The 21 graduates of AMBS’s Class of 2022

Twenty-one graduates were honored during AMBS’s April 30 Commencement Service, which was held in the seminary’s Chapel of the Sermon on the Mount and livestreamed. César García, MA, of Bogotá, Colombia, General Secretary of Mennonite World Conference, gave the commencement address. The livestream recording is available at ambs.edu/graduation.

Eight graduates earned a Master of Divinity; five earned a Master of Arts: Theology and Peace Studies; and three earned a Master of Arts in Christian Formation. One student became the first to graduate with a Master of Arts: Theology and Global Anabaptism, a program launched by AMBS in 2019. Four students received a Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies.

The graduating class comprised 14 women and seven men from seven countries — Canada, Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia, Nigeria, Tanzania and the United States. Ten of the graduates completed part or all of their seminary studies at a distance through the Master of Divinity Connect program, the MA: Theology and Global Anabaptism program or the Graduate Certificate.

Four of the graduates are serving in pastoral ministry roles or are seeking pastoral assignments; five are serving a church organization or institution; four plan to pursue further graduate studies; two are serving in psychiatry or social work; and two will continue to volunteer in ministry and advocacy. Five graduates are discerning future options for mission, service, advocacy and/or volunteer work.

Watch the Commencement Service recording | View the program

Meet the graduates

Janet Williams Abai | Evan J. Beck | Beka Biratu | Rodney J.S. Deaton | Taryn Ferrede

Sara Marie Gurulé | Kajsa Herrstrom | Joyce Peachey Lind | Karen J. Martinez

Sarah Joan Miller | Esther Amos Muhagachi | Yeshiwas Amsalu Muleta | Mariah Mohammed Omer

Andi (Andios) Oktavian Santoso | Angie Smith | Marisa Smucker | Benjamin Earl Parker Sutter

Kristen Swartley | Adela Friesen Wedler | Jennie Wintermote | Hailu Begashaw Wondafrash

Janet Williams Abai

Janet Williams Abai
Janet Williams Abai (Credit: Jason Bryant)

Janet Williams Abai of Jos, Plateau, Nigeria, graduated from AMBS in April 2022 with a Master of Arts: Theology and Peace Studies. She also was selected to receive a Commendation in Peace Studies from the seminary’s History, Theology and Ethics Department. She is pursuing a PhD in Systematic Theology and Ethics at Villanova (Pennsylvania) University.

Janet previously earned an Associate degree in Mass Communication from the University of Jos and a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication from the National Open University of Nigeria, also in Jos. Her parents are Mrs. Lami Abai and Mr. Williams Abai of Jos. Janet’s home congregation is Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Jos, a congregation of ECWA Gospel 4 Jenta in Jos. She currently is attending Grace Point, a nondenominational congregation in Philadelphia.

“From the point I started my studies at AMBS, I knew it was going to leave a life-changing mark on me on both a ministerial and academic level,” Janet reflected. “Through the theocultural diversity at AMBS, I was challenged, surprised, broken and remolded more into the vessel, woman and scholar who I am today. If I were to summarize my entire experience in one paradoxical sentence, it would be that it was a deconstructive reconstruction. I was introduced to multiple resources, theoretical materials and pedagogical practices that have shaped my theological understanding and have better prepared me as a young female peace theologian in a collapsing world.

“My time at AMBS has prepared me to develop language to contribute to the discourse on theology, peacebuilding, conflict transformation and trauma intervention on both ministerial and academic levels. I couldn’t be more thankful to God, who graced me with all needed provisions through my family, friends and ministry supporters for this journey. I am also very grateful for all my professors and fellow learning colleagues. I am glad our paths crossed!”


Evan J. Beck

Evan J. Beck
Evan J. Beck (Photo provided)

Evan J. Beck of Goshen, Indiana, graduated from AMBS in April 2022 with a Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies. He plans to attend medical school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Evan previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Molecular Biology/Biochemistry from Goshen (Indiana) College. His home congregations are Waterford Mennonite Church in Goshen and Belmont Mennonite Church in Elkhart — both congregations of Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA.

“I have thoroughly appreciated my time at AMBS,” Evan reflected. “I am fortunate to be part of a community that values questions and new perspectives on faith, theology and life. My understanding of Anabaptist theology and history has greatly expanded, and I look forward to applying these new lessons personally and vocationally.”


Beka Biratu

Beka Biratu
Beka Biratu (Credit: Peter Ringenberg)

Beka Biratu of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, graduated from AMBS in April 2022 with a Master of Arts in Christian Formation. He is waiting for an open door to serve God. 

Beka previously earned a Bachelor of Theology from the Evangelical Theological College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His home congregation is Semen Meserete Kristos Church in Addis Ababa.

“My years at AMBS have benefited me a lot,” Beka reflected. “The lectures, assignments and class discussions deepened my understanding of Anabaptist theology. My studies at AMBS have prepared me for a better spiritual life and ministry. I would love to thank AMBS donors; it would have been hard to complete my studies without their support.”


Rodney J.S. Deaton

Rodney J.S. Deaton
Rodney J.S. Deaton (Credit: Jason Bryant)

Rodney J.S. Deaton of Granger, Indiana, graduated from AMBS in April 2022 with a Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies. He plans to pursue a Master of Divinity with a major in Theological Studies: Biblical Studies through AMBS while continuing work as an inpatient psychiatrist for the Franciscan Health System of Northwest Indiana.

Rodney previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana; a Doctor of Medicine from Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis; and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His home congregation is Belmont Mennonite Church in Elkhart, a congregation of Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA. He is married to Julie M. Deaton, and they have three adult children.


Taryn Ferrede

Taryn Ferrede
Taryn Ferrede (Credit: Jason Bryant)

Taryn Ferrede of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, graduated from AMBS in April 2022 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Theological Studies: Biblical Studies.

Taryn, who completed part of her degree at a distance through AMBS’s MDiv Connect program, also was selected to receive this year’s Award for Excellence in Biblical Interpretation from the seminary’s Bible Department. She is the first student to complete her MDiv through AMBS after earning a Master of Theological Studies from Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo through a collaborative agreement between Grebel and AMBS. She plans to pursue a Master of Theological Studies at Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto starting in September.

Taryn previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Worship Arts from Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada; and an MTS from Conrad Grebel University College / University of Waterloo. Her home congregation is Lincoln Road Chapel in Waterloo, a Vision Ministries Canada congregation.


Sara Marie Gurulé

Sara Marie Gurulé
Sara Marie Gurulé (Credit: Jason Bryant)

Sara Marie Gurulé of Fresno, California, was honored during AMBS’s April 2022 Commencement Service. She anticipates graduating in August 2022 with a Master of Arts: Theology and Peace Studies with a concentration in Environmental Sustainability Leadership.

Sara would like to pursue work related to advocacy, particularly climate action as it intersects with social justice. She also hopes to work more closely with groups such as the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition, as a volunteer or otherwise.

Sara previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Religious Studies with a minor in Environmental Studies from Fresno Pacific University. Her home congregation is Willow Avenue Mennonite Church in Clovis, California. Her parents are Steve and Margie Gurulé of Edgewood, New Mexico.


Kajsa Herrstrom

Kajsa Herrstrom
Kajsa Herrstrom (Credit: Jason Bryant)

Kajsa Herrstrom of Champaign, Illinois, graduated from AMBS in April 2022 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Christian Faith Formation. She is considering returning to public library work while she discerns how to put her seminary education to use. 

Kajsa previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Germanic Languages and Literature and a Master of Library Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her home congregation is First Mennonite Church of Champaign-Urbana, a congregation of both Central District Conference and Illinois Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA.


Joyce Peachey Lind

Joyce Peachey Lind
Joyce Peachey Lind (Credit: Jason Bryant)

Joyce Peachey Lind of Harrisonburg, Virginia, graduated from AMBS in April 2022 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Christian Faith Formation.

Joyce, who completed her degree at a distance through AMBS’s MDiv Connect program, plans to continue serving as Associate Pastor of Community Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, a congregation of Allegheny Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA. She previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from Goshen (Indiana) College and a Master of Arts in Teaching in Early Childhood Education from James Madison University in Harrisonburg. She is married to Myron Lind, and they have two children.

“I have appreciated learning alongside students from around the world and have been enriched by hearing a variety of perspectives in my classes,” Joyce reflected. “Even though I have primarily taken courses in hybrid form or online from a distance, I have developed significant relationships with classmates and professors during my time at AMBS. My seminary experience has helped me grow in faith and in my understanding of myself.”


Karen J. Martinez

Karen J. Martinez
Karen J. Martinez (Credit: Jason Bryant)

Karen J. Martinez, who is Garifuna, originally from Honduras and currently from Goshen, Indiana, was honored during AMBS’s April 2022 Commencement Service. She anticipates graduating in August 2022 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Chaplaincy after completing her Clinical Pastoral Education training. In the future, she would like to bridge her psychological experience with a pastoral ministry assignment.

Karen previously earned a Master of Social Work from Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. She attends College Mennonite Church in Goshen, a congregation of Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA. She is married to Daniel F. Gutierrez, and they have three daughters. Her parents are Nestor V. Martinez and Dominga Guity.

“I had a great experience at AMBS, learning about theology and the different contexts around theology,” Karen reflected. “It was amazing to learn more about the Bible and different interpretations of it — a knowledge that I did not have before.”


Sarah Joan Miller

Sarah Joan Miller
Sarah Joan Miller (Credit: Jason Bryant)

Sarah Joan Miller of Middlebury, Indiana, graduated from AMBS in April 2022 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Pastoral Ministry for United Methodists. She also was selected to receive this year’s Award for Excellence in Pastoral Ministry from the seminary’s Church and Ministry Department.

Sarah will be commissioned as a Provisional Elder in the United Methodist Church (UMC) and begin the process of ordination. She also has been appointed by the Bishop of the Indiana Conference of the UMC (INUMC) to serve a new local church, New Hope UMC in Elkhart, starting Aug. 1. 

Sarah previously earned a Bachelor of Arts with majors in Religion and Sociology from the University of Indianapolis (Indiana). Her home congregation is Ford Street UMC in Lapel, Indiana, a congregation of the North Central District of the INUMC. Locally, she has been attending Faith UMC in Goshen, Indiana, a congregation of the North District of the INUMC. Sarah is married to Brad Miller, and they have two children. Her parents are Chris and Peggy Nunley of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

“My time at AMBS was enriching, challenging and life changing,” Sarah reflected. “Through classes, relationships, research and worship, I was challenged to explore my embedded theologies, to ask difficult questions and to explore fresh interpretations of Scripture and theological perspectives. The last four years of my formal theological and biblical education have also encouraged me to explore voices from the margins, learning from perspectives and contexts different from my own. I am continually growing in intercultural competence and redefining my mission as a citizen of God’s inbreaking Kindom.”


Esther Amos Muhagachi

Esther Amos Muhagachi
Esther Amos Muhagachi (Credit: Jason Bryant)

Esther Amos Muhagachi of Dodoma, Tanzania, and the town of Tarime in the Mara Region of Tanzania, was honored during AMBS’s April 2022 Commencement Service. She also was selected to receive this year’s Award for Excellence in Missional Leadership from the seminary’s Church and Ministry Department. Esther, who has completed part of her degree at a distance through AMBS’s MDiv Connect program, anticipates graduating in December 2022 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Christian Faith Formation.

In her current role with the Christian Council of Tanzania, Esther is empowering women and girls in gender justice; offering capacity-building training for women who are leaders and pastors; and advocating for women in leadership. One of her dreams is to start an organization called “Mama Naweza” to help people realize their potential.

“‘Mama Naweza’ is a slogan that one can use to encourage a woman who feels that she is unable to do something,” she explained. “I pray that God will help me to see this happen since we have many women in my country who have given up, yet they are able.”

Esther previously earned a Bachelor of Community Health from Uganda Christian University in the Mukono District of Uganda. Her home congregation is Shirati Congregation Tanzania of the Shirati Conference of Kanisa la Mennonite Tanzania (Tanzania Mennonite Church). She attends Iringa Road Mennonite Church in Dodoma, which is part of the Central Conference Dodoma of Tanzania Mennonite Church.

Esther is married to Amos Joseph Muhagachi, and they have four children. Her parents are Ernest and Dorcas Butendeli of the Ngara District in the Kagera Region of Tanzania.

“I am so grateful to God for taking me along this journey,” Esther reflected. “Staying on campus and studying full time was a great experience for me. I owe many thanks to my husband, who was so supportive of me achieving my long-awaited dream. AMBS and other churches also played a big role in supporting my stay as well as my studies at the seminary.

“I have learned a lot through integrating being, knowing and doing. The seminary has equipped me with a lot of spiritual practices and disciplines, which are so helpful on my faith journey. I can say just like Paul in Philippians 3:12, ‘I do not proclaim that I have already reached [my goal] … .’ Now it is my time to press on, despite the challenges that are ahead of me. I believe that the Lord who has called me will sustain me to the end.”


Yeshiwas Amsalu Muleta

Yeshiwas Amsalu Muleta
Yeshiwas Amsalu Muleta (Credit: Jason Bryant)

Yeshiwas Amsalu Muleta of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, graduated from AMBS in April 2022 with a Master of Arts in Christian Formation. He also was selected to receive this year’s Award for Excellence in Christian Formation from the seminary’s Church and Ministry Department.

In the near future, Yeshiwas looks forward to engaging multicultural churches in North America as God opens opportunities. For the long term, he is equipping himself to be a bivocational minister in underserved communities of Ethiopia.

Yeshiwas previously earned a Doctor of Medicine from Addis Ababa University, Gondar College of Medical Sciences, Gondar, Ethiopia. He is a medical doctor certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, with more than 10 years of international clinical experience. His home congregation is the Ethiopian Evangelical Church in Ottawa, which is part of the Ethiopian Evangelical Churches Fellowship in Canada. He is married to Hirut Abriha, and they have one daughter and four sons.

“The campus life, the welcoming and friendly international community of students, the open-minded and respectful professors and the amicable campus staff were sources of excitement during my stay at AMBS,” Yeshiwas reflected. “The courses I took deepened my insights and my understanding of Christian faith, gave me the opportunity to understand other perspectives and helped me to be more intentional in my doing.

“I also had challenging moments at AMBS that fostered more productive self-reflection and transformation. Engaging my own background and tradition especially with contemporary Anabaptism was sometimes confusing and painful. The thoughtful and caring response of my advisor throughout my journey at AMBS made an impression on me as it helped me to navigate through my struggle of theological studies due to my natural science background.”


Mariah Mohammed Omer

Mariah Mohammed Omer
Mariah Mohammed Omer (Credit: Perdian Tumanan)

Mariah Mohammed Omer of Addis Ababa, Kolfe Keranio, Ethiopia, was honored during AMBS’s April 2022 Commencement Service. She anticipates graduating in August 2022 with a Master of Arts: Theology and Peace Studies. She plans to continue working at Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Washington, DC, as a Program Administrative Manager in the Developmental Disabilities Department. 

Omer previously earned a Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies from AMBS, a Bachelor of Law from Addis Ababa University and a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies and International Relations from New Generation University College, also in Addis Ababa. Her home congregation is Madan Gospel and Song Ministry, a nondenominational congregation in Bole Bulbula, Addis Ababa. She currently attends Goshen Mennonite Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Her mother is Aster Helawi Gebreebzabeher of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

“Higher learning at AMBS has provided me with opportunities to advance my pursuit of ministerial and educational goals,” Omer reflected. “These academic skills and achievements are helping me to excel in my professional career.”


Andi (Andios) Oktavian Santoso

Andi (Andios) Oktavian Santoso
Andi (Andios) Oktavian Santoso (Credit: Jason Bryant)

Andi (Andios) Oktavian Santoso of Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, graduated from AMBS in April 2022 with a Master of Arts: Theology and Peace Studies. He also was selected to receive this year’s Heart of the Community Award. In May, he will begin serving as Regional Administrator for Asia and Middle East for Mennonite Mission Network in Elkhart.

Santoso previously earned a Bachelor of Computing with a major in Computerized Accounting from Bina Nusantara University, Jakarta, DKI Jakarta, Indonesia; and a Master of Divinity in Pastoral Studies from Cipanas (West Java) Theological Seminary, Indonesia. His home congregation is GKMI Anugerah, Jakarta, DKI Jakarta; the GKMI (Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia, or Muria Christian Church of Indonesia) is an Anabaptist-Mennonite denomination affiliated with Mennonite World Conference. While at AMBS, he has attended Pleasant View Church in Goshen, Indiana, which is part of the Evana Network. Santoso is married to Chialis Thuan, and they have two children.

“AMBS has been a place where I could reflect, relearn and reshape my spiritual formation, character and theological framework while integrating pastoral care, spirituality, mission and peace studies in a holistic way,” Santoso reflected. “I have been growing to be a reflective practitioner who is working with inner transformation and to be an ambassador of God’s healing and reconciliation in a variety of ways. I have learned to embrace my strength as well as my vulnerability as a wounded healer and peacebuilder. I am grateful for the way God is using AMBS to prepare me for my next assignment of ministry for Christ, the church and the world.”


Angie Smith

Angie Smith
Angie Smith (Credit: Jason Bryant)

Angie Smith of Wichita, Kansas, was honored during AMBS’s April 2022 Commencement Service. She anticipates graduating in August 2022 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Theological Studies: Biblical Studies. Smith, who has completed part of her degree at a distance through AMBS’s MDiv Connect program, plans to continue to work as an insurance underwriter while also volunteering on behalf of climate justice issues.

Smith previously earned a Bachelor of Arts with majors in History and German from Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas. Her home congregation is Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church in Wichita, a congregation of Western District Conference of Mennonite Church USA. She has two children.

“I have appreciated the opportunity to attend AMBS through the MDiv Connect program,” Smith said. “While challenging, this program allowed me to work full time while attending seminary part time. The many friendships and connections I have made at AMBS are ones that I will cherish for years to come. I will forever look back on this time in seminary as one of the most fruitful times in my life.”


Marisa Smucker

Marisa Smucker
Marisa Smucker (Credit: Jason Bryant)

Marisa Smucker of Goshen, Indiana, was honored during AMBS’s April 2022 Commencement Service. She anticipates graduating in December 2022 with a Master of Arts in Christian Formation. She plans to continue serving as Senior Executive for Ventures for Mennonite Mission Network in Elkhart.

Smucker previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Goshen College. Her home congregation is Belmont Mennonite Church in Elkhart, a congregation of Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA. Her mother is Dorothy Smucker of Goshen.

“Being able to study at an Anabaptist seminary while working for Mennonite Mission Network has enhanced both my study experience and my work with pastors, congregations and conferences,” Smucker reflected. “I have enjoyed the various opportunities to engage as a part-time student living off campus. I have greatly appreciated learning from the professors and students from diverse backgrounds.”


Benjamin Earl Parker Sutter

Benjamin Earl Parker Sutter
Benjamin Earl Parker Sutter (Credit: Jason Bryant)

Benjamin Earl Parker Sutter of Kansas City, Kansas, was honored during AMBS’s April 2022 Commencement Service. He anticipates graduating in August 2022 with a Master of Arts: Theology and Global Anabaptism (MATGA). Parker Sutter, who is completing his seminary studies at a distance, will be the first AMBS student to graduate from the fully online MATGA program, which launched in the fall of 2019. He plans to continue working for AMBS as Digital Marketing Manager.

Parker Sutter previously earned a Bachelor of Arts from Goshen (Indiana) College, majoring in Communication and History and minoring in Youth Ministry. His home congregation is Rainbow Mennonite Church in Kansas City, Kansas, a congregation of Western District Conference of Mennonite Church USA. He is married to Grace Parker Sutter, and they have one son. His parents are Dave and Janice Yordy Sutter of South Bend, Indiana.

“My education at AMBS has shown me a wide variety of global perspectives that make up what it means to be an Anabaptist Christian,” Parker Sutter reflected. “The faculty not only pushed me to think deeply about what it means to be Christian, but also wholeheartedly supported me as a person with real-life emotions, challenges and needs. My fellow students are stellar human beings, and class together has been an absolute joy. I’m so grateful to be able to complete this degree from AMBS from my home community and directly apply what I’m learning to how I interact with my own church community.”


Kristen Swartley

Kristen Swartley
Kristen Swartley (Credit: Jason Bryant)

Kristen Swartley of Cedar Falls, Iowa, graduated from AMBS in April 2022 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Theological Studies: Peace Studies. She also was selected to receive this year’s Award for Excellence in Theological Studies from the seminary’s History, Theology and Ethics Department. She is seeking a pastoral ministry assignment within Mennonite Church USA.

Swartley previously earned a Bachelor of Arts with majors in Music Performance and Liberal Arts (Concentration: Justice, Peace and Conflict Studies) and a minor in Psychology from Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She also earned a Master of Music in Instrumental Performance from Oklahoma City (Oklahoma) University.

Swartley’s home congregation is Cedar Falls Mennonite Church, a congregation of Central Plains Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA. Prior to moving to Elkhart to study at AMBS, she was part of Joy Mennonite Church in Oklahoma City, a congregation of Western District Conference of Mennonite Church USA. Locally, she has attended Assembly Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana, a congregation of Central District Conference of Mennonite Church USA. She is married to Luis Tapia Rubio (MDiv 2021), and her parents are Emily and Kenton Swartley of Cedar Falls.

“As a student at AMBS, I have had the opportunity to engage in all kinds of wonderful learning, from writing academic theology research papers to practical CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) chaplaincy experiences in the hospital to intercultural learning with people from all over the world,” Swartley reflected. “I am also grateful for the wisdom and care of professors and staff at AMBS as well as the great friendships I have built during this time. I am especially excited about the combination of peace studies, theology and pastoral ministry that my program offered, and I look forward to using all the tools I have gained in new settings.”


Adela Friesen Wedler

Adela Friesen Wedler
Adela Friesen Wedler (Photo provided)

Adela Friesen Wedler of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, graduated from AMBS in April 2022 with a Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies. She plans to continue volunteering in her congregation and in area churches, seeking to apply her seminary learnings there. 

Wedler previously earned a Bachelor of Education with a major in Music from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and a Licentiate in Music in Piano Performance from the Western Board of Music, also at the University of Alberta. Her home congregation is First Mennonite Church of Edmonton, a congregation of Mennonite Church Alberta of Mennonite Church Canada. She is married to Mel Wedler; they have two married adult children and five grandsons.

“Christian theology, Christian and specifically Anabaptist history, and Christian worship have always been a love of mine, and I have studied on my own through working with the church, reading and attending workshops,” she said. “When I retired from teaching, I had the opportunity to study these in a more formal setting [at AMBS].”

Wedler planned to complete most of her seminary courses online and to come to campus for a semester or short-term course, but due to COVID-19, she had to complete all of her coursework online.

“It has been so interesting getting to know others from around the world as we have studied and discussed together,” she reflected. “The courses reinforced what I knew, but more importantly, they led me to look at things in a new way and made me realize how much more there was to learn (and still is to learn!). A special thank-you to the professors who made me feel so welcome as a ‘mature student.’”


Jennie Wintermote

Jennie Wintermote
Jennie Wintermote (Photo provided)

Jennie Wintermote of North Newton, Kansas, graduated from AMBS in April 2022 with a Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies. She plans to continue in her part-time role as Director of the Resource Library of Western District Conference (WDC) of Mennonite Church USA. 

Wintermote previously earned an Associate of Arts from Hesston (Kansas) College; a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Religion and Elementary Education from Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas; and a Master of Library Science from Emporia (Kansas) State University. She is actively involved at First Mennonite Church in Newton and also was nurtured and shaped by Hope Mennonite Church in Wichita, Kansas — both WDC congregations. She is married to Peter Wintermote, and they have one child. Her parents are Kendal and Marjie Warkentine of Newton.

Wintermote completed her seminary studies at a distance through a combination of online and hybrid courses.

“The thoughtful approach taken by the professors created a safe space so that even virtually, I felt safe expressing my thoughts, asking questions and exploring my own beliefs as we learned together,” she reflected. “Having the ability to take courses one at a time as a young mother was a blessing, as I had many demands on my time and experienced a number of life transitions/events. The knowledge I’ve gained and the relationships I’ve formed have influenced me personally and professionally and will continue to do so as I seek to be a faithful follower of Christ.”


Hailu Begashaw Wondafrash

Hailu Begashaw Wondafrash
Hailu Begashaw Wondafrash (Credit: Jason Bryant)

Hailu Begashaw Wondafrash of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, graduated from AMBS in April 2022 with a Master of Arts: Theology and Peace Studies. He plans to live with his wife in the U.S.; he dreams of going to Ethiopia to establish a faith-based organization working in peace and justice. 

Previously, Hailu earned a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership from Vision International University in Ramona, California, and a Bachelor of Theology with an Academic major from the Evangelical Theological College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His home congregation is West Addis Ababa Hiwot Berhan Church. He is married to Yeshie A. Ali, and they have two daughters. His father is the late Begashaw Wondafrash, and his mother is Wubet Mengistu.

“A friend of mine recommended AMBS while I was searching for a seminary at which to study peace and religion, craving to be a change agent for the diverse religious community where I came from and in which conflict and violence are perennial,” Hailu reflected. “The education I have gained from AMBS has enhanced my prior theological understandings. I will continue to minister through the saving power of the gospel of Jesus, reaching out to the whole person of humanity with a transformative approach to nonviolence.

“My stay at AMBS for the last three years has been a blessing in many ways. Pursuing and finishing an academic journey abroad with all kinds of challenges is a huge milestone in my life. AMBS is a place where I gained inner tranquility. I am also very thankful for sensible friends, considerate AMBS staff, a supportive church community and generous donors who made my study possible.”


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