, have eight children, four sons-in-law, and four grandchildren.

Joe Parker is the Family Pastor at Atlanta Westside Presbyterian Church. For the past 30 years he has served in church plants to large size churches, from inner city to suburban settings. He has a passion for relationally engaging both our covenant as well as our community families with the gospel, equipping adults to disciple our next generation in such a way they grow to become Christ-changed, hope-filled, productive adults. Joe is head over heels in love with his wife Kelly for over 20 years, and are parents of their adopted boys Jacob and Makiah.

Dana Russell has been a member of Christ the King Church in Cambridge, MA for 25 years and has volunteered in the children’s ministry since its beginnings when the first children were born into the congregation. Her early years of service were spent on the nursery committee and teaching Sunday School at multiple grade levels. Dana has served as the Children’s Ministry Director since 2013 and is passionate about equipping teachers and parents in guiding and growing children in faith. She and her husband, Greg, an elder at CTK, are currently navigating raising three teenaged girls.

B.A. Snider has more than 20 years’ experience as a children’s director in churches ranging in size from 200 to 4,000 but finds her passion is the same no matter how many children she’s serving. Show the children Jesus. Teach the kids all of the Bible so they see that the stories from the Old Testament point to Jesus and that the New Testament shows how Jesus fulfilled God’s promises—yesterday, today, and forever. B.A. began her formal ministry as a children’s director and consultant in 1993, but she has taught and led music for children since she was in junior high school. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee and taught college until the Lord called her to seminary and full-time ministry. She graduated with a master’s degree in Christian Education from Columbia International University. Speaking at conferences, consulting with leadership, and training teachers brought her to Great Commission Publications ( in 2014 as the Children’s Ministry Consultant and Marketing Director.

Laney Stayton – In one way or another, children’s ministry has always been a part of Laney’s life–starting as the child of a pastor and missionary, then through volunteering at her local church as a young adult, and now as a mom of three. After taking a quick detour as a certified shorthand reporter in Texas, the Lord called her to serve as the children’s ministry director of her church in Chattanooga, TN. After serving her church for almost 8 years, the Lord provided an opportunity for her to serve the PCA by becoming the program director for a new grant-funded program, Teach Us To Worship. She is excited about the opportunities her new role gives her to support churches and help them consider the Biblical call to worship as a covenant family!

Laura Tucker is the Children’s Ministry Director at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, AL. Laura grew up in the church and spent many summers there and at camp preparing her for a children’s ministry full of fun activities and time in God’s Word. Laura served as the nursery director before her role over preschool and elementary students. She is married and has three children who keep her involved in volunteer ministry to the youth as well. She enjoys time at the lake, playing tennis and cheering on the Dawgs.

Lisa Updike is the Director of Children’s Ministries at Covenant in Harrisonburg, VA and doesn’t remember a day when she didn’t love Jesus. Her ministry experience includes teaching, special education, leading children’s choirs, and writing. Several of her books and curriculum are available through the PCA bookstore. She and her husband, Kevin, have been married since 1989 and are blessed with 4 adult children, 3 of whom joined their family through adoption. Lisa and Kevin stay busy with church activities, creating art,  and best of all, doting on their two grandsons.


WORKSHOPS (Coming Soon)


Ridge Haven Conference & Retreat Center

215 Ridge Haven Road
Brevard, NC 28712


Conference Schedule and Meal Times:

Monday, March 17, 2025

6:00 pm: Dinner for Pre-Conference Attendees

Tuesday, March 18, 2025

9:00 am: Pre-Conference (must pre-register)

12:00 pm: Lunch for Pre-Conference Attendees

2:00 pm: Check–In for Conference Attendees

3:00 pm: Opening Sessions

6:00 pm: Dinner

7:00 pm: Plenary Session 1

8:30 pm: Dessert Social

Wednesday, March 19, 2025

8:00 am: Breakfast and program

12:30 pm: Lunch

6:00 pm: Dinner

7:00 pm: Worship Service

9:00 pm: Dessert

Thursday, March 10, 2025

8:00 am: Breakfast and program


It’s a curvy and mountainous ride to Ridge Haven, but once you’re there it’s beautiful!

Here are some things to note about transportation:

  • Best airports:
    • Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP) – About 1-1/2 hours from Ridge Haven
    • Asheville (AVL) – About 1 hour from Ridge Haven
    • Charlotte (CLT) – About 2-1/2 hours from Ridge Haven
    • Atlanta (ATL) – About 4 hours from Ridge Haven
  • There are no hotel shuttles and no Uber from airports to Ridge Haven.
  • Even though it may say 25 miles, it will take you a lot longer than you think because of the mountain roads.

Directions to Ridge Haven: Click on this link and print out directions ahead of time…you will want to have a hard copy of them in case you lose cell service in the mountains.