Rooted and Grounded

Theme | Pathways through Climate Doom: Resistance and Resilience

Thursday, Sept. 28—Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023

Building on the five conferences held since 2014, Rooted & Grounded 2023 will examine theological, biblical and pastoral care responses to climate doom. Rather than being stuck in despair, how do people of faith find ways to combine active engagement and deeply rooted hope?

The conference will be offered in hybrid format. Some elements will be available only to in-person participants on the AMBS campus in Elkhart, Indiana, and some elements (all keynote sessions, worship times, and one paper/workshop option in each of 5 time slots) will be available to participants joining via live stream.

The conference will begin at 4:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday and ends at noon EDT on Saturday. Participants can also register to join optional immersion experiences on Thursday afternoon.

All participants are also welcome to stay Saturday afternoon and evening for additional meetings of Bridgefolk, a grassroots gathering of Roman Catholics and Mennonites.

For more information, email [email protected].

Keynote speakers

  • Kaitlin Curtice, a Potawatomi Christian author and speaker, will provide the Thursday evening keynote and a Friday morning workshop on “Resistance.”
  • Leah Thomas, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care at AMBS, will provide a Friday afternoon workshop on “Resilience.”
  • Jackie Wyse-Rhodes, PhD, Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at AMBS, will provide the Friday evening keynote on “Seeking Hope when the Path is Crooked: The Bible and Climate Change.”
Kaitlin Curtice
Leah Thomas
Leah Thomas
Jackie Wyse-Rhodes
Jackie Wyse-Rhodes

Papers and Workshops

Papers will be presented by:

  • Bennet Brabson, “The Fine Arts: A Powerful Expression of our Response to Climate Change”
  • Thomas Crotty, “Leading Our Way: Climate Apocalypse, Acceptance, Resilience, Hope Unseen” 
  • Isaiah Friesen, “Encountering Jesus, Joining Jubilee” 
  • Joseph Harder, “Towards a Mennonite Eco-Hymnody” 
  • Sheri Hostetler and Sarah Augustine, “So That We and Our Children May Live” 
  • Douglas Kaufman, “Grounding Hope in Climate Doom” 
  • S. Roy Kaufman, “The Role of Agriculture and Agrarian Cultures in Addressing Climate Change” 
  • Joanne M. Moyer, “Mennonites Responding to Climate Change” 
  • Anika Reynar, “Mennonites, Maya, and Genetically Modified Seeds”
  • Michelle A. Stinson, “Reflections on the Psalters’ Three-Point Turn towards Agrarian Hope” 
  • Mary H. Schertz, “Maybe the Stars Did: A Path through Climate Doom” 

Workshops will be led by:

  • Nicole Bauman, “Conflict as Generative: Empathy as a Tool” 
  • Trevor Bechtel, “Farmed Animal Welfare: The National Discussion” 
  • Jay Bergen, “Discerning Our Place in the Ecosystem of Change” 
  • Malinda Berry, “There is a Balm in Gilead” 
  • Laura Funk, “Building Resilience through Spiritual Self-Care Practices” 
  • Sharon Brugger Norton, “7-day Wild Church Eco-activism: an Artful Response” 
  • Michelle Sherman, Hazel Franco, and Savio Franco, “The Two Hands of Nonviolence” 
  • Jonathan Schramm and Merry Lea: “Paying Close Attention” 
  • Sarah Werner, “Radical Sabbath: Rest, Rootedness, and Resistance to Consumerism” 
  • Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, “Creation is Waiting: How Do We Live into God’s Hopeful Future?” 

Registration information and costs

• In-person registration, including three meals: $125 (student cost: $60)
• Online registration, no meals: $60 (student cost: $20)
• Keynote presentations only, in person or online: $10 each

Immersion experiences

These four options will happen before the conference begins. The cost is $50, which includes a box lunch (picked up between 12:00 and 12:45 pm) and transportation. The groups will leave the AMBS campus at 1:00 pm and return in time for supper at 5:00 pm. 

Protected Farmland, Forests, and an Educational Farm – Led by Jon Zirkle

This excursion, led by current AMBS student Jon Zirkle will take participants on visits to three private farms and forest sites in Elkhart and St. Joseph County, some of which have conservation easements placed on them with the help of land trust Wood-Land-Lakes. A short tour will also be made at Bushelcraft Farm, an educational farm directed by Jon just three miles from AMBS. Participants will talk with landowners about tending the land and how they chose to permanently protect land from future development as well as see and walk into fields and forests. The tour at Bushelcraft Farm will showcase garden space tended by youth and community volunteers, cover crops and flowers growing, and young tree plantings for carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat. All locations will be within 30 miles of AMBS. Limited to 6 participants unless someone is willing to take their own car. 

Potawatomi-Miami Trail – Led by Luke Gascho

A major transportation route of the Potawatomi and Miami People passed through the landscape of northern Indiana for centuries. This trail passes through land where AMBS is now situated. The immersion experience will include walking the approximate route through the AMBS campus and surrounding area, acknowledging the impact and conflicts as settlers began using this trail, examining the processes used in identifying the trail, learning ways Indigenous people have been involved in the trail marking project, considering the ways marking this trail memorializes the Indigenous history and presence, and reflecting on how these learnings are part of reparative justice.

Potawatomi Trail of Death – Led by TBA

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. Visit three more sites along the route as you hear about the hardships of the journey. (one hour van ride each way) Limited to 20 people. 

Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center – Led by Merry Lea Staff

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. (one hour van ride each way) Limited to 14 people.

More information

What to expect

The three days will weave together worship, theology, biblical study and praxis. In addition to keynote presentations, papers and workshops, participants will join in several worship services. An afternoon of immersion experiences will give participants opportunities to explore conservation and restoration efforts in the region. A schedule will come soon.

Conference location

This year’s conference will be offered in a hybrid format. Some elements will be available only to in-person participants, and some will be available to participants joining via livestream.

In normal years, the AMBS campus, with areas of native grass and wildflowers, rain gardens, a prayer labyrinth, a community garden and a walking path, provides opportunities for learning, recreation and meditation.


A block of 10 rooms has been reserved for Sept. 28-Oct. 1 (if 3rd night is desired) at Comfort Suites South, 27838 CR 24. This is one of the closest hotels, 6 minutes from AMBS. Call 855-516-1090 and ask for the AMBS Block. After September 7, any remaining rooms will be released for others to reserve.

On the north side of Elkhart (about 20 minutes from AMBS), there are many hotels with a wide cost range, and Hotel Elkhart is an upscale option in downtown (7 minutes from AMBS).
The AMBS guesthouses on campus may have limited space available. Check with [email protected] to inquire.

Bridgefolk Gathering

Bridgefolk is an annual grassroots gathering of Roman Catholics and Mennonites. This year, their gathering will include the Rooted and Grounded Conference and extend through Saturday evening. This will be livestreamed for participants at a distance. All who are interested are welcome to join them for worship, conversations, and a closing love feast. On the registration form, mark “Bridgefolk,” and the $25 will cover both lunch and supper on Saturday for those coming in person, or AV staff for those joining online.


Contact us

For more information, email [email protected].

Learn more about past gatherings

2021 ► Rooted and Grounded keynotes explore loss, connection and imagination

2018 ► Rooted and Grounded speakers call for changed value systems, worldviews

2017 ► Rooted and Grounded participants challenged to radical discipleship in caring for creation

2015 ► Rooted and Grounded conference yields hope for the future

2014 ► The Bible was central in Rooted and Grounded conference on land and discipleship