Annette Brill Bergstresser
Camping staff members follow call to seminary
This year, 10 of the 33 first-year students at AMBS share a common background as staff members at Mennonite camps and retreat centers. Meet one of the 10: Scott Litwiller of Delavan, Illinois.
Hopedale (Illinois) Mennonite Church
Education and program of study
I have a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies from Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg. At AMBS I’m in the Master of Divinity pastoral ministry program. I’m also working as data services manager for the AMBS Development Office.
How did your camp staff experience play a role in bringing you to seminary?
I was program director at Menno Haven Camp and Retreat Center in Tiskilwa, Illinois, from December 2013 to August 2015. Being in charge of the summer staff members really helped cultivate my leadership abilities and helped me understand how passionate I am about working with people.
Are there any specific stories you could share?
Everyday experiences such as the morning gathering time with campers were significant for me. Just seeing how excited the kids were to be there and to start their day at camp made me want to be part of a community of people who spend their lives together, and I think church is a good place to start.
There was also a point where two of my staff members were in conflict, and we sat down and talked it through together. Being part of that process was a very life-giving experience that made me think maybe being a pastor could work out.
Menno Haven was kind of a hub for church and [Illinois Mennonite] conference meetings, so I was able to meet with different conference leaders and pastors. It was incredible to be able to talk with them about the good and bad parts of their job, which was fascinating. Also, seeing growth in the youth and young adults who came to work at or attend camp or winter retreats was very life-giving. Even though I wasn’t a huge part of their lives, I was able to see them mature and change, and I think camp has a part in that.
I never went to camp as a kid or worked there as a student, but now I wish I would have. It’s a setting where you really get to hone in on your leadership and ministry styles, and it’s a great way to recognize how much of a difference you can make in someone’s life just in a short summer.
What are your thoughts about the future?
I would love to work in pastoral ministry or church leadership, but I’m open to wherever God takes me.
More student stories
- Read "It only takes a spark: Camping ministry is common thread in AMBS students' experiences", the feature article highlighting various students whose work at Mennonite camps and retreat centers helped spark their call to seminary.
- Read stories from Michael Unruh, Michelle Curtis, Jeff Boehr, Lee Hiebert, Melissa Atchison, Brian O'Leary, Joel Beachy, Ben Bouwman and Renee Reimer.