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Youth Leader Summit

February 20-22, 2023

“The Youth Leader Summit is the perfect moment of rest, connection, and renewal I needed after the holidays. It was great to kick off the year with colleagues explaining how to think and love deeply in youth ministry.”

-John Leedy

A weekend retreat where you can come together to worship and learn leadership skills while doing fun recreational activities!

The Youth Leader Summit seeks to be a supportive and informative gathering for all who work with young people in the church—youth directors, parents, pastors, educators and/or advisors are all welcome! Together, we will spend three days and two nights digging into some of the current issues facing youth ministry while also sharing joys, concerns and best practices. There will also be time for individual and group worship, play, rest and relaxation!

Working with and serving students in middle and high school, plus their parents, in our communities of faith requires no small amount of creativity, vision, persistence and joyful patience. In fact, youth ministry demands all the energy, intelligence, imagination and love that we can muster.

We want to honor our partnership in ministry with you by offering this annual event. Mo-Ranch wants to pour some love and strength back into you! We believe you need and deserve some dedicated time away with your colleagues to recharge and regroup.

Andrew Zirschky

Andrew is a Research Professor in Youth Ministry at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the Director of the Master of Arts in Youth Ministry (Nashville Extension). In addition to his work as a professor and director, Andrew is also the chief strategist of the Lilly-funded Innovation Lab at the Center for Youth Ministry Training (CYMT), which is dedicated to helping congregations and community-based ministries develop new ways of meaningfully engaging young people, as well as the cofounder and former director of CYMT’s Theology Together Project. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary and spent more than 20 years as an ordained youth and young adult minister in congregations around the country.

Passionate about bridging the disconnect between young people’s religious faith and everyday life, Andrew says he is “committed to discovering how I can support faith formation that attends to both strong identity and self-esteem, while also being equally committed to self-giving love and justice for others and creation.”

Andrew is an avid traveler, having visited nearly 30 countries across five continents. Father of two teenagers, Andrew is also an advanced certified scuba diver, a dabbling woodworker, and he keeps a marine reef aquarium with a variety of fish and corals.


Mak Knowlden

Mak has served as the Director of Youth Ministries at Florence First United Methodist Church since 2019. Though she was born and raised in Upstate New York, she has also lived in Florida and Alabama. She holds a degree in Hospitality and Tourism from Flagler College, as well as a Master’s in Youth Ministry from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Mak is passionate about creating inclusive spaces where teenagers can show up as their whole and authentic selves. She enjoys helping students discover more about their purpose, the world around them, and what it looks like to follow Christ. In addition to her love for youth ministry, Mak’s favorite things include corn dogs, traveling, and cheering for the Ottawa Senators.


Sam Belcher

Sam Belcher is from Nashville, Tennessee and has known since he was a student himself that he wanted to do youth ministry. He got his undergraduate degree in Theology and Ministry from Lipscomb University in Nashville and then continued on to get his Masters of Arts in Youth Ministry from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary through the Center for Youth Ministry Training program. Sam grew up in the Church of Christ, worked in a Methodist Church in Memphis for his CYMT placement, and now serves as the Director of Youth Ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Franklin, TN, so he likes to affectionately refer to himself as “denominationally fluid”.

He enjoys the outdoors and will spend warm weather seasons hiking, kayaking, or playing tennis with his friends. As you’ll hear during the conference, he also enjoys many activities in nerd-dom, such as videogames, creative writing, and running a now 2.5 yearlong D&D campaign with some of the buddies he met while in youth group himself!


Cost and Housing

Attendees will be housed in Guest Lodge.

This conference is free. Meals included, starting with dinner Monday until breakfast Wednesday.

Questions? We’re happy to help! Contact us at 1.800.460.4401 ext. 246 or

Packing Suggestions

  • Comfortable/casual clothes
  • Comfortable walking shoes (close-toed shoes recommended)
  • Flashlight (it is very dark here at night)
  • Bible
  • Journal
  • Toiletries
  • Sunblock, sunshades and hats
  • Rain jacket
  • Water bottle
  • A clean face mask for each day, and or full face shield.
  • Beds are ready upon arrive; hotel rooms do not have mini-fridges, microwaves, TVs or hair dryers, so please plan accordingly.
  • Towel are in rooms, and river towels are at the river and pool.


Mo-Ranch is 90 miles one-way, or a 2-hour drive from the nearest airport (SAT), allow 3 hours travel/check-in time for departures. We recommend generally scheduling arriving flights before 3 p.m. and departing flights after 3 p.m. to be sure you do not miss any of your event. If you are in need of shuttle service to Mo-Ranch, call Kars for Hire in Kerrville at (830) 890-8200 at least 15 days in advance to arrange transportation from San Antonio International Airport.

Directions to Mo.


Make sure to stop by the Presbyterian Mo-Ranch Assembly bookstore during your conference to pick out a souvenir!


We’re happy to help! Contact us at 1.800.460.4401 ext. 246 or




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