Rooted and Grounded:
A Conference on Land and Christian Discipleship

April 20–22, 2017

Immersion experiences

Immersion experiences take place on Friday afternoon of the gathering.

► Camp Friedenswald

Camp Friedenswald, a Mennonite camp near Union, Michigan, is home to a variety of landforms, including two prairie fens (unique, glacier-formed wetlands). One of the fens, with a boardwalk through it, is habitat for the endangered Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly. Over 30 of these butterflies were found last summer on site! The camp is working with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to introducing a new population in one of the fens.  A burn demonstration will be conducted, weather permitting. Canoeing and kayaking will be available to explore the lake and the fen modified by a beaver dam. Led by Simeon Paulson, environmental educator. Limited to 15 people.

► Family Homestead Tour and Prayer Walk

In November 2010, the Mezsick family purchased 55 acres of land in Southwest Michigan, 17 of which had been industrially farmed with corn and soybeans. Since then they have built a passive solar home, diversified their landscape with uncommon perennial fruits, begun a small forest-raised pork enterprise, and begun raising two children. Part tour and part retreat, the afternoon will include conversations about ways in which our homes and farms can witness to and shape us for God’s glory. Led by Alyssa Mezsick, AMBS alumna and farmer. Limited to 15 people.

► Goshen Wastewater Treatment Plant and CSO Holding Facility

Do you know what happens to your water when it leaves your home? This tour will educate you about the process cities use to treat wastewater and return it (even cleaner) to the water system. Also, you will get to see the new facility which holds stormwater from combined sewer overflows (a major problem for many older Midwestern cities), so that it does not pollute the Elkhart River. Led by Jim Kerezman, Wastewater Superintendent for the city of Goshen. Find out more: Limited to 10 people.

► Merry Lea Environmental Center

Merry Lea is a nature sanctuary and learning center owned by Goshen College, with almost 1200 acres of wetland, prairie, savanna, and sustainable agriculture. This tour will include a visit to Rieth Village, a small-scale sustainable farm (a teaching and producing farm) and ecological restoration projects. Reith Village buildings achieved a Platinum rating in the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System. Led by Luke Gascho and other staff members of Merry Lea. Limited to 15 people.

► Moving Upstream

Beginning at Baintertown Park where local Potawatomi history meets early Elkhart County settlers, several local experts will lead the group up-river in short sessions about settler/indigenous relations, being stewards of the river, solar electricity from church roofs, and local meat for local tables. We will work toward every settler-descendant being able to identify whose land this was (where I live today) before colonization, how did they lose it, and where are their descendants today?  We will also learn about structuring River Steward work for congregations, and look closely at simple working solar arrays. We'll close at Blue Heron Farm's meat CSA, and discuss what it means to "move upstream" in all these areas. Leaders Rich Meyer, Ron Chupp, Doug Kaufman, Brenda Meyer and Tom Stinson. Limited to 15 people.

► Potawatomi Trail of Death

In 1838, over 850 Potawatomi were forced from their homes in northern Indiana and moved over 660 miles to eastern Kansas. Over 40 of them died on the two-month-long journey, which was documented by a government agent and a beloved Catholic priest. Visit the site of Chief Menominee’s chapel, where the Potawatomi were rounded up for the journey, and a nearby statue of Menominee, who refused to sell his tribe’s land to the state. Visit the Fulton County Museum and its display about the Trail of Death. If there is time, we will also visit one or two of the markers where the Potawatomi camped on their journey. Led by David Miller, AMBS faculty member. Limited to 22 people.

► Solar Panels

Learn about the background and operation of AMBS's newly installed solar array. The workshop will include information, discussion, and a tour of the installation. Led by Ray Wilson, who works with Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light and helped AMBS apply for the grant for the solar panels, and Missy Kauffman Schrock, AMBS Director of Development, whose MBA project was researching and acquiring solar panels for the seminary. No limit.