Sara Wenger Shenk named president of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Dr. Sara Wenger Shenk

Sara Wenger Shenk, associate dean of Eastern Mennonite Seminary (EMS) in Harrisonburg, Va., has been named president of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS), Elkhart, Ind.

Dr. Shenk, who is also associate professor of Christian practice at EMS, will begin her new assignment on or before Oct. 1, 2010. The AMBS board made the appointment at its Oct. 22-24 meetings in Elkhart.

Wenger Shenk has been a member of the faculty and administration of EMS since 1995. In addition to serving as associate dean, she is also associate professor of Christian practices.

University responds

“We are pleased that, once again, the Mennonite Church has recognized the gifts of a member of our EMU community and has called her to important leadership in the broader denomination,” said Fred Kniss, Eastern Mennonite University provost. “At the same time, we recognize this as a significant loss to EMU, especially to our seminary.

“Sara has worked with EMS dean Ervin R. Stutzman to provide skilled innovative leadership during a period of significant program growth,” Dr. Kniss said. “Her care and wisdom in relating to faculty and students will also help to make her an excellent president for AMBS,” he added.

“Although this is a major loss to the EMU community, it is obvious to me why Sara would have been on the AMBS search committee’s radar from the beginning,” said EMU President Loren Swartzendruber. “She is gifted and prepared to take on this significant role in the life of the church, and I have pledged my support in the transition and beyond. Please join me in congratulating her.”

As announced earlier, Wenger Shenk will serve as interim dean of Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Jan. 1 – June 30, 2010, before assuming her new role at AMBS. Ervin R. Stutzman, EMU vice president and EMS dean since 1998, will become executive secretary of Mennonite Church USA in early 2010.

Randall Jacobs, Goshen, Ind., chair of the presidential search committee and new chair of the AMBS board, said. “Wenger Shenk represents a unique combination of gifts and experiences, including teaching and administration in theological education, cross-cultural ministry, church planting, and writing for both scholarly and popular audiences. More importantly, she is grounded in Jesus, deeply respectful of the church and passionate about Anabaptist theological education.”

More about Sara Wenger Shenk

Wenger Shenk earned a BA degree from Eastern Mennonite University, studied at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Calif.; completed an MA degree in 1986 at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Ill.; and received an EdD degree from Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education, Richmond, Va., in 1999. Her dissertation was titled, “Toward An Anabaptist Educational Theory.”

She has written a broad range articles, chapters and books, including “Thank You for Asking: Conversing with Young Adults about the Future Church” (Herald Press, 2005), “Anabaptist Ways of Knowing: A Conversation about Tradition-Based Critical Education” (Cascadia, 2003), Coming Home: A Thoughtful Resource for Fathers, Mothers, and the Rebirth of the Family (Good Books, 1992) and Why Not Celebrate! (Good Books, 1987).

Wenger Shenk has been a “Real Families” columnist for The Mennonite magazine and a contributor to Mennonite Quarterly Review, Leader Magazine, Vision and Sojourners.

Wenger Shenk believes that worship, our “primary theology,” sustains and grounds all aspects of theological education. One evidence of this is the leadership she and her spouse, N. Gerald Shenk, have given over the last three years to The Table, an emerging Mennonite congregation in Harrisonburg, Va. He is professor of church and society at EMS.

In addition, Wenger Shenk serves as the Virginia Mennonite Conference representative to the Constituency Leaders Council of Mennonite Church USA and has recently joined the MC-USA bi national worship council. From 1993-2001, she was member-at-large for the Faith and Life Commission of Virginia Mennonite Conference.

From 1977-1983 and again from 1986-1989, Gerald and Sara served on a study-service appointment with Eastern Mennonite Missions and Mennonite Central Committee in the former Yugoslavia. While there, she studied Croatian language at the University of Zagreb.

As president, Wenger Shenk will join the AMBS administrative cabinet. Dr. George R. Brunk III currently is serving as interim president and will continue until Wenger Shenk begins her new role. J. Nelson Kraybill was AMBS president from 1997 through July 2009.

AMBS is a seminary of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.