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Fall Conference 2018

In his book The Bruised Reed, Richard Sibbes wrote, “We have this for a foundation truth, that there is more mercy in Christ than sin in us." This has become one of the most-repeated, and much-beloved, summaries of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That in the face of our overwhelming sin, God responds with even more overwhelming mercy and grace in Jesus.

Join us this weekend as we explore what many have called the greatest chapter in the Bible—Romans 8. We will explore the depths of our sin and the glory in the wonder of redemption. We will consider our response to grace, and find transforming hope for the present and the future.

Is there more mercy in Christ than there is sin in us? Is that even possible? Join us at Fall Conference and find out!

Main Sessions

  1. Romans 8:1–11 (David Royes)
  2. Romans 8:12–17 (Tom Hallman)
  3. Romans 8:18–30 (Mark Fodale)
  4. Romans 8:31–39 (Clint Watkins)


Registration is now closed.

When you registered, you should have received an email containing important information about the Fall Conference. If you did not receive this email, please email as soon as possible so we can get it to you!


The cost of the conference for students is $179.

This covers materials, housing, and meals from Saturday breakfast through Sunday breakfast (excluding Saturday dinner, which will be out on the town). To reserve your spot at the conference, you must make a payment of at least $19 at the time of registration using a credit or debit card. You can pay the remaining balance in one of three ways:

  1. pay online during the registration period
  2. mail a check or cash
  3. pay in person when you arrive at the conference

If sending payment by mail, please make checks payable to DiscipleMakers and write “Fall Conference" in the memo line. Please send your payment before the registration deadline. Mail your payment to: DiscipleMakers, 365 Science Park Road, State College, PA 16803

Cancellation Policy

You may cancel your registration at any time by emailing Whether you are eligible for a refund depends on when you cancel.

If you cancel before the registration deadline (October 5 at 11:59pm): You will be refunded the amount you paid when you registered.

If you cancel after the registration deadline but before 48 hours prior to the event (October 17 at 4:00pm): You will not be refunded your initial payment, but you will not have to pay any remaining balance.

If you cancel after 48 hours prior to the event OR you never cancel: You will not be refunded your initial payment, and you will be responsible for paying any remaining balance.

What to Bring

A Bible! If you don't have a Bible, we will provide one for you at the conference.

Arriving at the Conference

Please plan to arrive at the Harrisburg Hilton by 6:30pm for check in and unpacking. Once you’ve parked in the Walnut Street Garage, proceed to the elevator and press the button marked “LEVEL A.” This will take you directly to the Hilton. When the doors open you should see some friendly DiscipleMakers staff telling you where to go! Registration will be located just outside the main ballroom on the second floor. Please check in and pick up your conference materials, which will inform you of your housing details and other important information.

Breakout Session Descriptions

Instability: Thriving in an Unpredictable World
Nick Smartt & Matt Geiger

“The only thing consistent in my life is change.” Trade wars fluctuate our economy. Marriages end in divorce. Best friends come and go. College majors are switched on a whim. Staying unattached to anything is the safest thing you can do, right? Wrong. Join us to see how you can live life to the fullest in the midst of an unreliable world.

Nick & Matt started the International Student group within Penn State’s DCF. They both are very committed to seeing the good news of Jesus reaching all over the globe. They long to see more faithful disciples commit to being part of completing Jesus mission for making disciples of all nations.

“I’ll Do It Tomorrow”: How to Beat Procrastination
Mike Chartowich

Do you always find yourself doing things at the last minute? Have you let people down by missing deadlines? Or maybe you are diligent in some areas like school but put off other things like hard conversations or big life decisions. In this workshop we will discuss the causes of procrastination and the spiritual remedies. We will also look at some practical strategies you can start even before you leave the conference!

Mike has served with DiscipleMakers for 18 years as a campus staff. He has a B.A. in Philosophy and Anthropology from Bloomsburg University. He lives in Bloomsburg with his wife Lyn and their six children. He is a self-confessed procrastinator and can tell plenty of stories of late night cramming!

If We Only Knew! Reflections on Marriage after 25 Years of Marriage
Mark & Shannon Fodale

After 1/4 century of married life, God has taught us so much! For those preparing for the marriage season, or longing for it someday, we'd love to give you some thoughts on what know now that we wish we had known then!

Mark & Shannon just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. They have labored side-by-side in campus ministry for their entire marriage, while raising 4 wonderful children who (by God's grace) love Jesus.

How to Fight Like a Christian
Heather Smartt & Gene Williams

How do Christians fight? Sometimes it can feel like the only option in a disagreement is to win and bash the other person or to lose and throw up the white flag. Is there even a way to disagree without hurting your relationship? Join two friends who learned from their mistakes and hear how Jesus Christ calls us to work through our problems with others in a way that loves them and honors God.

Heather Smartt serves on campus with her husband Nick on the Penn State Team and Gene Williams serves in the Finance Department of Headquarters. Though friends now, they weren’t always sure they wanted to be. When Heather and Gene joined staff at a similar time they learned first-hand how working through conflict together can be painful if done poorly, but a relief and glorifying to God if done redemptively.

Black Lives Do Matter: Understanding Racism Biblically, Historically, and Personally
Andy Cimbala, Sarah Evans, Bria Griffin, Becky Miller, & Kaylah Olshefsky

Racism and injustice are a disturbing reality in our country. Black lives are also made in God’s image, yet racism seeks to deny this dignity. Our first step is to learn and understand: What is racism? What does the Bible have to say? What can we learn from history? How has racism affected people personally? And what unique resources does Christianity provide to help address racism?

Andy, Sarah, Kaylah, Bria, and Becky come to the topic of racism with a variety of perspectives. As black women in America, Bria and Kaylah have experienced first hand the pain of personal and systemic racism. Sarah studied the history of race in America at Gettysburg College. Andy and Becky are learning about racism and multiculturalism. All 5 are humbly learning together what it means to walk in unity and see the power of God to dismantle injustice and bring peace.

Gossip: The Sneaky Sin that is Destroying Your World
Brian & Liz Parker

Gossip. It’s on Facebook, in the shows we love, all over campus, and yes, even in our churches. Sharing “juicy” stories and soundbites about other people’s business is so easy to do. But it can destroy friendships, wreak havoc on fellowships, and the Bible says it is something that God hates! You might wonder, is it even possible to resist? Is it ever appropriate to talk about others? Come see what God has to say about it!

During their 11 years of ministry to students, family, neighbors, and churches as part of DiscipleMakers, Brian and Liz have seen firsthand that death and life are in the power of the tongue. For this reason they are passionate about helping others to use their words wisely, guard people’s reputations, resist gossip, and speak in such a way that it may benefit those who listen. Brian and Liz minister at Muhlenberg College and help lead the Lehigh Valley Team.

Assurance: How Do I Know I’m Saved?
Jordan Eyster & Brian Stenson

Sin in your life confuses you. The warning passages in the Bible strike fear into your heart. Comparing your life to others leads to uncertainty. It all leads to that one fear-provoking question: Am I really saved? This breakout aims to help you understand what assurance is and what it isn’t. Join us as we examine the Scriptures to see if and how we can be sure of salvation in Christ.

Jordan (who serves at Gettysburg College) and Brian (who serves at Kutztown University) both grew up in the church. They’ve experienced the tendency to doubt their salvation and even repeatedly try to become a Christian in order to be more sure. They’re eager to begin this discussion about the Biblical view of assurance and the firm foundation for life that Jesus Christ is.

“This Is Me... or is it?” Understanding Our True Identity In Christ
Faith Thomas & Brian Seay

We live in an age when people value authenticity. The pursuit of authenticity is good, but what if it impedes our pursuit of godliness? After all, Jesus has called us to deny ourselves. So, can I be genuinely “me” while professing to follow Christ? Join us to learn about biblical authenticity as we study how God graciously molds us into His image.

With a combined 15 years of working on college campuses with DiscipleMakers, Brian and Faith have seen firsthand the freedom that comes from understanding true identity in Jesus. Both in their own lives, and the lives of others, they are passionate about exchanging cultural assumptions about identity for the truth of God’s word. In so doing, their lives have been transformed, and they have seen countless other men and women propelled to pursue Jesus over all else.

Ashamed: An Honest Conversation about Shame and the Gospel
Gary & Lily Christman, Shannon Fodale, Zack Gugenheim, & Tori Zbinden

Many Christians may fully trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, and yet continue to be plagued by crippling shame. The familiar words of: “I am not good enough,” “I am worthless,” “Who I am, is wrong,” play on repeat in our minds. How does the cross of Christ enter the deep anguish of our shame? Join us as we gather around the table to have a conversation about shame and the gospel.

Tori, Zack, Shannon, Lily, and Gary each enter this conversation through the lens of their own unique story with shame. Together, the five of them have many years of experience with a variety of college students who love Jesus but regularly feel ashamed. Their hope is that this conversation will begin to shed light on how Jesus enters into the shame we each carry everyday.

Tom Hallman & Cassie Wells

Some of us constantly feel like we’re failing. The rest of us constantly feel like we’re about to. But what is failure, and what does the Bible say about it? You’re invited to join us as we take a brutally honest look at the depths of our failure and the mercies of our Savior.

Tom joyfully serves as a husband, father, pastor and DM’s Director of Development. He’s been with DiscipleMakers for 16 years. He’s also terrified of failure. Cassie has served with DiscipleMakers for 3 years, most recently on the Berks Team. Fear of failure has played a major part in her life, and she’s excited to share how God is helping her to redefine failure.

The Struggle is Real: A Panel Discussion on Anxiety and Depression
Rhys John, Maria Noyes, Chenea’ Pfisterer, Amber Scott, & Alex Siford

When depression and anxiety hit, words like “misery,” “abandoned” and “defeated” describe how we perceive life. But there’s a different story, where words like “hope,” “loved” and “triumph” can be reality through Jesus, even as we face these struggles. Although we are not professionals, we’ve experienced God’s love transform us one step at a time as we’ve walked through this ourselves. Come join us as we discuss these struggles in light of the gospel.

Anxiety and depression can take many forms, and each panel member has gained experience responding to this battle with compassion, truth and hope. While Alex, Maria, and Chenea’ began battling with their mental health in high school and college, Rhys offers the perspective of someone who experienced this trial later in life. All have experienced healing take place, step by step, through the power of the Spirit, professional help and practical steps.

Cultivating Resilience: Wisdom for Facing the Bewildering and the Mundane
Ben Hagerup

Sometimes life feels normal. At other times, it is full of suffering or doesn’t make sense. How can we live resiliently no matter what circumstances we’re facing? In Proverbs, we see that the righteous are blessed. In Job, we see that the righteous suffer. In Ecclesiastes, we question if any of it matters. Explore how the seemingly contradictory messages of these books equip us with wisdom for life and point us to Jesus, Wisdom incarnate.

Ben grew up in Africa. He studied civil engineering at Penn State University and joined DiscipleMakers 20 years ago. Currently, he serves as the DM’s Director of Campus Ministry and Chief Operating Officer. He, his wife, Elizabeth, and their seven children live in State College. Recently, Ben took a seminary course on the Old Testament Wisdom literature. He is eager to share insights to equip others for lifelong joy and service.

Biblical Wisdom for Modern Media
Brian Roberg & Madi Wenger

In Christian circles, discussions about media and entertainment often focus on superficial questions about sex and violence while neglecting other significant aspects of how media affect us. This session will help you go deeper, showing how biblical principles speak to modern platforms like social media and video games. Engage with media with a more discerning eye—to love others and give glory to God.

Madi and Brian share a long-standing interest in media as a vehicle for truth (or falsehood), which has influenced both their academic pursuits and their ministries. Madi studied film and video production at Penn State University and ministers on campus at Penn State. Brian studied philosophy at Gettysburg College and strategic communication at Columbia University, and leads the Media Department of DiscipleMakers’ headquarters.

The Art of Small Talk: You Don't Like It, But You Need It
Keith Evans & Ricky Pfisterer

Small talk is something most of us dislike. We believe only deep conversations lead to authentic, intentional relationships with others. Yet most of our communication is small talk, and God desires to be glorified in all that we say and do. In this session we will unpack God’s vision behind small talk and discover why casual exchanges are not a necessary evil to endure, but an opportunity to bless others. Join us and learn how to develop your small talk game to be helpful and winsome to others.

Keith and Ricky were not born naturally chatting people up. In fact, both of them were perfectly fine not talking with people outside of close friends. But as they’ve been transformed by Christ, they’ve gained a passion to engage those around them with the love and message of Christ. They now work on campus at LVC and PSU, respectively.

Earlier Event: May 6
Focus 2018 [Both Weeks]
Later Event: October 19
Alumni Conference 2018