Wenger Shenk reappointed for third term as AMBS president

Published: May 30, 2017

ELKHART, Indiana (Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) — The Board of Directors of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS), Elkhart, Indiana; Mennonite Education Agency (MEA); and the Mennonite Church Canada General Board are pleased to announce the reappointment of Sara Wenger Shenk, Ed.D., as president of AMBS for a third four-year term, beginning July 1, 2018.

A Presidential Review Committee formed by the AMBS Board and chaired by board member Miriam F. Book of Harleysville, Pennsylvania, recommended Wenger Shenk’s reappointment. According to AMBS Board Chair Bruce Baergen of Edmonton, Alberta, the committee’s extensive review process included surveying members of AMBS’s constituency in the U.S. and Canada as well as on-campus stakeholders. After the committee presented an overwhelmingly positive review to the AMBS board during its May 4–6 meeting at AMBS, he said, the board gratefully and joyfully approved reappointment and extended the invitation to Wenger Shenk.

“Sara’s leadership during her first two terms has been exemplary,” said Baergen. “She has helped to enable faculty and staff to work well together and continues to inspire great work by those around her. The seminary and larger church have been gifted with a truly remarkable leader, and we look forward to continuing that work together.”

Book said that as chair of the Review Committee, she felt joy and gratitude for the “clear and unambiguous affirmation” she heard for Wenger Shenk’s leadership of AMBS.

“She has earned high trust and respect across the campus and the church in both the U.S. and Canada,” Book reflected. “Dr. Wenger Shenk articulates a convincing vision for theological education both internally on the campus and externally in Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada, and among other religious traditions. The clear and direct way President Sara led in addressing unfinished issues with John Howard Yoder were acclaimed by other denominations as a model for offering healing to individuals and organizations.”

Book added that Wenger Shenk also received affirmation for her strong communication skills and occasional Practicing Reconciliation blog posts.

Wenger Shenk said she was “surprised and humbled” by the renewed invitation to serve AMBS’s mission.

“I love this work; the spiritually mature learning community that is AMBS; and the ways in which we partner with wonderful people throughout Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA to provide biblical, theological grounding for the whole church during this fractious time, and to educate leaders for God’s reconciling mission in the world,” she said.

Wenger Shenk joined AMBS as president in the fall of 2010, bringing experience in mission, church planting, teaching and administration. She had been a member of the faculty and administration of Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Harrisonburg, Virginia, for 15 years. For nine years, she and her husband, Gerald Shenk, served as students and teachers in the former Yugoslavia (1977–1983, 1986–1989). Wenger Shenk earned a B.A. from Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg; an MTS from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois; and an Ed.D. from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. She has held conference and denominational leadership roles in the Mennonite Church and has written in both academic and church publications. At AMBS, Wenger Shenk has overseen a “pivot of hope” program redesign, the hiring of seven new faculty and a change of the seminary’s name.

In addition to Book, the Presidential Review Committee included board members Ervin Bontrager of Goshen, Indiana; Yvonne Diaz of Alpine, Texas; and Gerda Krause of Vancouver, British Columbia; an AMBS faculty representative, Loren Johns, professor of New Testament; an AMBS student representative, Corben Boshart (Master of Arts: Theological Studies 2017) of Parnell, Iowa; and MEA Executive Director Carlos Romero (ex officio). Book expressed gratitude for the many persons across the campus community and the church who responded to the survey.

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