2024 College Conference

Necessary Risks

January 2–5, 2024Young Adults
This event is hosted by Montreat Conference Center

Conference Center housing is still available!

Life is not linear or some game of dominoes. It’s full – in all the ways! Risks are at every turn. What are necessary risks? Some we can prepare for, others surprise us. They can be scary, unpredictable, concerning, and good. But, what are the necessary risks? Those risks we are called – in one way or another – to take.

Together, in worship, keynotes, and critical conversation groups, participants will explore the necessary risks we may encounter. We will explore the wonderful adventure and paralyzing nature of taking risks and how risks can actually be life-giving.

How do we see risks? Jesus’ disciples took risks. We may see the risk as them dropping everything to follow, but maybe the true risk was building relationships with those who were risking it all, who were seeking wholeness through community. Join us as we explore and learn about Necessary Risks together.

Sign-up to be notified by email when new information about the 2025 College Conference at Montreat is available.


Rates & Registration

Dec. 8
Dec. 8
All-inclusive Rate (limited availability)

  • Conference Registration
  • Conference Center housing
  • Galax Dining Room meals
$278 $293
Conference Registration Only
$168 $188

Conference Scholarships

A limited number of scholarships are available. Please contact Hope Barker at hopeb@montreat.org for an application.

Additional Housing

Click this link to go to a list of other housing in the area. The list includes rental houses in Montreat, area camp and retreat center housing, and hotels located in Black Mountain. Be aware that not all properties listed are available year round.

Meals/Food for Commuters

The Huckleberry in Montreat will be open and is an option for coffee and lunch Tuesday-Saturday.

Please check out the Black Mountain Chamber of Commerce as well as our Business Patrons for a list of restaurants in Black Mountain.

A large Ingles grocery store is located about 3 miles away in Black Mountain for any participants wishing to cook.

Before You Register

Again this year, we will offer online registration to request your conference spaces and housing. (No more faxing!) Housing requests will be processed in the order that we receive them until our facilities are full. After registering online, participants MUST either mail a check within 10 days of registering or provide credit card information when contacted by the conference registrar.

Attention Group Leaders: Here are a few things you will need to know before you register online...
• Basic contact information for your church, campus ministry, etc.
• A head count. How many students and chaperones do you have? (Please note that the special comprehensive rate is available to all college students and the first two adults in your group. Additional adults will be charged an extra $100.)
• If possible, the number of female students, male students, female chaperones, male chaperones, and/or couple chaperones. This is helpful to us when placing you in our housing.
• Any special needs your group may have.

Need to Make Changes?

If your group is already registered and you need to make changes, please select "Group Additions/Cancelations" on the registration form.

Refund Policy

Before December 1, 2023, your fee(s) will be refunded less the $50 per person non-refundable deposit. After December 1, 2023, no refunds will be issued.


Contact our conference registrar, Hope Barker, at hopeb@montreat.org or 828-419-9828.

Tentative Schedule

This is a very tentative schedule. There will be an updated schedule posted in mid-October.

Tuesday, January 2
3:00-7:00 pm Conference Registration/Check-In
3:00 pm Housing Check-In (if staying in Conference Center housing)
5:30-6:30 pm Dinner
7:30 pm Opening Worship
Additional Activities Following Worship
Wednesday, January 3
7:30-8:30 am Breakfast
9:00 am Morning Gathering and Keynote
10:30 am Critical Conversation Groups
12:00-1:00 pm Lunch
2:00-3:15 pm Workshop I
3:30 pm Afternoon Options
5:30-6:30 pm Dinner
7:30 pm Worship
Additional Activities Following Worship
Thursday, January 4
7:30-8:30 am Breakfast
9:00 am Morning Gathering and Keynote
10:30 am Critical Conversation Groups
12:00 pm Lunch
2:00 Workshop II
3:30-4:45 pm Worship with Communion
5:30-6:30 pm Dinner
7:30 pm Montreat Moments
Friday, January 5
7:30-8:30 am Breakfast
9:00 am Closing Worship


Workshops offered on January 3rd 2:00-3:15 pm, & January 4th 2:00-3:15 pm

Jump to Avoid the Goomba: Sustainable Goal Making led by "A" Williams

Using scripture alongside game design we will examine how we create good goals for our lives and how we can use these goals to build towards real change for ourselves and the world. Not only will we discover how to discern immediate and long-term goals, but also how to create goals that keep us engaged without getting burned out and exhausted and help us find purpose even in seemingly unnoteworthy times. If you've ever felt overwhelmed by the needs of the world, or like there's nothing you can do right now, this is a workshop for you!

Theopoetics and Theological Imagination led by Rev. Dr. de'Angelo DIA 

We will explore and explore an understanding of Theopoetics and Theological Imagination as Spiritual Formation and these as non-traditional outlets for spiritual formation (street art, performance art, secular poetry, comic books and graphic novels, etc.). In addition, we will examine the contributions of nontraditional theologians, theopoetics as a Living Metaphor and the application of theopoetics as a means of community engagement.

Camp Crafts! led by Katie Henderson

Come enjoy the joys of camp crafts and fellowship with new friends. Painting and Friendship bracelet supplies available!

Creating Soul Safe Communities led by Nathan Wheeler

Soul Shop is a faith-based suicide prevention movement aimed to help people of faith explore how we think and talk about suicide. This workshop will increase awareness of the dangers of suicide and discuss steps that can be taken to reduce risks including prevention tools and ways towards creating Soul Safe communities.

Rethinking Church Mission: Risks and Opportunities led by Bill Buchanan and Youth Mission Co Staff

What is the mission of the Church today? How is it the same or different than in the past? What is our role and what risks does Christian mission require of each of us? Join Bill Buchanan Exec. Director of Youth Mission Co and his colleagues as we explore God's call to love our neighbors through the work of compassion, justice, and equity.

Authenticity, Justice, and Podcasting led by Rev. Lee Catoe 

Podcasting is not new; however, it is new-ish to the mainline church. This workshop will talk about the core pillars of storytelling and how to apply that to podcasting as it intersects with the work of justice in our world. The culmination of the workshop will be the creation of a podcast episode, on the Unbound produced podcast A Matter of Faith, which will center the stories and experiences of young adults in our church.

Jesus & Justice: How Faith and Advocacy Work as One led by Jimmie R. Hawkins 

Advocacy as a Spiritual Discipline and a part of one's faith walk. Young people are uniquely interested in the issue of justice but don't always define it as a part of their spiritual journey. It is! and should be spoken about more in the life of the church. Young adults and social justice advocacy go together.

Yes, You Can Address Gun Violence led by Stan Wilson

This workshop will offer practical steps to take guns out of circulation and build relationships in your local community. We will tell the story of the hope fostered among three local congregations and offer encouragement for anyone wanting to work for change in their own setting.

Becoming Real - The journey to wholeness as seen in the Barbie Movie led by Matthew Messenger

The Barbie movie is about the human experience, and what it takes to garner said experience. It speaks to what parts of our lives make us human, and how important those experiences are to us, especially in how varied they may be.

Building Leadership Qualities through Service Work led by Deidre Allen (Young Adult Volunteer Associate Recruiter)

Demonstrate with the young adults the importance of relationship building as it relates to building and enhancing your leadership qualities and skills. This will be done through small group conversations and practicing some of the relationships building skills.

Mental HELP led by Jenifer Phelps

It is news to NO ONE that our mental health is a big issue for EVERYONE these days. Let’s spend time together discussing mental health challenges, brainstorming coping strategies, and creating a plan to care for ourselves, our friends, and our neighbors. 

There be Dragons: Meeting the Chaos of Creation led by Rev. Christopher Tweel

What happens when the dragons of chaos strike our life? Whether the dragon is a person, a group, or a change, through scripture we are given a glimpse into how humanity has faced the inevitable dragons of existence

Barbie, Gender, & Christian Faith led by Jackson Ringley & Alexis Schutz 

Barbie brings us into a conversation about meaning-making, storytelling, and play (all wrapped in pink). With an eye toward the relationship between a Creator and its creation, Barbie invites us to investigate how, as modern day Christians, scripture plays out in our lives. We will explore these themes together!

Sunflowers with Ted led by Todd Davidson

We can be honest: Season 3 of Ted Lasso left a little to be desired. BUT. The sixth episode, "Sunflowers" featured every character/storyline displaying some vulnerability that led to risk. We’ll use the episode to focus on and discuss the relationship between these two things and examine how, as psychologist and author Susan David says, “Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.” Important note: You do not have to have seen the episode…or any of Ted Lasso...to join the workshop!

Awkward Conversations lead to Necessary Actions led by Elder Shani McIlwain and Rev. Tara Spuhler McCabe

As pilgrims/Christians we go through certain passages and agree to leadership vows. Within these agreements we are preparing and being blessed into a life of necessary risks. Risks that are necessary because of our vows to live out the Good News of the Gospel. This workshop will be interactive with a range of case studies navigating awkward conversations into necessary conversations and actions.

Why, not What led by Beth Olker

This workshop is a version of PDA’s Decolonizing Volunteerism Workshop which highlights the need for building equitable and respectful relationships when serving communities. Adapted for this conference, this workshop will discuss the risks we take as volunteers and the risks communities take when welcoming in volunteers to help. As college students serve as volunteers in many capacities, participants will be invited to deconstruct theologies of mission, reflect on their impact as volunteers, and equip themselves with practices to convey mutuality and respect to all involved.

Loving Our Transgender Neighbors led by Avery Arden

Responding to the call to love all God's people, how do we cultivate communities that fully welcome transgender and intersex people? This workshop will get us started exploring how to: 1) transform our understanding of scripture by seeking out its good news for trans & intersex people, and expand our understanding of God; 2) transform our language and spaces to support trans & intersex people fully; and 3) respond to anti-trans arguments both from fellow Christians and wider society. Come with your questions, come with your ideas, or just bring yourself!

Necessary Risks 101 led by Teri McDowell Ott

We will discern together the necessary risks to which God is calling us, and practice some basic risk-taking skills; risk learning, risk listening, risk teaching.

In the Body led by Cole Arthur Riley

What do our bodies have to do with the spiritual? What stories of alienation, neglect, and embrace, shape how we inhabit our physical selves? In a world that often demands we divorce our minds from our bodies, we need habits of integration and attunement. Drawing on stories of chronic illness, trauma, and race, we will explore what it means to reclaim the physical good.


Looking for print materials, suggested social media posts, or graphics you can use to help recruit students to join your group? Check out our marketing resources for this conference by clicking here.

© 2022 Montreat Conference Center