POSITION: Faculty Emeritus/Seminary
School of Theology, Humanities and Performing Arts
LOCATION: Main Campus, Harrisonburg | SB 226
PHONE: (540) 432-4565
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 an ACPE Certified Educator. 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.
BA, Eastern Mennonite University (History)
MDIV, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (Divinity)
DMIN, Wesley Theological Seminary (Ministry)