Pastors Week Workshops

2016 Workshops:

Workshops will be offered Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon during Pastors Week. When you register, please indicate which workshop you are most likely to attend.

The Bible and Communities of Resistance

Presenter: Janna Hunter-Bowman, AMBS

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The church communities I worked with in war-torn Colombia received no training in civil disobedience or nonviolent resistance. They did not grow up with ideas of Christian responsibility emergent from the public theology of Reinhold Niebuhr or the notion of servanthood so familiar in Mennonite peace theology. And yet they resisted the attacks of militias. They developed creative ways to respond to the pressing needs of life amidst war. Churches became crucial local and regional reference points for understanding resistance and peacebuilding amidst war. Their contextual interpretation of the Bible and understanding of God’s involvement in history was indispensable to their engagement. Come to visit these communities through story. Learn about the way they and others “live the text.” Together we will discuss the intersection of contextual Biblical interpretation, embodied resistance, and peacebuilding.


Creating Communities of Engagement around Scripture

Presenter: Jewel Gingerich Longenecker, AMBS

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My recent dissertation research focused on six Mennonite congregations where pastors are leading “ordinary readers” in informed, enthusiastic engagement with Scripture through weekly or bi-weekly Bible studies. The study found that across these very different congregational contexts five themes consistently emerged: pastors’ passion for the Bible, their understanding of pastoral identity, certain personal characteristics, a shared pedagogical approach, and many formative experiences. In this workshop we will explore these five themes, giving particular attention to pastors’ personal characteristics and pedagogical approach.

In addition to five themes, the study also found that all parts of “the system” – pastors, seminaries, congregations, conference leaders, camps, colleges, denominational publishers and denominational leaders -- have major roles to play in nurturing habits of mind and heart that support the development of effective pastor-teachers. Come learn more about how we can work together to empower pastors to successfully create communities of engagement around Scripture.
The workshop is open to and pertinent to people from any denomination.


Exploring the St. John’s Bible

Presenter: SaeJin Lee

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In this workshop, we will explore how we might listen to, as well as see Scripture by engaging the 25 high-quality reproductions of the hand-written and illustrated pages of the Saint John’s Bible. The Saint John’s Bible combines contemporary artistic vision and skills with the ancient crafts of calligraphy and illumination of Scripture.  (For more information about the Saint John’s Bible, please visit 

By listening, reading, seeing, and praying with the illuminated prints, we enter into a place of deeper communion with God—one that is filled with holy awe and wonder. Come now, and see the Scripture anew in body, mind, and soul.


Many Ways to Tell the Story  

Presenter: Allan Rudy-Froese, AMBS

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Words are powerful. Words spoken in Christian worship have the potential to transform lives and liberate communities.  Sadly, words spoken in worship can fail to land on the ears and in the hearts of the hearers. The reading of scripture can be deadly, a story can fall flat, and the readers theater or drama which had promise on the page, comes across as dull and predictable on Sunday morning. But there is hope: we know it when we hear it (and see it). We have been there when the Bible passage comes off the page. The well-told story connects deeply. We have learned profound lessons from the interaction and voices of actors – whether they are reading from scripts or not.
There are steps we can take personally, and as communities of faith, to ensure that the spoken word in worship is heard and has the power to transform. Come and join in as we practice and play with words, exercise our bodies and our voices, and embody best practices for speaking in worship. Wear loose fitting clothing and be ready to put yourself “out there”. This gets physical and personal.  .

Meeting Jesus: Telling the Stories

Presenter: Don Blosser

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We may not be lepers, or blind, or even rejected by our own community, but there is within each of us a story longing to be told.  Our story might not seem miraculous, but it certainly is meaningful.

Through the stories of persons who met Jesus, the gospel writers give us insight into how they understood Jesus.  Who were these people?  Why did they come to Jesus?  There were lots of stories about Jesus being told, so why were these stories included in the Biblical story?
Are Biblical stories the only stories we should tell?  Might people find hope and healing as we tell our own “meeting Jesus” story?  We will look at the power of storytelling in the “Jesus stories”, and in our own stories.

Scribes for the Reign of God: AMBS Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Project

Presenters: Malinda Berry, Jamie Pitts, Mary Schertz, Daniel Schipani, AMBS

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The (un)holy Mix: The Holy Spirit in Movements and Institutions

In the fall of 2015, the AMBS faculty began a new, collaborative project called Scribes for the Reign of God. We found ourselves drawn to consideration of the work of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it is the chastening and sobering effect of the laments arising from our history with John Howard Yoder. Perhaps it is the many challenges to surviving and thriving as an agency for theological education in a time when the church that holds us within its heart seems fragile, scattered, and wearied by conflict. Perhaps it is the call to become more solidly Trinitarian, with the recognition that our pneumatology has been less than robust. Perhaps it is the awareness that the new strategy energizing us with treasures old and new will be unstoppable only if it is of God, as Gamaliel once said.

Whatever the confluences of need, hope, and yearning for deeper faith and more authentic expression of that faith, the AMBS faculty began engaging in study and conversation and writing about the Holy Spirit and its power as that Spirit encounters, in our bodies and minds, the challenges of the “broken cosmos” we inhabit: the realities of creation in travail, of conflict and oppression, of migration. In this workshop, Malinda Berry, Jamie Pitts, and Daniel Schipani, the 2015-2016 scholar/scribes, will present some of their questions and conclusions. Come for lively discussion; come for engagement and theological reflection.