Eastern Mennonite Seminary students present capstone projects that touch on both the personal formation experienced within the students’ seminary journey, and the transformation they hope to bring about as leaders in ministry. The capstone requirement helps seminarians synthesize and integrate into their unique ministry setting the four guiding curricular principles that have formed the rich foundation of their learning: wise interpretation, mature practice, discerning communication and transformational leadership.
“A culmination of their education, their capstone project is a reflection of their learning, a practical resource to carry with them into ministry, and often an exciting expression of creativity,” says seminary dean Michael A. King.
Seminary degrees will be celebrated and conferred Saturday, April 29, 2017.
Dale Humphries: The Quest for Story [podcast]
(BA, Eastern Mennonite University; Waynesboro, Va.) My project ultimately seeks to provide a means of doing small group ministry and transformational storytelling, in a way that opens the door to both churched and unchurched individuals, as well as providing a medium across which variance can be bridged appropriately without requiring participants to abandon their convictions in order to facilitate conversation. By communicating indirectly with the game and story as mediums, we engage in conversation around diverse and often difficult topics, with individuals who influence the narrative being told around the issue, with their own experiences and stories coming alongside our own in a quest for understanding, empathy, and truth encapsulated through the power of story.
Jake Kave: Evangelism in a Plural Society [podcast]
(BS, MEd., James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.) This project demonstrates the need to evangelize across cultural and religious boundaries. In our plural environments, where we experience interactions daily with individuals who are from different cultural and religious backgrounds, we need to see the need to spread the good news to all people. In order to do so, we must know our convictions, listen to the other individual in order to understand their background, and relate the good news of Jesus to them in a way that relates to where they are from.
Carlos Madrid: Cross-Cultural Church Planting Model Outreach in North America [podcast]
(Certificate of Ministry Leadership, Eastern Mennonite Seminary; Grottoes, Va.) This research challenges the local denominational and non-denominational leadership and their congregations to think cross-cultural outreach to the unchurched, especially to those from the ethnic minorities, in a non-traditional way, encouraging them to embrace local mission outreach in their local communities, therefore, complying with the great commission.
Julie Nitzsche: Becoming an Intergenerational Community of Faith [podcast]
(BSN, University of Virginia; Stanardsville, Va.) This project seeks to help church leaders understand ways that an intentional intergenerational community of faith can help form young disciples of Jesus Christ. The project demonstrates possibilities for church leaders to incorporate as they begin making the shift to an intergenerational culture within their faith community and the potential benefits of doing so.
Sarah Payne: The Painful Process of Hope [podcast]
(BA, Milligan College; Staunton, Va.) I believe that the concept and practice of hope within Western culture is often flimsy and misdirected; such that even within the church, what is often named as hope is little more than a thin veneer over deep, unresolved pain. Through my experience of infertility, I examine the interconnectedness between struggle and pain and the practices of hope unique to Christian community, specifically through the engagement of prayer beads.
Stephen Wilcox: Do We Need Church? [podcast]
(BS, Eastern Mennonite University; Harrisonburg, Va.) During the course of my life I have encountered those, who for a variety of reasons decide that they don’t need church to follow Christ. As one who has always felt deeply committed to the church and Christ I have often struggled with this response. So I have taken this capstone opportunity to engage scripture and others thoughts around this topic.
Andrea Yoder: Why Did You Come and Why Have You Stayed? Examining the role and efficacy of seminary training in light of the current, broad ‘church climate.’ [podcast]
(BA, Eastern Mennonite University; Harrisonburg, Va.) This project seeks to discover why broad seminary enrollment is declining by asking current seminary students why they chose to attend seminary and why they have continued their studies. I have also asked students and faculty about their perceptions of the needs of the church and ways they believe seminary training prepares ministers to address those needs. By asking these questions, I have explored the current strengths and weaknesses of seminary training at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. I hope my conclusions will offer possibilities for adaptive solutions to the question of decline in seminary enrollment at Eastern Mennonite Seminary and offer insights that may be applicable elsewhere as well.