Two new members of Next Generation Ministries are helping Greater New Jersey to invest in new disciples and train youth and college students to be leaders in their churches and communities. Kerwin Webb and Davidson Sutherland joined the Next Gen team as Youth Program Coordinator, and as Youth and Campus Program Coordinator respectively.
Davidson Sutherland will focus on campus and young adult ministries and will support and resource GNJ’s multiple college programs and students as well as Mosaic Ministries.
Sutherland is from Arlington, Texas. “I found the church when I was 16, a football buddy invited me to a Sunday night youth event,” Sutherland recounted, “when I walked into the youth building, I was met with genuine excitement… they loved me in a way I had only experienced from my family.”
Working at the Institute for Youth Ministry (IYM) at Princeton, he “saw hospitality used as a way to show people that they were loved.” The Forum, an annual event put on by the IYM, gathers hundred of youth pastors to learn about, and reaffirm their faith in youth ministry and recommit to doing the work with excellence. “The average youth pastor career is three years,” Sutherland reports, “and the Forum is a place of rest for youth pastors.”
Eric Drew, Executive Director of Next Generation Ministry is excited about Sutherland’s gifts and experiences. “Davidson is enriching Next Generation by fulfilling our mission to engage young adults, youth pastors and students at college.”
Kerwin Webb hails from Birmingham, Alabama and has been involved in ministry throughout New Jersey since working with Habitat for Humanity in Sandy relief starting in 2013. He signed up for storm relief and recovery work through Americorps, “I knew God was calling me to service, to a new challenge, even if I didn’t know what it looked like.”
After arriving in NJ, Webb began volunteering with Little League and in the youth ministry at Second Baptist Church in Asbury Park, where he now serves as an associate pastor. He also founded the youth development non-profit Renew My World, which provides cultural event opportunities like theater and aquarium visits for kids who would normally not be able to experience them.
“The most rewarding thing in working with youth is when you can get past trust issues, let them know you care about them and their success, and see them do things their fears would have stopped them from doing,” Webb offered.
He pointed out that the main challenge in working with youth is “sometimes young people have negative impressions from well-meaning adults in the church who maybe aren’t gracious in their dealings with them,” further confiding, “I grew up in church, and by the time I was a teenager I was a little sick of it!” Webb recalled Jerome Dimes, his mentor in divinity school, and how “he showed me a different side of what a Christian can be,” and provided him the “perfect combination of persistence and space” to let Webb walk further along his faith journey.
A recent graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary’s Master of Divinity program, Webb will help GNJ young people see that different side of what a Christian will be as he will plan and coordinate events (including IGNITE) and resources that help youth and youth workers connect to God.
“We are blessed that Kerwin has decided to join us,” said Drew. “His leadership will move us forward in our mission to reach new disciples.”
Sutherland and Webb have hit the ground running. Sutherland led the Mosaic Ministry cohort at the Innovation Leadership Institute and Webb is helping lead the Joshua Generation, a civil rights pilgrimage with GNJ youth exploring racial justice.
Next Generation Ministries is cultivating and catalyzing the next generation of enthusiastic disciples of Jesus Christ who connect, grow and lead in their congregations and communities for the transformation of the world. Webb and Sutherland will help them in the journey.