An Interview with Katie Howe

An Interview with Katie Howe

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Emily McKenna, Program Support Associate, interviews Katie Howe. Katie is a Masters of Divinity student at Chicago Theological Seminary, a Woodridge Congregational Church member, and is currently serving on the Board of the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ. Hear her thoughts about what churches should be asking parents and what faith formation leaders should be reading!

Emily:
Hi Katie! You came up in conversation as our team was talking about our newsletter for this month. We’re interested to know about the class you're taking, what your thoughts are on some of the books you’ve read through it, and what you've been learning. If you could share with us a little bit, that would be awesome.

Katie:
Yes. Actually, the course has finished, it finished about mid May. There were about five books that we read for the course. One was called Generation Z Unfiltered, and that one specifically talked a lot about generation Z and what that means. It’s not a religious based book, it really talks about some of the nuances of generation Z and how generation Z interacts with the world.

Another book we read was called Almost Christian, but a lot of it was more focused on what I would call Millennials versus Gen Z. Some of the overarching concepts still apply to Gen Z, but it talked more about faith formation and how the new generation interacts with faith formation. So one of these books was more specific to generation Z, but not specific to church, and then the other was more specific to church and less specific to generations.

Emily:
Out of all the books that the class went over, which one do you think that you'd pick up again first, that would enhance your personal ministry?

Katie:
So I think that the one that I would go back to, if you’re starting to create an environment where generation Z plays into the church, I would recommend the Almost Christian book. As part of my final project for this course, we had to talk about what we wanted to get out of youth and young adult ministry. I created a musical where I intentionally strung together clips in a very meaningful way to talk about youth and young adult ministries and what it means to do that work and how that's related to some of the books and concepts that we learned in the course.

Emily:
That’s awesome. I would love to listen to that.

Katie:
Yeah, I can share it. It's a musical background and then I pieced it all together.

Emily:
Thank you! I believe that you are going to be on the Board of Directors for the Southern New England Conference soon. Is that right?

Katie:
Yeah. So I'm currently on the board of the Rhode Island Executive Committee. This is now my second year, but yeah, I just started my term on the board of Southern New England Conference.

Emily:
That's really exciting.

Katie:
Yeah. I think that it'll be good to have more of a youth or young adult voice in Southern New England Conference.

Emily:
I agree. Thank you for doing that! And for being passionate about youth ministry on the board, I think we need a lot more of that. I'm excited for you to be in that role.

Katie:
I think that we've always been under the assumption of ‘if we build it, they will come’ and we've built it and no one's come. So what do we do? We're kind of at this tipping point right now so I feel like we're trying to all figure how to move forward.

Emily:
And in the summertime too, a lot of youth leaders are taking a break and they're not actively with their kids right now. What do you think people can do to prepare for the relaunch that's to come in the fall?

Katie:
I think it's important to really understand what the needs are of those who may not be engaging. Talk to some of the key families that maybe used to be involved and see at what point they felt most inspired. Ask them, what are you hoping to get out of church? What is the thing that is currently missing in your life or your kids' lives that you think church could provide? It should be about mutual learning and to have a shared vision of what we want accomplished.

Emily:
I really appreciate that perspective.

Katie:
I think we've all seen that there have been families in our churches who have children who have come to church and then for one reason or another they've stopped coming to church. Right? I'm sure this is consistent among a lot of our churches. What is it that they were getting or that they hoped to get out of church, the reason they started coming in the first place. I think there's a lot of other things that church can provide outside of scriptures and Bible stories and sermons. How do we start to change that narrative? I think that church used to be more about relationship building, building a relationship with God and building a relationship with each other rather than ‘we are here to do this craft and do this thing’. It needs to be more covenantal and more real, more about the relationship than about the activities.

Watch Katie's final project musical here
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Author

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Emily McKenna

Emily is the Program Support Associate for the Discipleship and Justice & Witness Teams of the Southern New England Conference.   Emily grew up in the Naugatuck Congregational Church UCC and at Silver Lake Conference Center, where she has served as ...

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