Kevin holds a B.A. in Theology and Biblical Studies from Eastern Mennonite University, an MA in Church Leadership from Eastern Mennonite Seminary, with concentrations in Pastoral Counseling and Christian Spiritual Formation and a D.Min in Spiritual Direction through Graduate Theological Foundation, South Bend, IN.
Kevin is a pastor at heart, ordained by the Virginia Mennonite Conference in 1996 and was recently the pastor of Big Spring Mennonite Church, Luray VA from 1996 to 2004. He has 21 years pastoral experience, serving within several Christian denominations. Kevin has been an adjunct instructor at Eastern Mennonite Seminary (1996-present) in the area of Christian Spiritual Formation. He is a spiritual director, retreat leader and board member of Blue Ridge Ministries, Inc. an interdenominational retreat ministry located in the Shenandoah Valley.
Kevin has participated with Dorothy Jean Weaver in the on-going personal connections and involvement in the Israel/Palestine. This includes a Seminary study tour program “Places, People, & Prayers and a Middle East work group through the Virginia Mennonite Board of Missions, – Partners in Mission program.
How might someone be truly helpful to another as they face the humdrum or the crisis of their life’s journey? How is it that some of the most well-intentioned efforts at “help” turn out not to be helpful—even hurtful? How is it that a congregation of committed people can become so hurtful to each other? And, how is it that despite one’s best efforts one behaves in ways that seem abhorrent when observed in others? Exploring these and similar questions have challenged and energized Kenton’s journey as a member, pastor, chaplain, leader and pastoral educator—-and his students.
As Director of EMS’s Mentored Ministry programs Kenton is dedicated to an experiential learning process whereby participants have opportunity through a cycle of practice and reflection to explore their questions and convictions regarding what it means to minister as a follower of Jesus Christ. This learning process is informed by the conviction that learning is established when new insight informs new behaviors practiced again and again—when “practice” establishes a “practice.” My hope is that each student will be sufficiently challenged by some experience of ministry during their study at EMS that they will be thrust into new levels of theological reflection, self-examination and the experience of God’s love and grace.
Kenton is the eleventh of twelve children born to Abram and Ruth Derstine, life-long members of Souderton Mennonite church in Southeastern Pennsylvania. He graduated from Eastern Mennonite College—after a stint at the U. of Colorado. Active in the anti-Vietman War movement through much of his college years Kenton reneged on his acceptance into graduate school to study political science after spending a semester in Europe studying Anabaptist origins. He came to share the conviction of these spiritual forebears that the meaning of history and societal transformation lay more in the church than in political processes. Therefore, he entered the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and with his wife joined the Fellowship of Hope Church and Community in Elkhart, IN. Commitment to the church as “community,” as a “demonstration plot” of the Kingdom of God has energized and focused his teaching and has been a point of connection with current emergent forms of the church.
Following graduating seminary Kenton entered Clinical Pastoral Education and served Chaplain Internships and Residencies in three different hospitals, eventually gaining certification as a CPE Supervisor. Included in his experience was his service as chaplain on the Critical Care units of Methodist Hospital of Indiana, home of the treatment team for drivers injured on the IndyCar racing circuit. Kenton came to EMS after serving for seven years as CPE Supervisor and CPE Program Manager at St. Vincent Hospitals, Indianapolis. Kenton and Rhoda are the parents of three adult children. Kenton has been a beekeeper for over forty years and is intrigued by the message that the world-wide die-off of honeybees has posed to modern life.
In addition to his teaching role, David serves the seminary community as Director of Cross Cultural Programs.
David has worked in various ministry contexts. While living in Washington, DC, David was the Junior/Senior High Director of an out-of-school time program on Capitol Hill. Later he served as Community Development Resource coordinator with MCC East Coast. Most recently he was co-pastor of Boonton United Methodist Church in New Jersey. In concert with his teaching and scholarship, David practices a local “eco-lutionary” lifestyle that promotes a sustainable future for the diverse people of the Shenandoah Valley Watershed.
Nancy has worked as a teacher and an administrator first at Mennonite Central Committee and since 1999 at EMU. Her lifelong professional and churchly involvement with Mennonites and Brethren in Christ around the world, and her research interests in early Christianity, shape her reading and research into approaches to biblical interpretation. She enjoys singing, listening to birds, and long slow walks.
Growing up in a non-Christian home within a racist community, being encountered by Christ in a Baptist revival toward the end of high school, and being pastored by a WWII veteran—these would not seem to be the ingredients to produce a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. But then the gospel of Jesus Christ is not predictable. It changes lives! In Mark’s case, a radical conversion followed by reading the New Testament and hearing many sermons about God’s love for the whole world convinced Mark that following Jesus included not killing one’s enemies.
Several years later Mark discovered Christians within various traditions who, with Mark, saw peace and social justice as inherent in the gospel of Jesus Christ. But it was through reading The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder that Mark began to find a theological home in the Anabaptist/ Mennonite tradition. Mark’s subsequent studies with Yoder, followed by doctoral studies under Jim McClendon and Nancey Murphy, along with a co-editing friendship with Stanley Hauerwas deepened Mark’s commitment to the centrality of Jesus for ministries of peace and justice, and led to the integration of theology and ethics that infuse his teaching and writing.
Mark’s voracious reading in multiple disciplines is animated by his passion to help the church remain faithful to Christ. His current writing project with two former seminary students is focused on recapturing Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s commitment to the centrality of Jesus Christ linked to faithful discipleship as the defining center of his life and work.
Mark’s teaching at the seminary draws on his experiences within several early “emergent/new monastic” Christian communities, his brief stint as a child protective services social worker, his six years as the founding director of an ecumenical peace and justice organization, his pastorates in several denominations, and his 5 ½ years as director of the London Mennonite Centre, in London, England. He is currently on the leadership team of a Mennonite church organically connected to Our Community Place, a center devoted to serving the “least among us” in Harrisonburg. His preaching and teaching in that community coupled with his attentiveness to the vast needs and challenges within our larger cultural contexts serve to ground his life and teaching in the transforming work of Christ in the world through the church.
Acknowledged as one of the foremost authorities in the world on John Howard Yoder, Mark’s interests are wide ranging. However, in a few words, his driving passion is to discern with others what it means to articulate afresh the holistic gospel of Jesus Christ for today or, in other words, to ask what it looks like to embody “the politics of Jesus” for our time.
Andrea’s research stands within and contributes to the broadly ecumenical movement, theological interpretation of scripture. Her work particularly focuses on testing and demonstrating the continuing significance of early Christian interpretation for modern reading. Andrea is currently writing the Exodus volume for the T&T Clark International Theological Commentary.
To live life at the call of God is to encounter ongoing surprises, unexpected delights, and God’s robust sense of humor. Dorothy Jean Weaver always knew that she would grow up to be a teacher. But she could never have imagined the life she now lives.
Years ago Dorothy Jean discovered, unexpectedly, a deep passion for studying the New Testament and a life vocation of opening the Scriptures for and with others in the seminary classroom and beyond. This calling eventually drew Dorothy Jean into New Testament Studies at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, where she earned a PhD in 1987.
Since 1984 Dorothy Jean has been teaching New Testament at EMS. Her courses include Elementary Greek, Greek Readings, New Testament: Text in Context, and book studies across the New Testament canon. She anchors inter-disciplinary courses, “Women and Men in Scripture and Church” and “Creation Care in Scripture and Church.” In the academic world she has served as Co-Chair of the Society of Biblical Literature Matthew Section. And she has published The Irony of Power: The Politics of God within Matthew’s Narrative (Pickwick, 2017), Matthew’s Missionary Discourse: A Literary Critical Analysis (Sheffield, 1990; Bloomsbury, 2015), and numerous academic essays.
But there were still more surprises. Following a sabbatical at Tantur Ecumenical Institute, across the valley from Bethlehem, Dorothy Jean discovered a sturdy new sense of vocation, namely to introduce North American Christians to Israel/Palestine through study tours and work groups. Since 1998 Dorothy Jean has led or co-led 18 tours and counting through EMS (“Places, People, & Prayers” and “Jerusalem Seminar”) and Virginia Mennonite Missions (“Nazareth/Bethlehem Work Group”). And Dorothy Jean has taught and/or lectured in Beirut, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Cairo, and Debre Zeit, Ethiopia.
“It’s been the ride of a lifetime,” Dorothy Jean notes. “I could never have planned such a life on my own. The call of God is simply astonishing. And God’s sense of humor never ceases to amaze.”
The church and seminary face a dizzying array of challenges and opportunities as we live into the 21st century. Dr. Lonnie Yoder is passionate about preparing leaders who are responding to their unique callings in life. He especially enjoys mentoring and counseling younger leaders who are discovering ways to share their gifts with both church and society. He is intrigued by the challenges of revisioning theological education, including the development of new delivery systems such as distance learning and hybrid courses.
Lonnie is excited about investing in the church in both its traditional and emergent forms. One practical expression of this commitment is his role as a consultant to over a dozen area congregations and pastors, four of which represent varying emergent forms of congregational life. He is also committed to cultivating a truly diverse church in which all of those who represent the rich diversity of our human community are given voice and place in Christian communities around the globe. Involvements in Jamaica, Trinidad, Haiti, Colombia, and other locations have both inspired and challenged Lonnie. Finally, Lonnie is committed to a lifelong journey of discovering the ordinary, but powerful, ways in which we care for one another in the church and beyond. Of special interest is the various ways in which technology can serve us as we strengthen our care and our communities.
A native of rural southeast Iowa, Lonnie served as youth minister and assistant pastor in his home congregation, East Union Mennonite Church, for twelve years before engaging doctoral studies in Religion and Personality at the University of Iowa. Married to Teresa Boshart, stewardship consultant for Everence, father to two young adult daughters, and grandfather of two, Lonnie enjoys family time, sports, genealogy, and gardening. A professor at Eastern Mennonite since 1991, from 2010-2016 he carried the role of associate dean at the seminary while continuing to teach in the areas of pastoral care/counseling and leadership.
Les comes to his work at EMU/EMS as a double alumnus. He graduated with a BS in Biology and Chemistry in 1986. After obtaining an MS in Polymer Science from Virginia Tech, he worked as a research chemist in Carlisle, PA for five years before returning to the Shenandoah Valley to begin studies at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. After receiving an MDiv in 1998, Les and his family sojourned in Richmond, VA where Les engaged in additional studies in Hebrew Bible at Union Theological Seminary, and served as interim pastor of First Mennonite Church of Richmond.
In 2005, Les and his family moved to Christiansburg, VA where he served as pastor of Christiansburg Mennonite Fellowship for seven years before returning to the Shenandoah Valley once again in 2012 to accept a position with EMU/EMS.
Les enjoys gardening, listening, driving his 30 year old pickup truck, and collecting reasons why he loves to work where he works.