Boone Center Family Track

The Boone Center for the Family at Pepperdine is a training and resource center that promotes healthy relationship skills for lives of purpose, service, and leadership. Focusing on the relational and spiritual development of young adults and married couples, the Boone Center offers specialized education and programming to young adults, professionals, and communities of faith to strengthen their own relationships and impact the lives of those they serve.

For more information about the Boone Center for the Family, visit



Mental Health Concerns: The Church's Response

Wednesday, 8:30–9:30 AM

Christians are not exempt from mental health concerns, yet many ministers and church communities are unsure how to think and speak about these issues. They also feel unsure about how to best minister to those who are struggling. This session will provide a framework to help understand psychological concepts from a Christian worldview and suggest practical tips for ministry.

Connie Horton

Connie Horton, PhD, is the vice president for student affairs at Pepperdine University. As a psychologist whose previous roles include university counseling director and psychology professor, Horton enjoys teaching church classes, retreats, and workshops for Conejo and beyond on subjects of mental health, parenting, marriage, and women's issues. She and her husband of 31 years attend the Conejo Valley of Church of Christ.


Growing Young: Helping Teenagers and Young Adults Discover and Love Your Church

Wednesday, 2–4:15 PM

In the midst of the discouraging reports about the aging and decline of churches today, how can you help teenagers and young adults discover and embrace your church? Through a landmark investigation of more than 250 diverse congregations loving and serving teenagers and young adults, the Fuller Youth Institute uncovered the core commitments that are key to reaching and retaining young people. This seminar explores those findings as well as stories of real-life churches that are thriving. As a church leader, you'll leave with a host of doable ideas to help your church change young people—and help young people change your church.

Kara Powell

Kara Powell, PhD, is the executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women to Watch," Powell serves as a youth and family strategist for Orange and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Powell is the author or co-author of a number of books including Growing Young, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Essential Leadership, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.



Helping Young Adults Connect with Family as Adult Children

Thursday, 8:30–9:30 AM

Young adulthood is a time for significant transitions—especially in the parent-child relationship. Help young adults to reflect on their families of origin and take ownership and responsibility to strengthen healthy relationships with their families. Specifically, leaders will learn to help young adults discover how childhood memories have shaped them, develop new insights about their parents, consider the impact of birth order on their own development, understand family dynamics, communicate with their parents, and form their own families when away from home.

Kelly Maxwell Haer

Kelly Maxwell Haer, PhD, is the director of the Relationship IQ program at the Boone Center for the Family. She received her doctorate in family therapy from Saint Louis University, a master's degree in counseling from Covenant Theological Seminary, and a bachelor's degree from Furman University. She has a wealth of experience working with young adults in a variety of contexts including counseling sessions, undergraduate and graduate classrooms, and the church community.


Reaching Across the Generational Aisle: Three Generations Reflect on Family and Faith

Thursday, 9:45–10:45 AM

A grandmother, mother, and granddaughter reflect on their generational distinctiveness and how churches and families can nurture healthy intergenerational relationships. Strategies for bridging understanding and cultivating appreciation among generations will be explored.

Susan Giboney

Susan Giboney is a recently retired professor of education at Pepperdine University. She has a master's degree in child and family studies and is a certified family life educator. She enjoys teaching premarital couples and college students and teaches in a women's prison. She also serves on four boards including the advisory board of the Boone Center for the Family.

Carrie Wall

Carrie Wall, PhD, has her doctorate in education and currently serves as the program director for the teacher preparation program at Pepperdine. She thoroughly enjoys working with college students and teacher candidates.

Jessica Wall

Jessica Wall graduated last week with a degree in English and a single subject teaching credential in English and plans to teach high school English. When she's not in the classroom teaching students how to read and write, she's the one doing the reading and writing and aspires to publish her books someday.

Purpose-Enhancing Parenting: Empowering Children to Thrive Under Pressure

Thursday, 11 AM–12 PM

Parents may differ in their views of success and techniques to motivate children, but all parents desire for their children to be successful. Parents can have a difficult time knowing when to push their children without creating major emotional disruption and tension in the relationship, and performance under stressful circumstances is more likely for children as they move into adolescence. So how do parents help their children strive for excellence in healthy ways? How does our Christian faith inform the ways we approach performance? This talk will highlight important developmental insights about how children deal with stress and provide many practical tips for parents and church leaders.

Ben Houltberg

Ben Houltberg, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Marriage and Family at Fuller Theological Seminary and conducts research through the Thrive Center for Human Development. Houltberg's research highlights the importance of healthy identity development within high achieving contexts that leads to youth thriving. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist and is widely published in the area of parenting as it relates to the emotional health of children.


SYMBIS Assessment: A Game Changer for Marriage Ministry

Thursday, 2–4:15 PM

You want the very best for the couples in your care and you want a system that makes it personal, profound, and easy. Say hello to the SYMBIS+ Assessment. Helping couples—whether engaged or married for decades—just got easier and more effective. Learn the ins and outs of this revolutionary tool from its creator—award-winning author of Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts Dr. Les Parrott. Grounded in research and infused with biblical wisdom and practical applications, SYMBIS+ guarantees edge-of-your-seat engagement with couples, in both one-on-one or group formats. You will leave this session with the opportunity to be fully trained and certified to use SYMBIS+ starting immediately.

Les Parrott, PhD, is a psychologist and #1 New York Times best-selling author. He and his wife, Dr. Leslie Parrott, are co-founders of the game-changing SYMBIS Assessment. Parrott's books have sold more than 3 million copies in more than two dozen languages and include the award-winning Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts. Parrott has been featured in USA Today and the New York Times. He has appeared on CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, The Today Show, The View, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.



Navigating Senior Journeys Through the Power of Stories: Empty Nesting, Caregiving, and Grief

Friday, 8:30–9:30 AM

The church has a tremendous opportunity to shift its focus from "ministering to seniors" to "equipping seniors" for meaningful outreach and service. Moving beyond entertainment activities and luncheons, seniors have talents to be tapped as they serve one another and others. This workshop focuses on empowering seniors to serve as they move through transitions and challenges in finishing a life well-lived. This session will provide new and practical ways to engage seniors. Seniors and their families will be blessed through conversations including topics such as health, family, friendships, life purpose, lifelong learning, caregiving, grief, and many others.

Ed Gray

Ed Gray, PhD, has been professor of counseling at Harding University since 1993 and, as a licensed therapist, has counseled individuals and couples for more than 35 years. He is the author of several "12 Conversations" programs including marriage mentoring and later-adult life issues, which help individuals utilize the power of stories to support one another as they face various transitions in their lives.


Feeling Safe in an Unsafe World

Friday, 9:45–10:45 AM

Statistics tell us anxiety and depression are on the rise. The daily news of shootings, hurricanes, earthquakes, and human suffering reminds us of our own lack of control over our future and the future of the ones we love. As Christians, how do we think about safety and security, not only for ourselves, but for those we lead and serve?

Sharon Hargrave

Sharon Hargrave, LMFT, is the executive director of the Boone Center for the Family at Pepperdine University. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist in both California and Texas and is the founder of MarriageStrong at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Hargrave and her husband, Terry, speak nationally and internationally on issues pertaining to couples in ministry, marriage, intergenerational relationships, parenting, and the Restoration Therapy model. She is the author of the MarriageStrong and RelateStrong curriculum and co-author of 5 Days to a New Self with her husband.


Flourishing in Ministry

Friday, 11AM–12 PM

The "Flourishing in Ministry" study is a Lilly-funded research project focused on the well-being of clergy and their families. This seminar will examine what motivates pastors to be engaged in ministry and what disrupts them from experiencing well-being in their work. The research explores how clergy, often working with lean resources, can give so much to others while also experiencing a sense of fulfillment and growth in their daily work lives. The seminar will focus on factors that lead to well-being among clergy and the types of relationships all pastors need in order to flourish in ministry.

Chris Adams

Rev. Chris Adams, PhD, is currently serving as the executive director of the Azusa Pacific University Center for Vocational Ministry. Adams is a consultant to a number of denominations and seminaries in the areas of clergy candidate assessment, clergy health, and pastoral leadership formation. He is currently participating as a consultant and researcher with the Duke Clergy Health Initiative, Profiles in Ministry Project for the Association of Theological Schools, and the Flourishing In Ministry project at the University of Notre Dame. Adams teaches and speaks at seminaries, pastors retreats, and conferences.


Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage

Friday, 2–4:15 PM

A great marriage doesn't happen by accident. We need to invest in our spouse and relationship every day, but this can be challenging as ministry couples with full and busy lives. Thus, we will focus on simple and practical ways to build a marriage that both can enjoy—even in the midst of busyness.

Greg Smalley

Greg Smalley, PhD, serves as the vice president of marriage and family formation at Focus on the Family. In this role, he oversees initiatives that prepare individuals for marriage, strengthen and nurture existing marriages, and help couples in marital crises. He is the author of 17 books including Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage, The DNA of Relationships, and The DNA of Parent and Teen Relationships.

Erin Smalley

Erin Smalley is a marriage strategic spokesperson at Focus on the Family and develops content for the marriage department. Mrs. Smalley is the author of Grown Up Girlfriends and The Wholehearted Wife, and co-author of Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage with her husband, Greg. Prior to joining Focus on the Family, the Smalleys worked for the Center for Relationship Enrichment at John Brown University. Together they have led marriage seminars around the world and trained pastors, professionals, and lay leaders on how to effectively work with married and engaged couples.