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Venture capitalist and Bible teacher to speak at AMBS Pastors Week

Mary E. Klassen

November 28, 2012

Kim Tan, Ph.D., combining roles as venture capitalist, Bible teacher and social entrepreneur, will explore Jubilee living at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary’s Pastors Week, January 28–31.

Kim Tann

“Kim Tan is a very experienced preacher,” Alan Kreider, retired AMBS professor and former mission worker in England says. “He also has been exceptionally successful in starting businesses and investing in businesses.” Kreider and Eleanor, his wife, have had a 40-year friendship with Tan, which began the evening John Howard Yoder, Mennonite theologian, spoke in London soon after the publication of The Politics of Jesus.

Tan was the leader of a group of graduate students who came to that meeting, Kreider recounted. Tan explained to Yoder they had read his book and found the chapter on the Jubilee exceedingly important. Kreider quoted Tan, saying, “We concluded that if what we read was true, we would need to change our lives.” So they divided the Bible among their group, read it through, and concluded that Jubilee is a unifying theme that holds the Bible together. Following this, the group initiated a variety of Jubilee-like projects, and Tan has made Jubilee living a theme of his work.

Now Tan is founder and chairman of a private equity fund management company, based in the United Kingdom; he is a founder and inspirer of the Transformational Business Network that urges UK Christian businessmen to think in Jubilee-like ways; he has written a number of books, including The Jubilee Gospel; and he is involved in charitable initiatives all around the world. Although he attends an Anglican church, he has publicly identified himself with Anabaptism, and his beliefs fit well with Anabaptists, Kreider said, explaining that change works best when it happens bottom-up, and when people feel themselves empowered, they can do remarkable things. “He tends to be impatient with congregations, asking why they don’t take Jesus and his Jubilee message more seriously,” Kreider acknowledged. “Tan believes business people are often more likely to stir people to action.”

The Pastors Week theme of Jubilee living grew from the convergence of several issues, Jewel Gingerich Longenecker, AMBS associate dean for leadership education, said. First the planning committee acknowledged that in Canada and the U.S. the economic landscape is shifting. “Whether people have a little money or a lot, they are asking questions about how to live faithfully with money,” Longenecker said.

In addition, AMBS and Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) have been bringing business people and pastors together for conversations. Several sessions have occurred at MEDA gatherings, and participants value hearing from each other. Longenecker wants to provide additional opportunities for these conversations to occur, so more pastors and business leaders can benefit from the exchanges.

That is why the seminary’s annual Pastors Week is intended this year for both business leaders in addition to pastors. To encourage this, when a pastor and business leader register together, they get a discount on registration for the week.

In addition to Tan’s presentations, Pastors Week will encompass worship services in which Mennonite pastors will share stories of where Jubilee living is changing the church and their communities. Workshops addressing the theme include sessions on MEDA’s effort to find sustainable solutions to poverty, how churches can work more faithfully with their budgets, how pastors can preach about money, and how the Anabaptist tradition of mutual sharing has evolved.

Everence, based in Goshen, Ind., is a cosponsor of the 2013 Pastors Week.

For details and online registration, visit www.ambs.edu/pastorsweek.