The 21 graduates of the AMBS ’21 graduating class

Of the 21 graduates honored during the commencement service, 15 earned a Master of Divinity; two earned a Master of Arts in Christian Formation; and two earned a Master of Arts: Theology and Peace Studies. Two students received a Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies.

The graduating class comprised 13 men and eight women from seven countries — Argentina, Canada, Chile, Ethiopia, France, India and the United States — on five continents. Eight of the graduates completed at least part of their seminary studies at a distance through the Master of Divinity Connect program or the Graduate Certificate.

Eleven of the graduates are serving in pastoral ministry roles or are seeking pastoral assignments; three are discerning future options for ministry, mission or service work; four plan to be involved with education or research; two are engaged in social work; two plan to pursue further studies or training; and one is serving a church agency.

Watch the commencement recording | View the program

Meet the graduates

Marcos Acosta

Marcos Acosta of Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña, Chaco, Argentina, graduated from AMBS in May 2021 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Theological Studies: Biblical Studies. He was also selected to receive an Award for Excellence in Biblical Interpretation from the seminary’s Bible Department. He is exploring a ministry assignment. 

Marcos previously earned a baccalaureate degree in Telecommunications Engineering from the Instituto Universitario Aeronautico in Córdoba, Argentina. His parents are Luis Acosta and Mónica Barroso of Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Marcos’ home congregation is Iglesia de la Familia, a nondenominational congregation in Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña, Chaco; while at AMBS, he has attended South Bend (Indiana) City Church, also a nondenominational congregation.

“My years at AMBS have been challenging and exciting,” Marcos reflected. “Challenging because of AMBS’s commitment to academic excellence, which gave me the chance to grow, learn and explore many different theological topics — engaging with my own tradition and context in combination with Anabaptism. It’s been exciting, too, because I have encountered an amazing community and many friends, and I have been inspired by the commitments and excellency of professors and staff.”

Pratik Bagh

Pratik Bagh of Kutela-Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India, was honored during AMBS’s May 1 commencement service. He anticipates graduating in December 2021 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Theological Studies: History, Theology and Ethics. He would like to pursue a Ph.D. or a Doctor of Ministry in the near future. He is currently serving as a volunteer pastor at an Asian church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and hopes to continue to work in the church as a lead pastor.

Pratik previously earned a Bachelor in Theology and a Bachelor in Divinity from Allahabad Bible Seminary in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India, and a Master of Arts: Theological Studies from AMBS. His home congregation is Jhilmila Mennonite Church, Jhilmila Mission Compound, Mahasamund, Chhattisgarh, which is part of the General Conference Mennonite Church of India.

Pratik is married to Shabnam Pratik Bagh, and they have one child. His parents are Prem Kishore Bagh and Shubhkanti Bagh of Kutela-Saraipali, Mahasamund, Chhattisgarh.

“AMBS has been a community that has always stood beside me to help me grow in every area of my life,” Pratik reflected. “Being a student at AMBS has equipped me as a leader to be ready to teach theology and preach the Word of God at the same time. As a person who is called to do both — teach and preach — I feel well prepared to teach theological themes with conviction and to preach with an awareness of the sound doctrine, context, historical development and broader ethical underpinning of a biblical text. 

“I had always dreamed of studying in a Mennonite setting, and AMBS happened to be the right place for my family and me. I am grateful to God for the opportunity to learn here from professors, friends, the church community and beyond.”

Quinn Brenneke

Quinn Brenneke of Fort Wayne, Indiana, participated in AMBS’s May 1 commencement service. He anticipates graduating in August 2021 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Theological Studies: History, Theology and Ethics.

Quinn plans to continue serving as Co-Pastor of Prairie Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart, Indiana, a congregation of Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA. He previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Interdisciplinary Studies (Global Economics, Business, International Studies) from Goshen (Indiana) College.

“My Christian commitments were deepened during my studies at AMBS as I studied Scripture, theology and history in an Anabaptist perspective,” Quinn reflected. “I know more now than I did before, and I also have more questions to guide me on my journey forward. The friends and community I gained at AMBS were deeply part of my formation. Those are relationships that I will carry with me.”

Tyler Andrew Brinkman

Tyler Andrew Brinkman of Elkhart, Indiana, graduated from AMBS in May 2021 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Theological Studies: History, Theology and Ethics. He plans to explore a career in which he can continue his research, writing and possibly teaching. 

Tyler previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois. He is married to Crystal Brinkman, and they have one child. His parents are Jeff and Brenda Brinkman of Gallatin, Tennessee.

“I have been extraordinarily blessed during my time at AMBS,” Tyler reflected. “I had little experience with Anabaptism prior to my study here. I have gained a deeper love for my own Methodist/Wesleyan tradition as well as an even deeper appreciation for Anabaptism and the wonderful Mennonites I have met in my journey. My education and participation in the life of this community have given me strength during a few years of transition and, at times, painful decisions and grief. I will be forever grateful for the professors, staff and peers who invested in my life and gave me hope for the church as it participates and works within the life of the world to come.”

Meredith K. Caldwell

Meredith K. Caldwell of South Bend, Indiana, graduated from AMBS in May 2021 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Pastoral Ministry. She plans to continue working as a radiographic technologist while pursuing a pastoral ministry assignment.

Meredith previously earned an Associate of Science in Radiography from Indiana University South Bend and a Bachelor of Science in Health Information Technology from WGU (Western Governors University) Indiana (online). Her home congregation is Kern Road Mennonite Church in South Bend, a congregation of Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA. She is married to Bill Caldwell, and they have three children.

“From the moment I first walked on campus, I knew AMBS was where I needed to be,” reflected Meredith. “The welcoming atmosphere at AMBS helped me to open up and trust while growing and finally learning to understand my faith. My time at AMBS has been essential in the development of who I am today.”

Endalk Degefu

Endalk Degefu of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, graduated from AMBS in May 2021 with a Master of Arts in Christian Formation. He also was selected to receive an Award for Excellence in Christian Formation from the seminary’s Church and Ministry Department. He is discerning where God is leading him, whether it might be to a pastoral ministry position in the United States or Ethiopia or to a mission or service assignment in a different place. 

Endalk previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Education from the Evangelical Theological College in Addis Ababa. His home congregation is the Ethiopian Meserete Kristos Church in Addis Ababa. He is married to Tigest Fikere, and they have three children.

“I am happy to have been part of the AMBS community for the past three years,” Endalk reflected. “AMBS is a place that felt like home. I want to express my deepest gratitude for the support the AMBS community gave me to be able to study. I feel grateful to the generous donors who helped me pursue my academic studies, which would have been impossible without their support. Now I am well equipped to go forward into the mission field. 

“My learning at AMBS helped me to deepen my understanding of what the Anabaptist way of faith formation means for discipleship, through theological reflection in class lectures and discussions among different front-line ministers from every corner of the world. I am glad that through this experience, I am growing in my professional calling.”

Perry (Alex) Feldman

Perry (Alex) Feldman of Lithopolis, Ohio, graduated from AMBS in May 2021 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Pastoral Ministry. Alex, who completed part of his degree at a distance through AMBS’s MDiv Connect program, also was selected to receive an Award for Excellence in Biblical Interpretation from the seminary’s Bible Department. He plans to continue serving as Interim Pastor at Lithopolis United Methodist Church, which is a congregation of the Capitol Area South District of the West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Alex previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Middle Childhood Education from the University of Mount Union, Alliance, Ohio. He is married to Michelle Feldman, and they have one child.

“My journey through seminary has been full of unexpected twists and turns,” reflected Alex. “Along the way, the AMBS community has helped me to reflect thoughtfully and theologically upon those unforeseen changes in life and ministry. I now feel more fully equipped to come alongside and minister to others who are on their own beautiful, yet challenging, journey of life and faith.”

Salomé Haldemann

Salomé Haldemann of Strasbourg, France, graduated from AMBS in May 2021 with a Master of Arts: Theology and Peace Studies. She also was selected to receive this year’s Heart of the Community Award. She plans to explore pastoral ministry through a one-year assignment in an as-yet-undetermined Mennonite congregation in France. 

Salomé previously earned a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy from the Institut de Formation en Ergothérapie ADERE in Paris, France. Her home congregation is the Eglise Evangélique Mennonite de Strasbourg-Illkirch, France, which is part of the Association des Eglises Evangéliques Mennonites de France. While at AMBS, she has attended Fellowship of Hope, a congregation of Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA. Her parents are Joël and Christine Haldemann of Saint-Pierre-Bois, France.

“My time at AMBS was a transformational experience!” reflected Salomé. “I really enjoyed being part of a learning community where professors are invested in building relationships with students and walking with them on their paths. With AMBS’s integrative emphasis on being, knowing and doing, a lot of learning took place outside of the classroom — in informal conversations with faculty and students, in practice groups and at internships. In my years at AMBS, my love for the global church and the local community grew, and I found friends and peers who helped me discern God’s call.”

Becky Helmuth

Becky Helmuth of Goshen, Indiana, graduated from AMBS in May 2021 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Christian Faith Formation. In 2020, Becky ended nearly 16 years of working with The Mennonite magazine in Elkhart, Indiana; she is looking forward to pursuing a pastoral ministry assignment.

Becky previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Goshen (Indiana) College. Her home congregation is North Goshen (Indiana) Mennonite Church, a congregation of Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA. She is married to Todd Helmuth; they have two adult children and one high-school-age daughter. Her parents are Mark and Diana Whitmer of Plain City, Ohio.

Mary (Ann) Jacobs

Mary (Ann) Jacobs of South Bend, Indiana, participated in AMBS’s May 1 commencement service. She anticipates graduating in December 2021 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Christian Faith Formation. She plans to continue in her role as a Church Relations Resource and Network Associate with Mennonite Mission Network in Elkhart, Indiana, to further God’s mission of peace and social justice in collaboration with constituents across Mennonite Church USA. 

Ann, who has served through Mission Network for more than 17 years, is licensed for this ministry by her home congregation — New Life Fellowship Ministry in South Bend — in collaboration with leaders of AMBS, Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA, and Mission Network.

Ann previously earned a degree in Business Administration from Davenport College in Mishawaka, Indiana, and took courses in Womanist and Black Studies at Indiana University South Bend. In her home congregation, she is active in teaching, preaching, worship leading and offering prophetic witness as led by the Holy Spirit. She and her husband, Booker T. Jacobs, raised four sons and have 15 grandchildren. 

“Studying full time while working full time has been quite challenging,” Ann reflected. “I’m grateful for my journey at AMBS, which has imparted significant learning to me — learning that has deepened my spiritual journey, increased my character, strengthened my confidence in exegeting Scripture, and inspired my love for God.”

Ann named a particularly memorable experience from her AMBS studies: an independent study led by Core Adjunct Faculty member James Krabill, Ph.D. (in support of Mission Network partnership engagement), that included a trip to West Africa to explore sites of cultural and historical significance. She recalled standing and praying at the “door of no return” at Elmina Castle in Ghana, where Africans had been boarded onto ships to be sold as slaves.

“I was struck with imagining that some of my ancestors passed through this castle, and I imagined that my prayers would be joined with those who stood at this door, in hopes for a better life for the African and African American people,” she remembered. “I’m grateful for the rich, historical and inspiring learning opportunities I’ve had through AMBS.”

Joshua Janzen

Joshua Janzen, originally of Aurora, Nebraska, and currently residing in Altona, Manitoba, Canada, was honored during AMBS’s May 1 commencement service. He anticipates graduating in December 2021 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Christian Faith Formation. Josh, who has completed part of his degree at a distance through AMBS’s MDiv Connect program, plans to continue in his current assignment as Associate Pastor of Youth Ministry at Bergthaler Mennonite Church of Altona — a congregation of Mennonite Church Manitoba of Mennonite Church Canada. 

Josh previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Religion and Biology from Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas. He is married to Stephanie Janzen.

“AMBS pushed me, shaped me and challenged me as I grew deeper in my relationship with God and my relationships with others,” Josh reflected. “I came to AMBS straight from college; AMBS is the place where I grew up.”

Danae King

Danae King of Orrville, Ohio, graduated from AMBS in May 2021 with a Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies. Danae, who completed part of her seminary coursework at a distance, previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Social Studies from Bluffton (Ohio) University. She is exploring options for work in, or in service of, the church.

Danae’s home congregation is Orrville Mennonite Church, a congregation of the Ohio Conference of Mennonite Church USA. Her mother is Judy King of Dalton, Ohio.

Amy Amanda Chupp Kratzer

Amy Amanda Chupp Kratzer of Goshen, Indiana, graduated from AMBS in May 2021 with a Master of Arts in Christian Formation. She also was selected to receive an Award for Excellence in Christian Formation from the seminary’s Church and Ministry Department. 

Amy is concluding 18 years of service on the pastoral team of Sunnyside Mennonite Church in Elkhart, Indiana — a congregation of Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA — and plans to teach music in Goshen Community Schools. She previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Goshen (Indiana) College. She is married to Amos Kratzer, and they have four children.

“I completed my seminary studies alongside pastoring,” Amy reflected. “While it has taken me 16 years (!) to earn my degree, it has been a fruitful way to learn. My work as a pastor has energized my studies, and my studies have invigorated my pastoral ministry. I have been blessed by many friendships and the loving support of many professors through the years. I never lived in AMBS housing, but when I step onto campus, it feels like a spiritual home; it is part of me forever.”

Henok T. Mekonin

Henok T. Mekonin of Nazreth, Oromiya region, Ethiopia, graduated from AMBS in May 2021 with a Master of Arts: Theology and Peace Studies. He also was selected to receive an Award for Excellence in Global Anabaptist Education Outreach.

Henok previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Christian Ministry from Meserete Kristos (Ethiopian Mennonite Church) Seminary, Debre Zeit, Oromiya region, Ethiopia. He looks forward to continuing to live in Elkhart and to work as AMBS’s assistant for the Master of Arts: Theology and Global Anabaptism (MATGA) cohort program offered through AMBS’s partnership with Meserete Kristos Seminary.

Henok’s home congregation is Nazreth Western Meserete Kristos, which is part of the Nazreth Regional Office. He is married to Misgana Eshete; they have one child and are expecting another this summer. He is the son of Gete Bayu of Nazreth.

Henok recalled discerning his next steps when he was living in Ethiopia and had been studying theology at Meserete Kristos College, now Seminary, for three and half years. 

“I was looking for the school in the world where I could bring together my commitment to peacebuilding and justice-seeking with theological insight,” he said. “I did an exhaustive search of the schools in the world, and I found that AMBS was doing what I wanted to be doing. In short, the past almost three years of my time at seminary have been a time of academic and spiritual formation that helps me to continue to grow and develop a capacity to resist the social constructs that divide God’s people and foster hostility.”

Andrew L. Oliver

Andrew L. Oliver of Vancouver, Washington, graduated from AMBS in May 2021 with a Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies. Andy, who completed his coursework at a distance, serves half time on the pastoral team of Portland (Oregon) First United Methodist Church, a congregation of the Columbia District of the Oregon-Idaho Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC). He wants to continue to explore anti-racism work by reaching out to White Christian Nationalists in his community.

Andy previously earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminology from Florida State University in Tallahassee and a Master of Divinity from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. As a UMC elder, he is a member of the Crest to Coast Missional District of the denomination’s Pacific Northwest Conference. He is married to Jodi Oliver, and they have two children. His parents are William Hoyt Oliver of Black Mountain, North Carolina, and Ann Gaylia O’Barr of Langley, Washington.

“AMBS has opened up a world for me as to what the Christian faith means in the 21st century,” reflected Andy. “In the area of peace studies, I have been introduced to theological frameworks I did not know existed. Additionally, my ability to minister in places of hurt and violation has been strengthened through immersion in deep exploration of themes of forgiveness and reconciliation.  What I have from AMBS is an orientation as to how I might approach learning and leadership for the next several years.”

Catherine G. Stoner

Catherine G. Stoner of South Bend, Indiana, graduated from AMBS in May 2021 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Christian Faith Formation. She previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts from Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She is currently working as a Recovery Coach for Oaklawn Psychiatric Center in South Bend.

Cathy’s home congregation is Kern Road Mennonite Church in South Bend, Indiana, a congregation of Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA. She has four children, and her parents are John (BDiv 1967, MDiv 1997) and Janet Stoner of Akron, Pennsylvania.

“My fellow students and the faculty at AMBS have been for me a community of nurture and challenge during my studies here,” reflected Cathy. “They have modeled for me faithful discipleship and commitment to justice and creation care. Their scholarship and practical involvements have continually pointed me to the gospel message of hope. I am grateful for the privilege of studying among so many forward-thinking Jesus followers. The trajectory I have observed encourages me that AMBS will keep turning out thoughtful and dedicated leaders in years to come.”

Luis Marcos Tapia Rubio

Luis Marcos Tapia Rubio of Valparaiso, Chile, graduated from AMBS in May 2021 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Theological Studies: History, Theology and Ethics. He also was selected to receive an Award for Excellence in Theological Studies from the seminary’s History, Theology and Ethics Department. He plans to pursue a career in teaching.

Luis previously earned a Master in Philosophy from the University of Chile in Santiago de Chile; a Bachelor in Theology from Baptist Theological Seminary in Santiago de Chile; and a Bachelor in Education and a Bachelor in Philosophy from Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso, Chile. While at AMBS, he has attended College Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana, a congregation of Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA. His mother is Maria Teresa Rubio of Valparaiso.

“At AMBS, I had a good experience learning Anabaptist theology and contemporary theology,” Luis reflected. “I was also able to confirm my teaching call.”

Matthew W. Troyer-Miller

Matthew W. Troyer-Miller of Shickley, Nebraska, graduated from AMBS in May 2021 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Pastoral Ministry. Matt, who completed part of his degree at a distance through AMBS’s MDiv Connect program, plans to continue pastoring at Wood River (Nebraska) Mennonite Church, a congregation of Central Plains Mennonite Conference (CPMC) of Mennonite Church USA. His home congregation is Salem Mennonite Church in Shickley, also a CPMC congregation.

Matt previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies from Goshen (Indiana) College and an Associate of Arts from Hesston (Kansas) College. He is married to Elizabeth Troyer-Miller, and they have three children. His father is the late Dennis Troyer of Shickley, and his mother and stepfather are Mary (Troyer) Garman and Leroy Garman of Shickley. 

“Through the AMBS Connect program, I was able to build meaningful relationships with my professors and my fellow students,” Matt reflected. “It was very helpful to study at AMBS while pastoring, as these relationships and my theological studies improved my pastoral abilities.”

Henry (Hank) Duvanel Unruh

Henry (Hank) Duvanel Unruh of Newton, Kansas, participated in AMBS’s May 1 commencement service. He anticipates graduating in August 2021 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Pastoral Ministry. Hank, who completed part of his degree at a distance through AMBS’s MDiv Connect program, is pursuing a pastoral ministry assignment. He is currently the Youth Pastor at First Mennonite Church of Hillsboro (Kansas), a congregation of Western District Conference (WDC) of Mennonite Church USA. He grew up attending Zion Mennonite Church in Elbing, Kansas, also a WDC congregation. 

Hank previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Religion and Communications from Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas. He is married to Erin Unruh, and his parents are Mark and Tammy Unruh of Newton.

“I am greatly appreciative of AMBS and its MDiv Connect program,” reflected Hank. “I was able to begin and complete my MDiv at a distance while continuing my work as a youth pastor. The classes at AMBS were challenging, engaging and fun.”

Michael Unruh

Michael Unruh graduated from AMBS in May 2021 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Christian Faith Formation. Michael, whose home communities are Wichita, Newton and North Newton, Kansas, completed part of his degree at a distance through AMBS’s MDiv Connect program. He plans to continue serving as Campus Pastor at Bethel College in North Newton.

Michael previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Bethel College. His home congregation is Tabor Mennonite Church in Goessel, Kansas, a congregation of Western District Conference of Mennonite Church USA. He is married to Lina Unruh, and they have one child.

“After beginning the MDiv Campus program in 2015 and then moving back to Kansas in 2016, the MDiv Connect program is the only way I could have completed my Master of Divinity degree,” Michael reflected. “Though distance learning has its challenges compared to in-person classes, AMBS has continued seeking to improve the experience for students who are not able to pack up and move to Elkhart. And many MDiv Connect students are already serving in a ministry setting in some capacity. This contributes to a rich learning environment as students bring those experiences into their coursework and process ways to apply newfound knowledge to their ministry contexts.”

Amy Lynn Whitehead

Amy Lynn Whitehead of Elkhart, Indiana, graduated from AMBS in May 2021 with a Master of Divinity with a major in Chaplaincy. 

She plans to continue working full time in social work at Lifeline Youth and Family Services in Elkhart, a faith-based organization where she has served for six years. She also will pursue her next three units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), with the goal of becoming board certified, and plans to spend the next year focusing on activities she enjoys such as travel, hiking and photography.

Amy previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation Administration from Bethel University in Mishawaka, Indiana. Her home congregation is River Oaks Community Church in Elkhart, a multicultural church plant that is part of the Evangelical Free Church of America. Her parents are Alan and Jeanette (Frey) Whitehead of Elkhart.

“AMBS gave me an opportunity to learn different perspectives on a variety of topics,” Amy reflected. “I am grateful for the professors who invested time in me personally, spiritually and intellectually. I am coming away with some solid friendships and excitement to move forward into what God has planned next.”

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