Presbyterian pastor from Arizona keeps coming back to AMBS

Published: July 20, 2012

Mary E. Klassen

In spite of denominational differences and distance, Larry Corbett has come to study at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary each of the last six summers.

Larry has been a Presbyterian pastor for more than 40 years and currently pastors a congregation in Tempe, Ariz. But when he started coming to AMBS he was in a four-year pastoral assignment in Hawaii.

He already holds a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degree, and as a Presbyterian pastor, he is expected to spend two weeks each year in continuing education, he explained. When he lived in the eastern part of the U.S., he studied at Princeton for during the summers to meet this expectation. Now he comes to AMBS.

When he describes his discovery of AMBS, Larry says, “It’s been a goldmine.”
The story of that discovery started in the late 1980s when Larry’s son studied at Bethel College in North Newton, Kan. He married a woman from Goshen whose parents have both studied at AMBS. Jean Hirschler, the son’s mother-in-law, is a 1992 graduate with a Master of Arts: Peace Studies degree. She encouraged Larry to check out AMBS as his continuing education option.

What he found is as good as anything he could experience at a more prominent seminary, Larry said. At AMBS he appreciates the faculty, the sense of community, the facilities and the students.

In 2010 he took the course Job and Wisdom, taught then by sessional instructor Jackie Wyse, now a professor at Bluffton University. Larry said he was surprised to see other students reading the text in the original Hebrew, something he doubts he could have done even when he was a Master of Divinity student.

The classes he’s taken have covered a wide range of ministry issues, including Church and Race; Celebrating the Christian Year; Marriage, Family and Pastoral Care; and Islam and Muslim-Christian Relations. This summer he is taking Celebrating Christian Ritual in Worship.

Because both the Presbyterian Church and the Mennonite Church come out of the Reformed tradition, he finds the theology and issues similar. In addition, “AMBS professors encourage students not only to know Mennonite tradition and identity, but also to be aware of others walking along beside them.” he says.

“The problems we all are facing are so similar,” Larry said. “Whether it’s Methodist or Presbyterian or Mennonite, we are all facing interesting challenges.”
The two weeks each summer that Larry is in the Goshen-Elkhart area give him two benefits: he spends mornings at AMBS in class and afternoons and evenings with the members of his family who live in Goshen. “I go back reenergized and ready to go again,” he said.

Want to receive AMBS news and updates via email?