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: Michelle Curtis of Souderton, Pennsylvania.
Souderton Mennonite Church, Souderton, Pa.
Education and program of study
I majored in biblical and religious studies at Messiah College, Grantham, Pennsylvania. At AMBS I’m in the Master of Divinity program.
How did your camp staff experience play a role in bringing you to seminary?
I was a staff-in-training for a couple of years at Spruce Lake Wilderness Camp in the Poconos (Canadensis, Pennsylvania) and served as a counselor there after my first year of college. I had grown up going there and had dreamed of being a counselor. I also volunteered a week in the kitchen several summers.
Camp was one of the places where I got to test out and discover that I had a love for teaching — and teaching the Bible in particular. I would say that camp as a whole part of my life — not just my summer as a counselor — also helped foster my love and enthusiasm for Scripture and the Church.
Are there any specific stories you could share?
One day with the older campers, I was exploring the campers’ questions with them during morning Bible study time. I remember as I taught, more questions kept coming up, and we had good conversation. I had the opportunity to pass on what I had learned as a camper and also my love for God and what I had been learning as a Bible major in college.
I wasn’t thinking about counseling and teaching as ministry at the time, but my pastor at Souderton Mennonite, Sandy Drescher-Lehman … I was sharing with her what I was doing and how I was loving it, and she used the word “ministry.” It changed the way I thought about it. It was certainly a step along the way of realizing that I love this — and maybe the word ministry and myself aren’t as far apart as I thought they were!
What are your thoughts about the future?
I’m open to pastoral ministry, but I’m most interested in teaching and in bringing academic study together with the life of the church.
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 Scott Litwiller, Michael Unruh, Jeff Boehr, Lee Hiebert, Melissa Atchison, Brian O'Leary, Joel Beachy, Ben Bouwman and Renee Reimer.