All times are CDT.
Thursday October 10th
8:00am - 9:00am
9:30am - 12:30pm
Pre-conference options (part 1) (See below)
12:30pm - 2:00pm
Complimentary boxed lunch
2:00pm - 5:00pm
Pre-conference options (part 2) (See Below)
5:00pm - 6:30pm
Early conference registration
5:00pm - 6:30pm
CCEF booth, ministry expo & bookstore open
Friday October 11th
7:30am - 9:00am
8:00am - 9:30pm
CCEF booth, ministry expo & bookstore open
8:00am - 9:00am
9:00am - 10:45am
We Are Anxious People (Alasdair Groves)
11:15am - 12:30pm
God Comes Close to Anxious People (Ed Welch)
12:30pm - 2:30pm
2:30pm - 3:30pm
Breakout Session 1 Options (see below)
3:30pm - 4:00pm
4:00pm - 5:00pm
Breakout Session 2 Options (see below)
5:00pm - 7:15pm
7:15pm - 8:30pm
Daily Bread: Today’s Strength – for Anxious People (Ed Welch)
Saturday October 12th
8:00am - 9:30pm
CCEF booth, ministry expo & bookstore open
8:00am - 9:00am
9:00am - 10:15am
When Bad Things Happen: Confronting Our Fears for the Future (Julie Lowe)
10:15am - 10:45am
10:45am - 11:45am
Breakout Session 3 Options (see below)
11:45am - 1:45pm
1:45pm - 2:45pm
Breakout Session 4 Options (see below)
2:45pm - 3:15pm
3:15pm - 4:30pm
Anxiety and the Body (Mike Emlet)
4:30pm - 7:00pm
7:00pm - 8:30pm
Special Worship Evening with Sandra McCracken & Brook Hills Band
8:30pm - 10:00pm
Sunday October 13th
8:00am - 12:30pm
CCEF booth, ministry expo & bookstore open
8:00am - 9:00am
9:00am - 9:45am
Walking with Anxious People (Julie Lowe & Alasdair Groves)
9:45am - 10:15am
10:15am - 11:30am
Jacob: God’s Unexpected Way with Our Anxieties (Andrew Nicholls)
Introduction to Biblical Counseling (Alasdair Groves)
Marriage Counseling with Only One Person (Aaron Sironi and Lauren Whitman)
Therefore I Have Hope: Truth and Comfort in Suffering and Tragedy (Cameron Cole)
Trauma: Entering In (Darby Strickland)
*Pre-Conference is a separate ticketed event on Thursday, October 10. Pre-Conference registration is now open. Register here.
General Session 1: We Are Anxious People (Alasdair Groves)
You are anxious. We all are. But maybe we are too quick to pass this off as a problem of weak faith or a weak body. Scripture actually understands that our anxieties are not only feelings, but also a reaction to a world that truly is dangerous and broken. Based in Psalm 27, this talk will set up a framework for thinking biblically about what anxiety is, how it reveals our hearts, and how it points us to our need for a Savior who redeems not just our emotions, but our fragile, finite lives as well.
General Session 2: God Comes Close to Anxious People (Ed Welch)
There is nothing more important than this: Christ is with us in the uncertainties and troubles of everyday life. His presence is the response to our anxieties. But, when fears and anxieties are full on, it is not natural for us to run to Jesus and rest in him. Perhaps, if we can grow up to become little children, this can change.
General Session 3: Daily Bread: Today's Strength for Anxious People (Ed Welch)
When life feels frantic, someone close to you might say, “Look at me.” When your thoughts are off somewhere in a future catastrophe, this is a way of inviting you to come back to the present. Most modern therapies for anxiety do the same thing. Scripture actually piloted this focus on today, and what God offers is so much better. You can live out of God’s grace now because he will worry about the future.
General Session 4: When Bad Things Happen: Confronting Our Fears for the Future (Julie Lowe)
Do you ever find yourself fretting over the potential of tragedy for the future? Do you feel like you are waiting for the other shoe to drop? There is a range of anxieties over the future that threatens to hold us hostage. When this occurs, we are quick to forget the goodness and character of our Creator. We get caught up in anxious thoughts. We lose sight of God’s benefits. This is a call to remember the God who goes before us—a God who is good, present, sovereign, and faithful.
General Session 5: Anxiety and the Body (Mike Emlet)
Sweaty palms. Nausea. Difficulty concentrating. Rapid heart rate. Hyperventilation. We're often very aware of our bodies when we are anxious. That makes sense because God has created us not only as spiritual beings, but also as bodily creatures. So how should we understand the experience of anxiety with respect to our bodies? Are there times when the body plays a more central role in the development of anxiety? This plenary will explore somatic aspects of anxiety and suggest implications for the ways we can battle anxiety—body and soul.
General Session 6: Walking with Anxious People (Julie Lowe & Alasdair Groves)
We can know a lot about anxiety and even make progress as individuals in dealing with our anxiety without becoming a church community that truly welcomes and helps those who are anxious. Led by two of our faculty, this session will focus on practical concerns and practical solutions for our churches as we seek to become both places of refuge and places of faith-building for all of us, especially our most anxious brothers and sisters.
General Session 7: Jacob: God's Unexpected Way with Our Anxieties (Andrew Nicholls)
In Genesis 32, Jacob obeys God's command to leave Laban and return home. But his spies report terrible news. Esau—his bested rival since before birth—is coming out to meet him with 400 men! "In great fear and distress," Jacob tries to maximize his chances of survival, and he prays in a glorious God-centred, humble, needy way. In this, Jacob, the aging usurper, demonstrates great growth! In this talk we will see how God answers his prayer through one of the strangest and most frightening nights of the whole Bible narrative, and we'll see that God's understanding of being saved is not always the same as ours.
Breakout Session 1 Options
Scrupulosity: When Doubts Devour (Mike Emlet)
Many Christians are paralyzed by obsessive doubts and worries about their spiritual lives, which rob them of peace, purpose, and joy. This workshop will provide hope-filled biblical perspective for this struggle, known historically by the name "scrupulosity," or more recently as "religious obsessive compulsive disorder."
Practical Ways to Work with Anxious Children (Julie Lowe)
Anxiety pervades the lives of children and teens alike. It is our job to help children regain their sense of peace and safety in a world that feels precarious. This workshop will help adults forego quick fixes that contribute to dependencies and consider how we can lead children to find hope and security in Christ, the One who is always accessible and present in the midst of their fears. We will talk about how to assess children’s anxiety and provide practical ways to approach and alleviate their struggle.
Fear of Death: Learning from a Young Father Frightened by His Mortality (Andrew Nicholls)
Death is the great enemy we all face. Many people put off thinking about it until its unavoidable and are then caught unprepared. But for others it casts a shadow over all of life that can sour and discolor every hope and relationship. In this seminar we will consider a life example of a man who was sensitized to death as a child and is now learning how the gospel helps him face death, for himself and his family, as a truly defeated enemy. Being mindful of mortality and weakness, instead of being crippling, can open up new possibilities for our relationship with God and our ministry to others.
Social Anxiety: Offering Help and Hope to the Fainthearted (Eamon Wilson)
What do we fear most? Judgement or rejection of others is near the top of the list for many of us. God created us to be social and interdependent, so we are naturally attuned to how others view us. However, this ability can run amok. While we all know what it’s like to be self-conscious around someone we admire or respect, for others this fear is crippling. From the outside looking in, the answer is simple: stop caring so much what others think and start caring more about what God thinks. However, when someone faces severe social anxiety, these words don’t penetrate the panic or even reflect an understanding of the experience. The person you were trying to help might even feel judged by you, too. So how can we offer help that is neither condemning or dismissive? What words reflect deep compassion and patience? This breakout will outline the multifaceted manifestations of social anxiety disorder as well as faithful biblical formulations for practical help.
Facing Anxiety and Fears Over a Loved-One's Struggle with Sexuality (Ellen Dykas)
A secret sexual addiction is exposed. A loved one comes comes out as gay, transgender or___ in the ever-evolving list of identity labels. Even as the voice of our sexualized culture can be noisy and disturbing, the impact is more profound when these issues enter our close relationships. This workshop will help you honestly face your circumstances by looking at them as Scripture does: a form of suffering through which God wants you to draw near to him. Christ has comfort, wisdom, and practical steps of love in response to the anxiety and fear that comes when a loved one's sexual struggles come to the light.
Breakout Session 2 Options
Panic, Breathing Well, and Engaging with God (Todd Stryd)
The experience of a panic attack is a frightening one. It’s lurking presence, threatening to pounce on us at any moment, can slowly unravel our world. How are we supposed to think biblically about this affliction and how do we sift through all the suggested ways to help? Todd Stryd will consider the experience of panic attacks and offer principles that shape how we engage God, and how we can use tools like breathing exercises in the care of those we counsel.
The Littlest Victims (Darby Strickland)
Children who live in homes where domestic violence is present suffer intense stress. They live in fear and with anxiety. The effects are often long lasting. We will focus on Christian families plagued by domestic violence and the damage done to a child’s spiritual and relational formation. We will discuss the short and long terms effects of exposure. You will gain practical tools for how to help children at different developmental stages, as well as adult survivors.
Still Nervous about Judgment Day? (Steve Estes)
Grace permeates every Christian book you read—but still you can't shake what Scripture says about Judgment Day. You know you stand justified, the cross is your very life, but before celestial gates open there looms God's final public evaluation of your life. Perhaps Luke 12:2 haunts your nights: "There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed." Or 2 Corinthians 5:9 unsettles your stomach: "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done in the body, whether good or bad." How are you not supposed to be anxious?! This seminar is for Christians feeling the weight of that day.
Preparing for the Worst: Helping First Responders and Military Personnel Develop Spiritual Resiliency (Curtis Solomon)
In this fallen world, everyone will experience some level of suffering and trauma. However, first-responders and military personnel face a higher risk of repeated exposure to extreme suffering and trauma. For those who have chosen to serve in these heroic professions, is there a way to guard against the damaging effects of this level of exposure? This workshop will demonstrate how engaging with God’s Word can inoculate our hearts against some of the most severe responses to trauma like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The New Anxiety: Fear of Missing Out (F.O.M.O) (Robyn Huck)
Have you noticed the symptoms? A couple on a date, eyes focused on their phones rather than each other. People who keep notifications on all night, forgoing sleep in order to stay connected. An important conversation interrupted with, “Sorry, I should take this call.” And yet another accident caused by texting while driving. These are just a few of the symptoms of F.O.M.O., the fear of missing out. We are all vulnerable to it, and young people are being shaped by it. Social media and 24/7 connectivity tempt us to comparison and discontent along with the highs and lows of deriving our sense of value from what others say. In this workshop, we’ll identify these tendencies that often result in lack of productivity, anxiety, and depression, and we'll move toward a deeper understanding of God as the Good Shepherd, the one in whom we find the richness of life.
Breakout Session 3 Options
Trusting after Trauma (Darby Strickland)
Complex relational trauma creates many wounds. One wound might be the sufferer’s inability to get help and build community. A life story that has been shaped by repetitive and deep betrayal often results in anxiety in forming relationships—especially helping relationships. This workshop will provide concrete ways that we can embody Jesus for those who experience anxiety as we move toward sufferers to help.
Dread: Anxiety's First Cousin (Jayne Clark)
Some of us experience dread more than outright anxiety. We feel more of a sense of foreboding rather than nervousness. We are reluctant more than paralyzed. This workshop will dig into the experience of dread, how we react to it, how the Bible speaks to it, and how the Lord moves toward us in the midst of it.
Finding Rest in Grace for Anxious Suburban Teenagers (Cameron Cole)
Studies indicate that American suburban teenagers experience higher anxiety levels than their peers who live in areas with high-crime and homicide rates. Due largely to the college admissions race and the over-scheduled lives of these kids, anxiety has become an epidemic. This breakout will look at three things: the anxiety epidemic among suburban teens; the dynamics of shame culture that contribute to it; and how the gospel offers rest and relief to them.
Decision Anxiety and the Will of God (Michael Gembola)
Having the freedom to make big and small choices can be both a blessing and a curse. This session will validate the experience of decision anxiety in the context of modern life pressures, and address problematic assurance-seeking behaviors. We will see trust, risk, faithfulness, and humility as virtues to cultivate to counteract fearful indecision, and engage several key tensions with Christian wisdom: action and rest, safety and risk, planning and flexibility, consultation and independence. We'll seek to cultivate a heart more at rest in the goodness of God and inspired by the opportunity to make decisions in loving relationship with God and others.
Anxiety and Relationships: Counseling People Who Struggle with Insecurity and Codependency (Ellen Dykas)
Since Genesis 3, struggles and messiness in our relationships is the normal human experience. Insecurity and codependency are cousins in the family of broken relationship patterns. We crave and demand that people make us feel okay, valued and satisfied. Anxiety easily hijacks our hearts when people don't come through and our desires and demands aren't met. This workshop will locate patterns of insecurity and codependency in Scripture and how Christ, our true refuge, enables us to love people more than we need or fear them.
Breakout Session 4 Options
Engaging Anxiety in Song (Sandra McCracken)
One of God's gifts to help carry us through the troubles of life is music. The Psalms, the songbook of Scripture, have been called "'An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul," for it is here where Scripture paints our every emotion in vivid color. But how can we access the music of the Psalms when all we feel is anxiety and distress? How can we sing by faith, even with a trembling heart? This session will consider and practice how to pray the psalms and sing a new song even in times of fear and uncertainty.
PTSD: Mending Body and Soul after Trauma (Eamon Wilson)
Trauma is a destructive force that rends body and soul. While approaches to trauma have become more sophisticated, Christians are often left with resources that address fragments of the person rather than the whole. A more holistic understanding of trauma must include a robust biblical anthropology and Christian worldview, as well as capture the experience of the individual impacted by trauma. This breakout will address how to understand trauma from a biblical worldview that is theologically rich and cognizant of the clinical literature.
A Practical Picture of Counseling an Anxious Person (Todd Stryd)
Do you know where you want to take someone with anxiety? Do you have a vision for how you will help and what your help will look like? This presentation will provide an overarching framework for how you can think about and practically counsel anxious people. We will supplement this framework through role-play examples (assisted by Laura Andrews).
Speaking Directly from Scripture to an Anxious Person (Robyn Huck, Steve Estes & Andrew Nicholls)
An anxious person is standing in front of you. They desire encouragement amidst their anxious thoughts. They want to hear the words of life. Where will you take them? What passages address their very real struggles? In this breakout, Andrew Nicholls, Steve Estes and Robyn Huck will each present one meaningful passage about anxiety as if they are talking directly to an anxious person. We hope to increase familiarity and access passages about anxiety and actually hear how someone would speak those passages to another person. Q&A to follow.
Loving a Prodigal and the Attrition of Anxiety (Dave Harvey)
This session explores the nature of waywardness and why it sparks anxiety in the hearts of those who love someone who has gone astray. In this session we will discuss the experience of shame of those who suffer the indignity of loving someone more than they are loved by that person. We will discover together that the gospel speaks in comprehensive and refreshing ways that can reduce the worry, fretting, and shame that accompanies this form of suffering.
Edward T. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D. is a counselor and faculty member at CCEF. He earned a Ph.D. in counseling (neuropsychology) from the University of Utah and has a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. Ed has been counseling for over thirty years and has written many books and articles on biblical counseling, including When People Are Big and God Is Small; Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave; Blame It on the Brain?; Depression; Running Scared; Shame Interrupted; Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love; and A Small Book about a Big Problem: Meditations on Anger, Patience, and Peace. He and his wife, Sheri, have two married daughters and eight grandchildren. In his spare time, Ed enjoys spending time with his wife and extended family and playing his guitar.
Alasdair Groves directs CCEF New England and is a faculty member at CCEF, where he currently serves as the Director of the School of Biblical Counseling. He received his Master of Divinity in counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary. Alasdair has served on the staff of several churches and has a background in campus ministry. He writes for the Journal of Biblical Counseling, and regularly teaches a variety of seminars around the New England region. Alasdair and his wife, Lauren, have three children. Alasdair is a fiction enthusiast, plays ultimate frisbee, and loves to produce and enjoy both good food and good music.
Julie Lowe is a faculty member at CCEF. She holds an MA in counseling from Biblical Theological Seminary. She is a licensed professional counselor with over fifteen years of counseling experience. She has extensive experience with women’s issues, sexual abuse, body image issues, parenting, and child maltreatment issues, and regularly speaks at events on these topics. Julie is also a registered play therapist and has developed a play therapy office at CCEF to better serve families, teens and children. She is a trained facilitator for Stewards of Children, a non-profit organization that provides training on child sexual abuse. Julie has trained a therapy dog that she works with both professionally and on a volunteer basis. Julie and her husband, Greg, have six children and serve as foster and adoptive parents.
Mike Emlet is a faculty member at CCEF. He holds an MD from the University of Pennsylvania and an MDiv degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. He worked as a family physician for over ten years before joining CCEF. Mike has counseled for many years and is the author of CrossTalk: Where Life and Scripture Meet, which explores the use of Scripture in counseling, as well as Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications. Mike is married to Jody, and they have two children. He is active in his urban church and enjoys gardening, camping, and creating wheel-thrown pottery.
Todd Stryd is a faculty member at CCEF and the counseling coordinator. He holds a PsyD from Immaculata University and an MDiv from Westminster Theological Seminary. His dissertation work explored the relationship between a reformed Christian narrative and the experience of schizophrenia. He has experience as a hospital chaplain, crisis worker, and university counselor. Todd is married with three children. He considers himself a coffee connoisseur and fills his off days with reading Winnie the Pooh and making Lego creations.
Darby has a Master of Divinity degree in Counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bio-psychology from the University of Chicago. She has been doing formal counseling for over a decade. In addition to serving as a missionary to Northern Ireland for two years, she has also supported the ministry of the church as a speaker at women's retreats, bible study teacher, and support group leader. While focused on marriage and family counseling, Darby has a special interest in working with abused and developmentally delayed children. She and her husband, John, have three young children. Her hobbies include photography, swimming, reading, and word games.
Cameron Cole is the Director of Children, Youth, and Families at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, where he has served since 2005. He is the founding chairman of Rooted Ministry, an organization that promotes gospel-centered youth ministry. He is the co-editor of “Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry: A Practice Guide” (Crossway, 2016). Cameron is the author of Therefore, I Have Hope: 12 Truths that Comfort, Sustain, and Redeem in Tragedy (Crossway, 2018), which won World Magazine’s 2018 Book of the Year (Accessible Theology) and was runner up for The Gospel Coalition's Book of the Year (First-Time Author). Cameron has a B.A. in Latin and English and an M.A. in Education, all from Wake Forest; he is currently pursuing a Masters in Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Lauren, live in Birmingham, AL and are the parents of four children.
From a Christian home and converted at university, Andrew qualified as a doctor from the University of Cambridge in 1992, and almost immediately began exploring a change of job. Ten years later he was a pastor in south-west London, married to Hilary, with very little idea how the gospel really connected with the problems faced by the congregation. After five years, he started studying online with SBC at CCEF, and the lights came on! Since summer 2018 he has been Director of Pastoral Care at Oak Hill College, London, where he is valuing a very precious opportunity to help the pastors of tomorrow make a better start than he did.
Andrew is founding trustee of a crisis pregnancy centre, he serves on the Executive Committee for Biblical Counselling UK, which aims to help churches be places of Christ-centred change, and with Helen Thorne produced Real Change, edited by David Powlison (2018: New Growth Press), to make David's Three Trees diagram as accessible as possible to people in church. He and Hilary have two teenage sons and Kip, a lively cocker spaniel.
Sandra McCracken’s prolific contributions as a songwriter, modern-day hymn writer, and record producer has brought grace and clarity to her soulful, folk-gospel sound. Whether in a theater or in a chapel, she is a dynamic performer who blurs the lines of what church music sounds like, captivating and inviting audiences to sing along. While many of her songs like “We Will Feast In The House Of Zion” and “Thy Mercy My God” have settled into regular rotation in Christian worship services internationally, she has also had songs recorded by All Sons And Daughters, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Audrey Assad, A Rocha Compilation, Bifrost Arts, Caedmon’s Call and others. She is further a founding member of Indelible Grace Music and Rain For Roots (children’s music) and has been a guest writer for Art House America, She Reads Truth, The Gospel Coalition, Christianity Today, RELEVANT Magazine and more.
Jayne V. Clark, MAR, is the Acting Executive Director at CCEF. She is also a counselor with over eighteen years of experience, a frequent retreat and conference speaker, and the author of the minibook Single and Lonely: Finding the Intimacy You Desire, Healing Broken Relationships: What to Do When You've Been Hurt and many counseling articles.
Curtis serves as Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. He received a B.A. in Biblical Studies from The Master’s University and an M.Div. in Christian Ministries from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Biblical Counseling. As an Air Force veteran Curtis is passionate about his dissertation topic which applies the truth of God’s Word to help those struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress. He is a certified member of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Curtis' other ministry experience includes; serving as a missionary in the Arizona state legislature, Associate Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church, Instructor at Cornerstone Biblical Counseling Training Center, Visiting Professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte and Adjunct Professor at Boyce College. He and his wife, Jenny, were married in 2003 and have two delightful sons.
Ellen Mary Dykas joined the staff of Harvest USA in 2007 as Women’s Ministry Coordinator. Before that, she served as a missionary and member of the missions’ staff at her church in St. Louis. She grew up in the Midwest and still enjoys visits to the heartland!
Ellen received her MA in Biblical and Theological studies at Covenant Theological Seminary, Creve Coeur, MO. She also received a Graduate Certificate in Biblical Counseling from the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF), Glenside, PA. She delights to teach God’s word and come alongside women in their spiritual journey..
Dave Harvey is a teaching pastor at Summit Church in Fort Myers/Naples, Florida, and founder of AmICalled.com. Dave has served on the board of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation since 2006. He has also authored numerous books, including When Sinners Say I Do: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage (Shepherd’s Press, 2007), Letting Go: Rugged Love for Wayward Souls (Zondervan, 2016) with Paul Gilbert, and his upcoming release I Still DO! (Baker, 2020).
Michael Gembola (MAR, MAC) is Executive Director of Blue Ridge Christian Counseling, Inc. in Roanoke, VA. Previously he served as the director of congregational care at his church and as a licensed professional counselor at CCEF. Michael teaches at the Blue Ridge Institute for Theological Education (BRITE) and online at Westminster Seminary, where he graduated with Masters degrees in Counseling and Biblical Studies. He is the author of After an Affair: Pursuing Restoration and several articles. He and his wife Kelly live in Roanoke, VA with their two sons.
Dr. Eamon Wilson is a licensed clinical psychologist in Ontario, Canada. He holds an M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a Psy.D. (clinical psychology) from Widener University. After counseling at CCEF for 6 years, Eamon now works in several rural communities in Northern Ontario where he both counsels and evaluates children and adolescents for learning disabilities and developmental delays. Other contexts he has counseled include a psychiatric hospital, university campus counseling center, and assessment of diaconal candidates. Eamon has taught biblical counseling courses at Heritage Seminary in Ontario, and Fondation due Counseling Biblique in Quebec. Eamon is married with three children.
Robyn Huck is a counselor, speaker, and writer at CCEF New England. Robyn enjoys leading Bible studies and has spoken at many conferences and retreats. She has a passion for connecting biblical truths and comforts to the challenges of life. Robyn and her husband Karl are parents to three grown children and have two daughters-in-law and four grandchildren! They enjoy big band music, fox trot and swing dancing, tandem bicycling, building crazy things (like tree houses), and playing with kids.