The leader of a faith-based mentoring organization said about 1,500 people have been through its mentoring training since the agency opened an Oklahoma City office in 2012.
Now John Sowers, co-founder of The Mentoring Project, said the city will become the “epicenter” of the national mentoring movement through the Long Live Mentoring Conference set for July 25-26 at Frontline Church, 1104 N Robinson.
Sowers, 40, said The Mentoring Project’s mission is to connect adult mentors with youths who need them. He said the organization focuses on recruiting male mentors because the need is great for such role models in the lives of young boys.
About six mentor training events have been held in the Oklahoma City area in the past two years, and newly recruited mentors subsequently have been sent to organizations in need of them, he said.
Sowers, author of “The Heroic Path: In Search of the Masculine Heart,” said the idea for the national faith-based mentoring conference was birthed as he and other leaders with The Mentoring Project thought it would be good to form a mentoring community among people and groups focused on the issue.
He said other conferences include The Justice Conference, an international conference focusing on biblical and social justice issues, and Catalyst, a national conference focusing on developing a new generation of church leaders. Like those gatherings, Sowers said he envisioned like-minded faith leaders and faith-based groups joining together to explore mentoring.
“There’s not a national conference of faith-based mentoring programs,” he said. “We wanted to invite people into community around this issue of fatherlessness.”
Sowers said the Long Live Mentoring Conference will include presentations by diverse individuals who know the important role mentoring has in a child’s life and the community in which he lives.
Speakers will include Joshua DuBois, former White House director of Faith-based Initiatives; Carey Casey, president of Fathers.com; Sean Alexander, former NFL running back; Ed Eason, guitarist for country music recording artist Carrie Underwood; and Josh Shipp, author and MTV host.
Sowers said about 400 to 500 people are expected to attend. People from 18 states have registered thus far, plus a group from Latin America, he said.
Some of The Mentoring Project’s nonprofit partners have been invited, he said, and some Oklahoma City youths received conference scholarships.
Sowers said some conference scholarships are available to clergy and faith-based agency leaders.
“We want to make sure Oklahoma City capitalizes on the project,” he said.
IF YOU GO
Long Live Mentoring Conference