Board of Directors
Children's Spirituality Summit
The Children's Spirituality Summit (CSS) (formerly the Children’s Spirituality Conference: Christian Perspectives) is a Christ-centered and ecumenical organization of scholars and thoughtful practitioners dedicated to promoting informed practice regarding children's spirituality. We currently meet biennially and represent a broad range of Christian faith traditions.
Our key purpose is to create opportunities for dialogue and collaboration between researchers and practitioners through our gatherings and publications. We serve as a thought leader in the global discussion of children’s spirituality from a Christian perspective to influence practice in the varied contexts where children are spiritually formed.
Mimi Larson, PhD
Dr. Mimi Larson is the Executive Director for the Center for Faith and Children and an Assistant Professor of Educational Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Prior to joining the TEDS faculty, she served for over 25 years in practical church ministry and was Visiting Assistant Professor of Christian Formation & Ministry at Wheaton College. Her research is in the area of children’s faith formation with a particular interest in how faith is formed in early childhood. She serves on the board for the Society of Children’s Spirituality: Christian Perspectives and her latest book is Bridging Theory and Practice in Children’s Spirituality: New Directions for Education, Ministry and Discipleship (edited with Robert Keeley, Zondervan, 2020). Dr. Larson regularly consults with churches regarding their ministry with children and families and has developed curriculum for children’s ministry in the local church. As a recipient of Calvin’s Institute of Christian Worship’s teacher-scholar grant as well as a worshipping communities grant, her current research focus is how ministry leaders thoughtfully engage children in worship.
Robin Turner, DMin
Director of Family Ministries at All Saints Church, in Dallas, TX, Robin is enjoying the process of building a ministry that integrates children with the greater congregational community and utilizes formation-focused approaches for engaging children in worship and studying the Bible. She earned her Doctorate of Ministry in Leadership and Spiritual Formation at Portland Seminary. Her dissertation,"Children's Faith Formation as Mutually Transforming Opportunity: Leading Systemic Change," focuses on equipping pastoral and lay leaders to value and learn from the children in the context of the local church. Robin earned her BA and MA in Christian Formation & Ministry at Wheaton College (IL) and served congregations in Raleigh, NC and Sewickley, PA before settling in Dallas, TX with her husband, Sam, and sons, Davy and Jack.
Kirsten Hitchcock, MA
Kirsten Hitchcock is the Director of Digital Children’s Ministry Resources at David C Cook and is the Children's Pastor at The Practice Church. For over a decade, she has served in many capacities including curriculum and content development, divorce and grief care for kids, and ministry director. She is passionate about helping kids who are hurting and equipping leaders to walk alongside kids through the ups and the downs. She has an MA in Christian Formation and Ministry and focused her studies on the ontological root of divorce and the spirituality of children. She is a wife and a mom, is an extreme extrovert, and loves to meet people over a cup of coffee.
Wes Gallagher, DMin
Wes is an adjunct professor at Tennessee Tech University in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. Wes holds a Doctorate of Ministry in Leadership and Spiritual Formation from Portland Seminary. His doctoral project is designed to assist Christian parents with the inspiration, information, and practical suggestions they need to help them pass faith to their children. Wes has ministered in Churches of Christ in Middle Tennessee for two decades with most of that time devoted to child and family ministry.
He earned a BS in secondary education from Tennessee Tech University and an MDiv from Lipscomb University where he studied children's spirituality under Holly Allen. Wes lives in Cookeville, TN with his wife Stephanie and six children: Haylee, Cassie, Brayden, Bryson, Baron and Kerrigan.
Andrea Chavez-Kopp, MA, MBA
Andrea brings 20+ years of experience in Catholic education and ministry. She is a nationally recognized expert and thought leader in the field of Catholic education, particularly in the area of digital transformation. Andrea began her teaching career in 2000 as a high school social studies teacher at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, FL. Andrea also served as Confirmation Coordinator and High School Youth Minister for the St. Paul Catholic Community in Pensacola, FL and later as Middle School Lead Teacher, 6-8 STEM Co-Teacher, Faculty Technology Mentor, iPad Coordinator and G-Suite Administrator as well as Youth Minister for St. John the Evangelist School in Panama City, FL.
She served for 5 years with the National Catholic Educational Association in multiple roles including Director of Formation and Director of Business Development. Andrea gained national recognition as a leader, innovator, writer and speaker. She vastly improved and expanded professional development offerings available to NCEA members and led the charge in content creation and strategic partnerships.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Andrea served as Chief Learning Officer for The Procedo Project, to help schools shift to virtual instruction and support innovation through strategic planning. She now works as a Learning and Development consultant in the DC area. She holds a B.A. in Secondary Education and History, an M.Ed. in Instructional Leadership, and an MBA in Marketing. To learn more about Andrea visit andreakoppconsulting.com.
Dana Kennamer, PhD
Dana Kennamer, Ph.D. serves as the Associate Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Abilene Christian University where she teaches courses in early childhood education and children's ministry. Prior to entering higher education, Dana served as a classroom teacher in preschool and elementary grades in Miami, Houston, San Antonio and Abilene.
Dana earned a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin in Early Childhood Education in 2001. Her dissertation explored young children’s perceptions of God from a contextualist perspective. This research was later included in Children’s Spirituality: Christian Perspectives, Research and Applications under the title Six Children Seeking God. Dana’s other publications include Along the Way: Conversations about Children and Faith, I Will Change your Name:
Messages from the Father for a Heart Broken by Divorce, and Let All the Children Come to Me: A Practical Guide Including Children with Disabilities in Your Church's Ministry.
Despite Dana’s busy life as an administrator and academic, on Sunday mornings you can find her with her kindergarten and first grade friends at church. She has served in children’s ministry at her church in various capacities for almost forty years where multiple generations know her simply as "Teacher Dana."
Trevecca Okholm, MA
Trevecca Okholm has served the church as children and family pastor in the Presbyterian church (PCUSA) and the Anglican tradition (ACNA/C4SO) for over forty years. More recently, she spent nearly a decade teaching practical theology at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California. Trevecca’s passion for ministry and teaching has always focused on the role of parents – and more recently, grandparents – in the faith formation of children; as well as how the church might more effectively connect generations in living the faith together. Although retired from full time work in the church and the academy, Trevecca continues to serve the church as a family ministry coach and consultant, speaker for parent groups and retreats, and as a trainer/facilitator for Worship & Wonder models of faith formation.
Trevecca has authored Kingdom Family:Re-Envisioning God’s Plan for Marriage and Family (Cascade, 2012) and The Grandparenting Effect: Bridging Generations One Story at a Time (Cascade, 2020) and along with Robin Turner, has co-edited the newly released 2021 Children’s Spirituality Summit Book, Children’s Ministry and the Spiritual Child: Practical Formation-Focused Ministry (Abilene Christian University Press, 2023). Other publications include various articles and book chapters addressing ministry with children and families. Trevecca holds an MA in educational ministry from Wheaton Graduate School and is a Certified Christian Educator, PCUSA. She has been married to her partner in ministry, Dennis, for fifty years and counting. They have two children, one son-in-law, and three grandchildren.
Joseph Seo, PhD
Joseph Seo is a pastor in the Family and Children's Ministry. He has been serving a Korean American church in the Chicagoland area for the past 16 years. He received his B.A. in Linguistics (Turkish) from Osaka University of Foreign Studies, M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, a M.A. in Christian Formation and Ministry from Wheaton Graduate School, and a Ph.D. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. The field of his specialization is children's faith formation in immigrant families and the influence of the parents on their children.
Joseph was born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised as a missionary kid in Osaka, Japan. He is married to Joo, a wise God-fearing woman, and has a son, Hymn, who loves fishing and soccer.
Henry Zonio, PhD
Director of the Center for Academic Excellence at Asbury University in Wilmore, KY. Henry
Zonio earned his MA in Sociology at San Jose State University and Ph.D. in Sociology at the
University of Kentucky. Henry has taught at Asbury University, the University of Kentucky,
Transylvania University, and Eastern Kentucky University.
His research focuses on children,
families, social inequalities, and religion. Specifically, Henry researches how children and
adolescents learn about race and gender in the context of religious education programs at the
churches they attend. He is currently conducting a 2-year survey project investigating youth
attitudes on race and religion funded by a Louisville Institute Project Grant for Researchers.
Henry brings 25+ years of practical children’s ministry to his research. He also has written for
Children’s Ministry Magazine and has contributed book chapters to edited volumes on child research methodology and children’s spirituality.