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Extravaganza 2023 Learning Tracks

These learning tracks will shape our learning around specialized topics, each of which are led by an expert in that area of ministry. All learning tracks will include workshop topics that supplement the track. Check back for more information about track leaders. 

There is no need to indicate your track prior to the event, participants will select their desired learning track during the event.

How to Build a New Kind of Church Without Getting Fired

Pandemic life has made ministry hard for over two years, and most of us have had enough. Our people want us to return to normal, but what is “normal”?! How do we encourage change in our ministries, looking forward and not getting stuck reminiscing over “what was” - even if that was only three years ago, not 30 years ago? This track includes envisioning new ways of doing ministry, while also finding the courage and partnerships, alongside the skills and energy to pursue doing ministry in a new way…without getting fired for thinking and dreaming outside of the box. If you are looking to stretch your ministry muscles in new ways, and to collaborate using fresh ideas while keeping the gospel central in all we do, this track is for you!
Track Leaders

Peggy Hahn serves as the Executive Director for LEAD, aligning passionate leaders, resources, and practices to grow Christian leaders who grow faith communities in our world. Peggy is a frequent speaker and author who is never without a pile of books to read and seeks coaches and mentors for herself in an ongoing quest to learn and grow. Peggy is committed to listening to pastors and leaders of all ages for insight into the ways they are growing in their own faith and what LEAD can do to support them in their development as leaders.

Jessica Noonan serves as the Associate Director for LEAD and has served in professional congregational, synodical, and churchwide ministry for more than 20 years with focus on children, youth, and family ministries. She is passionate about creating spaces and opportunities in faith communities and homes that grow healthy disciples of Jesus Christ. 

Making Your Church a Safe Place for Children and Youth

The statistics can seem overwhelming when we talk about how young people are treated within society, from bullying to abuse to isolation; both from their peers and from adults. So how do we as ministry leaders build and provide a safe place for our children and youth? We’ve had enough of the inequity, racism, and fear in the world - but does it have to be the same in the church? No! This track is designed to provide resources to ministry leaders who desire the skills to understand issues of diversity, identity, purpose, and belonging, and to put that understanding into practice, as a grace-filled leader. If you are feeling overwhelmed, lack resources, and are tired of feeling inadequate in your training to speak and lead in these areas, this track is for you!
Track Leader

Dr. Kelly Sherman-Conroy is a Native American Theologian who walks with people of all cultures. Kelly is a proud member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and dedicates time to exploring with people around the world with the intersections of identity, personal narratives, faith, and healing through an Indigenous lens. Kelly recently completed her PhD from Luther Seminary and serves at the Minister of Social Justice & Advocacy for Children, Youth and Family in NE Minneapolis, and she also serves on the Executive Committee of the American Indian/Alaska Native Lutheran Assoc. Inc, and the ELCA Committee for Authentic Diversity. She is the proud mother of a 8-year-old son.

Your Story Is Enough: You Can't Fill From an Empty Cup

Everyone has a story to share, yet too often we don’t feel like it’s important enough to tell our own stories. And more often we aren’t available to hear others tell theirs. As we live out our calls to work and journey with young people, might learning to effectively share our stories and invite youth to tell theirs, transform both their journeys and the church? This track will help ministry leaders claim their stories of triumph and tragedy, learn how to invite others to do the same, and provide resources for self-care and building your ministry. We are not on this journey alone, and we sometimes need to learn how to hold space for hearing another’s story, and also telling our own, so that the body of Christ can more fully journey alongside each other together.

Track Leader

Vance Blackfox, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, serves the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) as the Director of Indigenous Ministries and Tribal Relations. An alumnus of Texas Lutheran University (TLU) and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), Vance has previously served the ELCA in multiple capacities, from being elected and serving as National President of the Lutheran Youth Organization during his TLU days, to later working as a diversity and cultural education professional for the Women of the ELCA, Augsburg Fortress Publishers, California Lutheran University, ELCA Youth Gathering, and LSTC’s Youth in Mission. In addition to serving numerous ELCA and ecumenical teams and committees throughout the years, he is at present the Indigenous Theologian and Coordinating Team Member for the ELCA’s Theological Round Table, as well as creator and producer of the Vine Deloria Jr. Theological Symposium hosted at LSTC.

Vance is also the founder and director of Other+Wise, a multi-site cultural education and cultural immersion program for youth and student groups from across the country, and also previously served as the Director of Communications at the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, as the Director of Communications for Native Americans in Philanthropy, and has held executive director positions at the Haskell Foundation, which supports Haskell Indian Nations University, and the Oaks Indian Mission. Vance teaches about many things Indigenous as founder and primary of Blackfox Institute (, he has served as the Guest Curator of the Indian Museum at the University of Texas at San Antonio Institute of Texan Cultures, and presently serves as the Indigenous Theologian for the Faith-Based Initiative for the City of San Antonio, where he currently resides.

Reclaiming the "E" Word: A New Form of Outreach

Too often we cringe at the word “evangelical” with its deep ties to colonization, conversion, and condescension. How do we reconcile those connotations with our identity as Evangelical Lutherans and our call to go and make disciples, spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth? How do we teach our children and youth to share their joy and faith in Jesus if they see our fear of how we might be received? This track shares refreshing ways of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who have been hurt by the church or who just haven’t seen us live out the gospel in ways that remind us that the Word is enough, and that rooted in the Word, they are already enough, and we are ENOUGH! Evangelism isn’t about butts in the pews but building genuine relationships filled with the love of Christ. For ministry leaders who are “on fire'' and want to share, but are afraid and/or don’t know how to, this track will give direction and examples of how to evangelize in an approachable, relational and practical way with grace enough for all.

Track Leader

Bishop Leila Ortiz Torres is a pastor and theologian and serves as the Bishop of the Metropolitan Washington D.C. Synod. She is La_Luthercostal; an inspired preacher, teacher, and speaker who was raised in the Pentecostal Church and addressed by the Gospel anew in the Lutheran Church. Given her spiritual formation and theological liberation,  dares to work with the Spirit as She restores a fractured church and heals wounded souls. Leila has a heart for serving God’s people in practical and pastoral ways. She is called to preach and teach in communities that wrestle with their complicity in the unjust systems present in the church and in society.
She is especially interested in co-creating sacred space with people who:

  • believe the church is flawed, but know that God isn’t
  • have been hurt by toxic theologies
  • are enduring spiritual trauma
  • may feel spiritually homeless
  • are fierce followers of Jesus and are intimately familiar with the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Simply put, Rev. Ortiz is committed to threading the messy, muddy waters of hard truths for the sake of theological and soul liberation for all.

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