It only takes a spark: Ben Bouwman

It only takes a spark: Ben Bouwman

AMBS MDiv student Ben Bouwman (at far left) instructs high school campers on how to paddle a canoe while serving at Menno Haven Camp and Retreat Center in Tiskilwa, Ill., before coming to seminary. (Photo provided)

Annette Brill Bergstresser

Camping staff members follow call to seminary

This year, 13 students at AMBS share a common background as staff members at Mennonite camps and retreat centers. Meet one of the 13: Ben Bouwman of Woodridge, Ill.

Home congregation
Lombard Mennonite Church, Lombard, Ill.; currently a member at Prairie Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart

Education and program of study
I have a bachelor’s degree in social work from Goshen (Ind.) College. At AMBS, I am in my second year in the Master of Divinity pastoral ministry program.

How did your camp staff experience play a role in bringing you to seminary?
At Menno Haven Camp and Retreat Center in Tiskilwa, Ill., I was a counselor during the summer of 2007, program assistant during the summer of 2008, and program director from December 2010 to May of 2014.

There were many aspects of camp that played a role in bringing me to seminary. One of these is working with so many of the Mennonite churches in Illinois Mennonite Conference. My frequent interaction with pastors, youth leaders and other lay leaders gave me insights into church life.

Another thing was planning retreats for people of all ages. I was able to think a lot about worship and Bible studies as I shaped different retreats. These hands-on experiences shaped my love for the church and my interest in being involved in a formal way. 

What are your thoughts about the future?
My plan is to be a pastor. I’d be open to bi-vocational work as well.

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