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Kenton Derstine


POSITION: Assoc Prof of Sprvd Ministry and Dir of CPE & Mentored Ministry

LOCATION: Main Campus, Harrisonburg | SB 136

PHONE: (540) 432-4565

EMAIL: derstine@emu.edu

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.


BA, Eastern Mennonite University
MDIV, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary
DMIN, Wesley Theological Seminary

Scholarly Presentations and Abstracts

October 7, 2016, The 2nd Annual Conference on Bowen Theory and Its Applications: Emotional Process in Relationship Systems, Workshop: “Emotional Process in Faith Communities.”

September 24-25, 2016, Richmond Mennonite Church – Annual Retreat, Williamsburg Retreat Center. Retreat Speaker: (four presentations and sermon) Theme: Growing Up Into Christ: Bringing Your Best to All.”

June 18, 2016, Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship: Annual Gathering. Estes Park, CO Workshop: “The Imact of Death And Dying, Perspectives from Theology, Research and Family Systems.”

April 16, 2016. The Spring Meeting of The Bowen Center: Theme: “The Impact of Death and Dying: Perspectives from Evolution, Resilience and Family Systems.” George Mason University, Presentation: The Impact of Illness and Death: One Family Story

February 18, 2016, Extraordinary Leadership Seminar, Roslyn Retreat Center, Richmond, VA. Presentation: “Case Studies of Leadership in Anxious Environments.”

January 28, 2016, EMS Chapel presentation, “Start Close In,”

September 21, 2015 – Seminar on Supervision, Mid-Atlantic Region of ACPE, Roslyn Retreat Center, Richmond, VA. Workshop: “Applications of Bowen Theory to a CPE Curriculum.”

August 4, 2015 Conference: Bowen Theory Around the World: First International Conference on Bowen Family Systems Theory, Western Pennsylvania Family Center, Pittsburgh, PA Workshop: “Applications of Bowen Family Systems Theory to the Educational Process of CPE.”

May 7, 2015 – Clergy Conference: Systems Thinking: Faith Communities and Leadership, The Bowen Center, Washington DC; Lecture: “Bowen Theory and Theology: Exploring the Connections.”

March 6-8, 2015, Mennonite Health Assembly, Cincinnati, Ohio. Workshop Presentation: “Ministering Toward a Vision”

February 11, 2015 – Extraordinary Leadership Seminar; lecture: “On the Formation and Function of Beliefs: Discerning the Spirits.”

December 10, 2014 Georgetown University Hospitals, Washington D.C. Presentation: “An Overview of Bowen Theory and Theological Presented an overview of Bowen Theory to Georgetown University Hospital CPE students and Chaplains

March 6-8, 2014, Mennonite Health Assembly, Kansas City, KS. Workshop Presentation: “The Poetics of Christian Formation and Calling”

January 20-22, 2014, EMS School for Leadership Training, Workshop: “Family Systems Theory as a Resource for Congregational Discernment.”

March 27, 2013 Presentation: “Ministry to Those Navigating the Life-Cycle Passage of Death.” Winchester Medical Center, Winchester, VA

March 12, 2013 EMS Chapel: The Poetics of Creation

January 22, 2013 EMS School for Leadership Training: Workshop: “The Family and the Brain: An Integrated Circuit”

January 8, 2013 Lecture: “On the Formation and Function of Beliefs, Extraordinary Leadership Seminary, Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA

=March 2, 2012 Formation For a Faithful Ministry: Theology and Theory Informing Ministry. “Mennonite Chaplains Association: Mennonite Health Assembly Annual Meeting,” Louisville, KY.

=November 30, 2011 Wisdom Care: Attending to the Openings In the Last Passage of Life. “Overflow: Revitalizing Pastors and Chaplains,” Garden Spot Village, New Holland, PA