Mary E. Klassen
Scripture was read in Greek and English, but graduates were challenged to speak in the language of love at the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary commencement service, Saturday, May 25, at College Mennonite Church, Goshen, Ind.
Lydia Neufeld Harder, Th.D., used I Corinthians 13 as the foundation for her address, asking how graduates can share the message entrusted to them without becoming a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. She used a metaphor from theologian Walter Brueggemann to recommend that graduates learn to be bilingual, speaking different languages in different conversations.
Graduates have immersed themselves in the language of their faith community, knowing its power to shape them into disciples of Christ, Harder said. Now, as they move into different communities—in a new profession or new school, or continuing in ministry with a new status as a graduate—Harder asked, “What language do they borrow for the conversation beyond their spiritual home?
“How can you share what you have learned in the context of the many competing voices in our society today? What language will you use in the many conversations you will have as you move into communities foreign to your way of thinking?”
The pastor and former director of Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre answered the question from her own experience: “What I have gradually learned is that the language of love transcends differences … because it urges us to listen.” Harder challenged graduates to listen deeply and respectfully in the communities where they will serve. “The language of love creates mutual learning and true exchange of wisdom and insight,” she emphasized.
Harder earned her Th.D. from Emmanuel College at the Toronto School of Theology. She has taught at several institutions, including Conrad Grebel University College and Toronto School of Theology and schools in Paraguay and Egypt. She participated in the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) International Peace Committee and was involved in the theological dialogues between the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute and Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre, visiting Iran two times. Currently she and Gary, her husband, serve as transitional pastors.
Twelve of the 19 graduates earned the Master of Divinity degree, four the Master of Arts: Theological Studies, two the Master of Arts: Peace Studies, and one the Certificate in Theological Studies. Two graduates of the graduates who completed the Master of Divinity degree also earned a Master of Social Work degree at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Mich., in a dual-degree program coordinated by the two schools.
One graduate has already returned to Ethiopia where he oversees around 50 congregations and teaches at Meserete Kristos College. One graduate is originally from Ecuador and one graduate is from Canada. The remaining graduates are from the U.S.
Six graduates have or are seeking pastoral ministry placements. Five have or are seeking ministry with church agencies and organizations. Two are pursuing Clinical Pastoral Education through the next year, and three are involved in ministry for people with health or disability issues.
AMBS is a seminary of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA. AMBS and the two seminaries that merged to form it have been preparing leaders for God’s mission in the world since 1945. Currently 2,329 alumni serve in 39 countries on five continents.
See our Facebook gallery of photos from the commissioning service on Friday evening before commencement.
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