APCE honors a trio of educators

Honorees have made varied and valuable contributions over their many years of denominational and congregational service

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Photo by Aaron Burden via Unsplash

LOUISVILLE — The Association of Partners in Christian Education, formerly the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE), honored three longtime educators during its annual conference being held in-person and online from Chicago.

APCE Enrich/Educator of the Year Award

Gina Yeager-Buckley is the associate for Presbyterian Youth and Triennium with the Presbyterian Mission Agency. According to her biography on the APCE website, Yeager-Buckley became a Certified Christian Educator in 1994 at APCE’s annual event in Dallas.

Gina Yeager-Buckley

She studied technical theater at the University of Texas at Austin intending to become an art director in movies. Her first church call was a director of Christian education at Faith Presbyterian Church in Huntsville, Alabama. She came to the PC(USA)’s national office in 1996 and began leading Presbyterian Youth Triennium two years later.

She helped envision and launch the Presbyterian Youth Workers’ Association and has helped to develop numerous resources. Yeager-Buckley said one of her greatest joys is serving as youth advisor and Sunday school teacher at Central Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. She’s married to Andrew Yeager-Buckley, Director of Operations at Worship Times.

“Gina embodies the APCE Enrich Award,” said one of the people who nominated Yeager-Buckley. “Her commitment to faith formation with young people and their families is relentless.”

SUSTAIN Lifetime Achievement Award

The Rev. Dr. Von Clemans is an educator and pastor as well as a coach, author and church leader in adult faith formation and educational technology. He retired in 2017 after 18 years as associate pastor for Adult Faith Formation Ministries at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Rev. Dr. Von Clemans

In his biography, Clemans said he enjoys being in dialogue about health and growth in ministry, using Family Systems Theory to navigate life and ministry. He recently served as a congregational coach for Vibrant Faith’s Creating a Culture of Calling Initiative and is an online instructor for Vibrant Faith Ministries.

Many churches have benefited from Clemans sharing how to use technology in varied ways. He developed and administers the Facebook Group TechTools4CE.

Clemans is a graduate of Union Presbyterian Seminary (MDiv) and the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia. In 2014, Clemans completed a doctoral degree at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, with a primary focus on educational technology.

Clemans served as APCE president in 2016. He is a member of the Religious Education Association and the Healthy Congregations Network and is an Associate Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation.

Clemans is married to Marion Sensenich Clemans, a retired PC(USA) educator. They live in Charlotte and have two adult children and three grandchildren.

EMPOWER Award

According to her biography, Leah Wyckoff grew up in First Presbyterian Church in Norman, Oklahoma, and has served as a deacon, ruling elder and educator in several congregations.

Leah Wyckoff

She earned a degree in chemical engineering from Rice University and worked in the commodity chemical industry for 15 years before attending the Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas. She completed her MDiv degree at Brite in 2006 and then began work at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth as the Christian educator for the Worship on Wednesday! (WOW!) midweek outreach program, which recently became a new worshiping community in the PC(USA).

Wyckoff volunteers and participates in ministry with her family’s congregation, Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Bedford, Texas, and volunteers with The 6:8 Project, a ministry that works with a low-income, ethnically diverse neighborhood east of downtown Fort Worth.

Since 2010, she has served a second part-time position as director of Grace Presbytery’s Resource Center, where she provides support and assistance to volunteer and staff church educators as well as pastors in Grace Presbytery’s congregations. At the onset of the pandemic, she initiated bi-weekly online Educator Coffee Hour meetings for those passionate about education in the presbytery and beyond. During the coffee hours, educators share prayer concerns and support one another in the challenges of their ministry.

She is married to Ken Richardson. They have an adult daughter and live in North Richland Hills, Texas.


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