Wilderness lovers, sustainability advocates, farmers, writers, educators and seminarians – Todd Wynward’s message, shared during a series of events from Oct. 1-7 at Eastern Mennonite University, will appeal to anyone striving to live intentionally, lightly and joyfully on this earth.
Wynward, who lives in Taos, New Mexico, is author of Rewilding the Way: Break Free to Follow an Untamed God (Herald Press, 2015), in which he defines a new kind of follower of Jesus: “a little more earth-honoring, empire-resisting, despair-erasing, and culture-changing…”
Watershed discipleship, he writes in a bite-size autobiographical WeAreMenno blog post is “a deeply place-based way of life encouraging us to adapt our needs to a finite planet, rather than forcing the planet to adapt to our infinite needs.”
Wynward has been engaged in education reform and social change movements for 20 years. He and his wife Peg are now creating TiLT, an incubator for intentional living in Taos, New Mexico.
While in Harrisonburg, he’ll also visit the New Community Project, a community organization that “promotes peace through justice, care for creation, and experiential learning.
“Todd brings vision and experience in integrating faith, ethics and life-style in ways that inspire and energize,” says Brian Martin Burkholder, campus pastor and director of campus ministries. “There is so much about Todd Wynward that resonates with EMU: his emphasis on sustainable living, intentional community, being in meaningful relationship with others and with all of Creation. Yet he challenges those of us with a ‘tamed’ Christian faith living comfortable lives in our affluent consumerist culture. He helps us to see and reclaim the wildness of following Jesus in our daily living.”
Wynward has been recently licensed as minister of watershed discipleship for the Mountain States Mennonite Conference. A convert to Anabaptism in 1998, he briefly describes his first meeting with Mennonites in his blog: “When I encountered a pocket of inspiring Mennonites doing their broken best to practice the Jesus Way in the neighborhoods of Albuquerque, I was hooked. I wanted to be one of them.”
Friday, Oct. 2
10-10:30 a.m. “Rewilding the Way: Break Free to Follow an Untamed God” at University Chapel in Lehman Auditorium. Wynward asks: “Could it be that time in untamed places, unshackled from the comforts and constraints of dominant culture, is a necessary prerequisite to becoming the people God has always yearned for us to become?”
4-5 p.m. “The Climate’s Changing… So Why Aren’t We?” Suter Science Lecture in the Suter Science Center. North American Christians remain blissfully inactive, happily addicted to the comforts of consumerism and baubles of technology. How has Christianity become so tame, and what can we do to break free? Wynward suggests learn to “walk the Watershed Way,” and help create a covenanted lifeway exploration movement that could revitalize Anabaptist communities across North America.
Tuesday, Oct. 6
11-11:45 a.m. “Embodying Enoughness: The Practice of Paul’s Autarkeia,” Martin Chapel, Seminary.
How did the Apostle Paul learn the secret of being content in any situation, whether surrounded by scarcity or abundance? Come discover more about the ancient Christian discipline of autarkeia—adaptive self-sufficiency in God.
Noon-1 p.m. “An Outsider’s Perspective on EMU’s Cross-Cultural Program as ‘Wilderness Experience’ for Modern Disciples,” in Northlawn West Dining Room. The prophet Jeremiah aches for a “way station in the wilderness,” a place where he can escape his own culture and rediscover his true self. To what extent does EMU’s cross cultural program serve as this kind of way station for its students? Could this role as culturally different transformational “wilderness space” become even more intentional? Join a veteran experiential educator in an inquiry into one of EMU’s most exceptional programs.
4-5 p.m. Book Signing sponsored by Herald Press and hosted by Language and Literature Dept. in the Campus Center (Strite Conference Room and Brunk-Maust Lounge). Refreshments provided.
9-10 p.m. “Reporting From the Front Lines: the Watershed Discipleship Movement” in Common Grounds Coffeehouse. What is watershed discipleship, and how is it percolating through Mennonite congregations in the United States? In the face of environmental and economic crises, is there a spiritual revival brewing that encourages a simple-living, earth-honoring, despair-crushing, Jesus-following Anabaptism?
Wednesday, Oct. 7
10-10:30 a.m. “The Anav Shall Inherit The Earth: Humility, Sustainability, Resiliency” at University Chapel in Lehman Auditorium. When Jesus said the meek shall inherit the earth, he was invoking the ancient character trait of anav, meekness. Anav doesn’t mean wimpy and powerless, but rather a lifeway that delights the Lord, marked by humility, sustainability, non-grasping, and resiliency. Could it be that the meek shall inherit the earth because only they are able to coexist and thrive within the blessings and boundaries of creation on its own terms, while the haughty and hoarding are unable?
4-5 p.m. “Serve and Lead in a Global Context? Be Honest: How Much Does a Changed Life Change the World?” in Common Grounds Coffeehouse. Derrick Jensen argues that personal changes do almost nothing to forward the massive systemic changes needed today. Todd Wynward suggests that systemic change often rises from a groundswell of collective lifestyle change. What do you think? Read a selected article ahead of time, then join the conversation.