Six participants from Mennonite Church USA congregations completed the Journey Missional Leadership Development Program in 2021. The distance-friendly certificate program develops leaders centered in Jesus Christ for ministries in local churches and communities. It’s designed for pastors, those exploring a call to ministry, church planters and lay leaders.
The program — which consists of online study, biweekly meetings with a mentor, and face-to-face gatherings — currently has 18 participants in the U.S., Canada, Southeast Asia and Uganda.
“I’m deeply impressed by our Journey graduates’ hunger for learning, wholehearted investment in ministries of various kinds in their churches and communities, and growth in many different areas — including spiritual disciplines, Bible study and theology, personal character, leadership and more,” said Jewel Gingerich Longenecker, PhD, Dean of Lifelong Learning. “Their commitment to God and the church, together with their development during the Journey program, are truly inspiring!”
Jan Croyle, Wadsworth, Ohio. Jan had been an accountant for 35 years and felt God was calling her to something more. Through her experience with the program, she is now Pastor at her congregation, First Mennonite Church in Wadsworth (Central District Conference). Her mentor was Marilyn Rossiter of Summit Mennonite Church (Ohio Conference).
“When I began this program, I had no idea what God had planned for me. I ended my Journey program not simply with a piece of paper, but with a whole new world opened for me to truly experience and say ‘yes’ to the Spirit’s call. I have been the pastor [at Wadsworth] now for over a year, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Hilarion Chidi Ihezuoh, Los Angeles, California. Chidi is an ordained pastor serving with Mosaic Mennonite Conference. His mentor was Anthonia Onye of Los Angeles Faith Chapel (Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference).
“Jewel and the staff and instructors (Duane Beck, Roland Kuhl and Donna Mast) are amazing. A thrilling thing with my instructors is that they have continued to provide support for me even after I finished the program. Journey is a key requirement for building your spiritual formation and direction as a pastor. It provides a platform in knowing the roots of the Anabaptists, teaches you a lot about the Bible and provides you with the right approach for pastoral care.”
Jolene Miller, Roanoke, Illinois. Jolene applied for Journey in 2018, immediately after joining the pastoral team of Roanoke Mennonite Church in Eureka, Illinois, as Pastor of Worship and Community Life. She anticipates her ordination process with Illinois Mennonite Conference beginning soon. Her mentor was Jane Roeschley of the Mennonite Church of Normal (Illinois Mennonite Conference).
“I cannot overstate Journey’s value in equipping me to grow the Kingdom in my little corner of the world. I was repeatedly amazed at how God worked through well timed lessons to equip me at just the right time for new tasks and responsibilities as they occurred. Journey was crucial in equipping me for ministry, as well as helping me develop and claim my pastoral identity.”
Ellen M. Morey, Elkhart, Indiana. Ellen is an elder at Prairie Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart (Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference), and is exploring involvement with the Hermitage Community. She is also a production seamstress. Her mentors were Dr. Sally Longley and Eleanor Kreider of Prairie Street and Nina Bartelt Lanctot, a spiritual director.
“In Journey, I experienced the movement of G-d* in ways that surprised me and brought new life into my faith. Overall, coming out of the program, I have a greater awareness of the movement of the Spirit and greater compassion for myself as I strive towards the goal of integration with the larger body of Christ. [*G-d is a respectful way to refer to the Divine.]”
Two additional graduates of the program, who are not pictured, are Raymond (Andrew) Arnold of Family Mennonite Church, Los Angeles, California (Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference); and Jeremy Clevenger of Wooster (Ohio) Mennonite Church (Ohio Conference).
Interested in the Journey program? Learn more here
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