Rooted and Grounded:
A Conference on Land and Christian Discipleship

Sept. 27–29, 2018

Immersion experiences

Select one of these activities for Friday afternoon (September 28). Transportation will be provided. Space is limited in each group, so you must pre-register.

► 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. It is one of six viable sites for the butterfly in North America! Participants will learn more about efforts to protect the Mitchell's satyr habitat, including the ecological restoration of an oak savanna adjacent to the butterfly's habitat. Canoeing, kayaking, and hiking will be available to explore the fen, lake, oak savanna, prairie, and woodland. Led by Amy Huser, Sustainability and Outdoor Education Director at Camp.

► Exploring Labyrinth as Connection to the Land

This immersion experience will happen on the AMBS campus. Participants will receive an introduction to the labyrinth as a tool for prayer and spiritual growth, experience the labyrinth, and then reflect on their experience. Led by Sally Longley, spiritual director from Australia and author of Walking the Labyrinth as the Beloved in John’s Gospel (2016).

► Family Homestead Tour and Prayer Walk

Visit the Mezsick farm, which features a passive solar home, diversified landscape, and forest-raised pork enterprise. 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.

► The Hermitage Community and Quiet Resistance

In late 2012, The Hermitage, a contemplative retreat center in southwest Michigan, learned that a pipeline right-of-way that was first negotiated in 1966 would once again become an active construction zone rather than a peaceful habitat. The center’s board first tried legal resistance, which was quickly seen as futile, then decided to hold a public “lament on the line” on Holy Saturday 2013. This immersion experience will include a remembrance of that first Lament, a look at the way it became an international event, a reenactment of the prayer walk to the pipeline, and views of the continued impact that this action of prayer and listening has had on the Hermitage’s ecological practice and witness. Led by Naomi Wenger, AMBS alumna and co-director of The Hermitage.

► Merry Lea Environmental Learning 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. Led by Luke Gascho and other staff members of Merry Lea.

► 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'll discuss what it means to "move upstream" in all these areas. Rich Meyer and others from the Benton community will lead.

► 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. 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. The group will also stop at one or more of the locations where the group camped on their journey. Led by David Miller, Teaching Associate of the Church Leadership Center

► Wellfield Botanic Gardens

At this Elkhart treasure, participants will hear a history of the land and water, from Native American use to industrial site to wellfield to creation of the gardens. The description of the organization will explore the partnerships between the City of Elkhart, Elkhart Rotary, and private business supporters. Participants will then take a walking tour of the different gardens and learn about the variety of activities that happen there. Led by Melissa Kinsey, environmental educator at the Wellfield Botanic Gardens.