Published: November 27, 2013
Mary E. Klassen
Three Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary retired professors, Marlene Kropf, Walter Sawatsky and June Alliman Yoder, were honored with emeritus status by the AMBS board at their late October meetings.
These professors each served AMBS for more than two decades and also carried significant roles in teaching and administration in the church. The emeritus status honors these contributions and gives the professors a life-long link to the seminary.
“Thanks be to God for the long-term teaching ministries of Marlene, Walter and June,” Sara Wenger Shenk, AMBS president, said. “They served God’s reconciling mission in exemplary ways by helping to form a generation of leaders for the church in North America and Europe. May God richly bless each of them as they continue to share their seasoned gifts of wisdom in circles of learning, including AMBS.”
Kropf was associate professor in spiritual formation and worship for 25 years, retiring in 2011. She shaped the spiritual formation curriculum of AMBS and taught spiritual direction seminars for many who were not regular students. She combined this teaching with leading workshops and retreats and developing worship resources for congregations in Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA. Her Doctor of Ministry project resulted in the book Singing: A Mennonite Voice (Herald Press, 2001), which she coauthored with Ken Nafziger. In addition, she and colleagues Rebecca Slough and Yoder wove together their teaching of worship and preaching in the book Preparing Sunday Dinner: A collaborative approach to worship and preaching (Herald Press, 2006).
Sawatsky was professor of church history and mission and director of the Mission Studies Center. He joined the faculty in 1990 and retired in 2012, although he continues to teach individual courses and counsel students. Sawatsky combined AMBS teaching with teaching assignments in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and he held consulting roles with Mennonite Central Committee in Eastern Europe. He was administrator for a 31-volume Bible commentary series translated into Russian. In addition, Sawatsky was a member of the organizing committee that led the creation of the five-volume Global Mennonite History, and he edited Mission Focus: Annual Review for nearly 20 years.
Yoder, who retired in 2009, taught preaching at AMBS for 27 years. She also taught the Preaching Institute and preached and led seminars across Canada and the U.S. Her dissertation for her Doctor of Ministry degree from Bethany Theological Seminary in 1991 focused on the role of the Holy Spirit in preaching. Yoder’s work with the Foundations of Worship and Preaching course at AMBS, cotaught with Kropf and Mary Oyer—later Rebecca Slough, led to the book Preparing Sunday Dinner: A collaborative approach to worship and preaching (Herald Press 2006). In addition to teaching, Yoder has served in pastoral roles, most often with her own congregation, College Mennonite, in Goshen, Ind.
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