During Eastern Mennonite Seminary’s 2018 School for Leadership Training, themed “Broken Vessels, Thriving Pastor,” participants will explore themes of thriving and succeeding in ministry even in the context of so much reason to lose heart. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

Seminary’s School for Leadership Training ‘Broken Vessels, Thriving Pastor’ slated for January

The ministry model of clay jars can take several twists: Are ministers cracked pots? Crackpots? Broken vessels? Is their work – to use another Biblical metaphor – but the sowing of grains of wheat that fall into the earth and die?

Proclaiming God incarnate even in brokenness – within themselves, in their congregations and neighborhoods, and nationally – is no small task for pastors. Eastern Mennonite Seminary’s 2018 School for Leadership Training (SLT) participants will explore themes of thriving and succeeding in ministry even in the context of so much reason to lose heart.

The Jan. 15-17 training “Broken Vessels, Thriving Pastor” will feature keynote speakers Iris de León-Hartshorn, The Reverend Meredith McNabb, and an alumni panel. Seminars will feature a Charlottesville, Virginia, pastor who confronted the “Unite the Right” rally in August, a personal leadership coach, and various EMS faculty.

“None of us is free from brokenness,” said Les Horning, director of seminary admissions and SLT coordinator. “And not one of our congregations and communities is exempt, either. The question is, ‘How can we recognize and act in the extraordinary power of God wherever and whoever we are?’”

In her keynote address “Bridges crossed, lessons learned: My journey in leadership,” Hartshorn will use her own life story as an invitation to face brokenness “as an integral aspect of finding one’s place as a leader.” Hartshorn is the director of transformative peacemaking for Mennonite Church USA and a leader in racial and gender justice in the church.

A panel of alumni will present the second keynote address, “Thriving and brokenness on the front lines.” It will feature reflections on the challenges and joys in ministry contexts ranging from rural western plains to urban streets. Panelists will include:

  • Brett Klingenberg, MDiv 2011, Pastor, First Mennonite Church, Beatrice, Nebraska
  • Carmen Horst, MDiv 2010, Associate Pastor, James Street Mennonite Church, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Nicholas Detweiler-Stoddard, MDiv 2010, Pastor, Salem Mennonite Church, Freeman, South Dakota
  • Lorie Hershey, MDiv 2005, Pastor, West Philly Mennonite Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

In the final keynote, McNabb – an ordained elder in the Virginia United Methodist Conference, the director of the Center for Clergy Excellence, and former Washington D.C.-area pastor and attorney working primarily with low-income victims of domestic violence – will use as a guiding image the motif of kintsugi, a Japanese method for repairing broken ceramics with a special lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. The technique is based on the philosophy of recognizing an object’s history and, instead of disguising it, incorporating the repair into the new piece.

Other events will include a pastor appreciation breakfast with EMU president Susan Schultz Huxman, facilitated conversation circles, a showing of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish’s film “I shall not hate: A journey of hope through faith, tolerance, and courage,” and worship.

Seminars include:

  • “Love Over Fear: Subverting evil in the way of Jesus” with Brittany Caine-Conley, director of University Ministry at Westminster Presbyterian Church and co-founder of Congregate Charlottesville [read more about her work here];
  • “When the Center Cannot Hold: Leadership in an age of polarization” with David Brubaker, associate professor in EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding;
  • “No Quick Fix for Brokenness in Self or in Others” with Kenton Derstine, EMS faculty;
  • “God’s Word and Ours: Praying the Psalms” with Andrea Saner, EMS faculty;
  • “Train Stations, Bike Trails and Bus Routes” with Walter Sawatzky, a life and work transition advisor and personal leadership coach;
  • “Pastoral Responses to Racism in Our Community and Congregation” with Iris de León-Hartshorn, director of Transformative Peacemaking, Mennonite Church – USA;
  • “Gleaning Resilience from the Good News, Both Then and Now” with Dorothy Jean Weaver, EMS faculty;
  • “Whatever You Do, Just Don’t Talk about THAT!” with Nancy Heisey, EMS associate dean; and
  • “Pastoring in the Landscape: Geological and ecological lessons” with Meredith McNabb, director of the Center for Clergy Excellence.

“We invite you to bring your stories of brokenness, and your stories of how you confronted brokenness,” Horning said. “Bring your jars of clay and your dying grains of wheat. Together we thrive.”

For more information, visit http://www.emu.edu/seminary/slt/, call 540-432-4698, or email slt@emu.edu.

Discussion on “Seminary’s School for Leadership Training ‘Broken Vessels, Thriving Pastor’ slated for January

  1. I just read about this seminar. As a previous United Methodist pastor who was raised under the tutelage of a Mennonite pastor and has struggled with my own demons of doubt which can hopefully be as Frederick Beuchner suggests “the ants in the pants of faith” I want to offer this book I just published as a possible resource for this or future seminars. Writing it was both a frightening and fruitful exercise of vulnerability.


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