By Annette Brill Bergstresser
A desire to immerse himself in a learning community in preparation for pastoral ministry was part of what drew Lee Hiebert to relocate to Elkhart, Indiana, to enroll in the Master of Divinity program at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS).
Hiebert, who grew up in Kelowna, British Columbia, and was a member of First Mennonite Church, had served for three years as a part-time associate pastor at Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba, while attending Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) full time. In his pastoral role, he was responsible for the weekly youth program and youth Sunday school, and he occasionally preached or led worship.
To build on the theological and practical training he said he received at CMU, and to further develop his gifts for ministry, he chose to continue his education at AMBS.
“Within my Canadian context there are many great options for graduate studies, but few that are centered in a specifically Anabaptist tradition,” he said. “AMBS presented me with an opportunity to learn from a community that has been doing this work — specifically supported and directed by the Mennonite Church — for a very long time. As someone who is hoping to serve in the Mennonite Church, I find that it is only natural to breathe in what the church has provided for me.”
Hiebert, who is focusing on Christian Faith Formation in his MDiv studies, said he’s exploring what it means for him to be an Anabaptist pastor and to be part of the church.
“I hope to gain a personal connection with a community and a specific way of being the church that is located in the lives of real people and the traditions of Anabaptist practice,” he said.
He expressed gratitude for the scholarships he’s received — from both AMBS and Mennonite Church Canada — and for being able to pay most of his costs at par. These benefits have made AMBS financially comparable to any Canadian school for him, he said.
“If it was not for the generosity of donors and the foresight of many folks who have gone before, this experience wouldn’t be possible for me,” he noted.
Hiebert said he appreciates being in an environment where faith formation is a priority. He anticipates graduating this year and is open to whatever God may be calling him to next.
“As a school supported and run by Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada, AMBS has the freedom to prepare students for ministry that is defined specifically out of Anabaptist values and with attention to the needs of today’s churches,” he added.
AMBS serves both Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA. To learn more about the seminary’s academic programs and scholarships, go to ambs.edu.