School for Leadership Training Archive 

2023 Workshop Descriptions

Presenter: Amy Julia Becker

Title: Becoming a Culture of Belonging

Description: In this workshop, we will consider Erik Carter's Ten Dimensions of Belonging. This model will provide a framework for auditing the architecture, programming, and cultural norms within a congregation/community as it pertains to people with disabilities. After we assess the current situation, we will discuss possibilities for creating a culture of welcome and belonging within these communities. 


Presenter: Jeanne Davies

Title: Believing and Belonging: An Accessible Anabaptist Membership Curriculum

Description: Anabaptists practice believer’s baptism. We believe that every person should make their own choice about baptism and church membership. However, our membership curriculum is often inaccessible to people with intellectual disabilities. When people with intellectual disabilities have a desire to explore the possibility of membership, pastors, teachers, and parents scramble to adapt or create a curriculum that is accessible. Come explore the concept of baptism, church membership, what we need to know in order to make a choice, how we can know someone’s ability to choose, and what to do when the ability to choose is not clear. As a part of this workshop, we’ll share about ADNs new membership curriculum, Believing and Belonging.


Presenter: The Rev. JJ Flag

Title: A Table for Misfits

Description: This workshop will engage with the biblical text in a way that aids us in utilizing scripture to help us develop more inclusive and just models of ministry. 


Presenter: Courtney Joyner

Title: Are the Pearly Gates Handicap Accessible? Evaluating Your Facilities through Accessibility Audits

Description: This workshop will introduce Accessibility Audits as an intentional practice of hospitality to everyBODY. We will examine several tools and processes that, when utilized, can open your facilities and ministries to persons of all ability levels. From gathering the assessment team to prioritizing improvements to applying for grants, this workshop will walk you through the steps toward becoming accessible for the full Body of Christ. 


Presenter: LaDawn Knicely

Title: The Convergence of Spiritual Leadership & Serving Those with Mental Health Challenges

Description: This workshop will be a guiding lens to those in church leadership to become a vulnerable, self-reflective leader that will be empowered to meet and serve those struggling with mental health challenges. It is an invitation to converge and join in the uncomfortableness, the suffering, and the messiness of others. It is an appointed time to bring a message of hope, light, becoming, healing and belonging.


Presenter: Joy Kreider

Title: The Brain, Psychological Trauma and Caring for Survivors

Description: “Trauma occupies our sanctuaries, so says teacher and author Sarah Travis.  And Jesus said he came for the sick but often in the church we struggle to care for our most wounded members.  Considering how the brain is changed by profoundly threatening and/or harmful experiences helps us understand the complex emotional and spiritual changes that trauma survivors exhibit. Once traumatized, what happens to the survivor’s ability to express emotions or give voice to the suffering?  How do we wait with hope in the garden of someone else’s despair?  Is there hope for post traumatic growth, resilience and recovery?  What might trauma-sensitive preaching and ministering look like?  Participants are invited to offer their own observations and challenges in serving trauma survivors; and, take away a few pointers on how we might care more compassionately for survivors in our midst.


Moderator: Lana Miller 


Ashley Shoemaker, Community Outreach and Intake Specialist, Harrisonburg

Rockingham Community Services Board

Emily Bowman and Pam Miller, Director of Development, Pleasant View, Inc.

Karen Rowell, Attorney at Law, Clark & Bradshaw

Title: Caring for everyBody: Finances

Description: In this workshop we will consider finances and access to resources as we care for people with disabilities in our congregations and families. This seminar will have a panel of experts who will share about various resources and funding streams available to assist in caring for people with disabilities and also look specifically at financial management and how to protect the assets of those with special needs. Our hope is that pastors and others in the congregation would leave this workshop having a better understanding of how to assist families with this valuable information.


Presenter: Joyce Nussbaum 

Title: Caring for older Adults and their Caregivers

Description: The needs of older adults and their caregivers can be easily overlooked, even in faith communities. Learn how to provide resources and opportunities for care while respecting the need for dignity, respect and purpose for older adults and their families. Special attention will be given to understanding how to communicate with persons who are living with dementia.


Presenter: Heike Peckruhn Title: (Disability) Theology in Imagination and Action

Description: In this workshop, we will investigate common theological images from a disability perspective, and practice investigating and re-imagining our theologies (e.g. God, Jesus, Salvation, etc.). We will pay special attention on how theologies are lived in practice, and the difference a disability theology can and should make in our embodied communal life.


Presenters: Jesse Rodriguez and Kendal Swartzentruber

Title: Meeting human needs by overcoming myths

Description: Individuals with stigmatized identities and their participation in the church congregation often come with friction as a result of social myths surrounding those identities. Our experience working with youth, families, and educators in the disability realm and research around self-determination and motivation theory offers psychological needs that, when met, can allow all participants to live their full lives. In this discussion-based workshop, let’s imagine what it would take for all members of our communities to participate fully, and then let’s see what can be realized!


Presenter: Andrea Saner Title: "Blessed are those who have not seen": a Bible study of faith & abilities

Description: How do the abilities and limitations of our bodies relate to faith and to sharing faith with others? In this workshop, we will read scripture closely to examine relationships between gifts and limitations of physical senses and speech, on the one hand, and faith, on the other. We will discuss the narratives of the calls of Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah; of the resurrection appearances in John 20-21; and of Zechariah's and Paul's temporary disabilities (Luke 1 & Acts 9). Come to be inspired and to sharpen your questions about faith and the abilities and limitations of everyBody.


Presenter: Leah Thomas

Title: Job and Disability Theology: A Lens for Examining Communal Blame of People with Disabilities

Description: This workshop will examine the relationship between the book of Job and suffering, disability and communal blame. We will begin by exploring Rene Girard's proposal that Job functioned as a scapegoat for his community. We will also spend time investigating the role of the body in the Ancient Near East. Both of these reveal that the social construction of bodies within the Ancient Near East would have justified and condoned Job's exclusion from society, while confirming the guilt and blame that his community heaped upon him. This directly connects to the work of scholars who have focused on disability studies and disability theology, such as Nancy Eiesland and Sharon Betcher. Given these realities, this workshop will ask how focusing on Job's bodily suffering and disability informs the way(s) that we use this text in communal spaces, and the (conscious or unconscious) blame and/or scapegoating of people with disabilities in the United States and in our religious communities. We will conclude by brainstorming the ways that this approach to Job might impact ministry to/with people with disabilities.

Christ in a wheelchair

Presenter: Derek Yoder (Wednesday 11:00 & Wednesday 2:00)

Title: Christ of the Wheelchair

Description: Who bears the image of God? At this workshop, we will consider an icon of Christ, disabled and seated in a wheelchair. How might we receive the God revealed there? Participants will be invited to offer their own reflections and life stories. The presenter will share from his journey from scientist to pastor, while also offering theological exploration, exhortation, and prayer.



Past Keynote Sessions: 

Race, Place, and Catastrophe: Becoming Grapevine and Fig Tree Planters in a Time of Crisis

SLT 2022 graphic

In 2022, Eastern Mennonite Seminary’s School for Leadership Training collaborated with the Inverse Podcast community to present “Race, Place, and Catastrophe: Becoming Grapevine and Fig Tree Planters In a Time of Crisis” for a hybrid in-person and virtual conference. Keynote speakers from around the world included Drew Hart from Harrisburg, PA in the United States (co-host of Inverse Podcast), Jarrod Mckenna from Perth, Australia (co-host and founder of Inverse Podcast), and Carol Ng’ang’a from Nairobi, Kenya (Founder of Msingi Trust and Msingi Talks Podcast). It also included several other in-person and virtual workshops, worship through gospel music, opportunities for group fun and play, and some distinct InVerse way contributions to our time together.

The theme this year will orient us around our global crisis at the intersection of ongoing ecological devastation and white supremacy. Rather than speaking abstractly, we want to ground this conversation from the vantage point of the land we live upon together and how a Micah 4 infused imagination invites us to disrupt the global forces seeking to steal, kill, and destroy a sustainable and inhabitable way of life. Instead, the life-giving seeds of resistance will be found in God’s dream for all of creation while leaning into flourishing ways of being and interacting with one another and the ecosystem that sustains us.

Participants who attend will courageously envision and pursue shalom in the land while also encountering unique Inverse community practices and processes, stories and testimonials that will inspire local leaders and congregations, and it will also include the unique opportunity of joining us for a live recording of an Inverse podcast episode with an exciting surprise guest.

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Drew Hart, SLT SpeakerDrew G. I. Hart is an assistant professor of theology at Messiah University and has 10 years of pastoral experience. He directs Messiah University's Thriving Together: Congregations for Racial Justice program and co-hosts Inverse Podcast. Hart is the author of Trouble I've Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism (2016) and Who Will Be A Witness?: Igniting Activism for God's Justice, Love, and Deliverance (2020). He was the recipient of bcmPEACE’s 2017 Peacemaker Award, the 2019 W.E.B. Du Bois Award in Harrisburg, PA, and was Elizabethtown College’s 2019 Peace Fellow. Drew and his family live in Harrisburg, PA. (Twitter & Instagram @DruHart).

Carol Ng'ang'aCarol Ng’ang’a is a community development practitioner. She has a Bachelors of  Theology in Community Development from Cornerstone Institute in Cape Town. She has spent the last 11 years walking alongside various communities towards interventions for their empowerment. In July 2017, she founded Msingi Trust whose aim is to ‘Mobilize, Inspire, Equip and Network Christians and community leaders towards Social Justice, Social Activism and Social Transformation’ Carol is an ardent believer of justice, equality and empowerment for all and has special interest in working with faith leaders and grassroots human rights defenders, bridging the gaps, making connections between these two worlds, to create conversation content and connections to help in the fight  against injustice within their community contexts. Carol was part of the first 2018 Tearfund Young Theologian and is currently part of 2020’s  Tearfund Inspired Individuals program 
Follow her work on Facebook @Msingi Trust  on Instagram @Msingi Trust and on Twitter @msingitrust
Listen to Msingi's podcast- Msingi Talks on all major podcast streaming channels

Jerrod McKennaJarrod McKenna ( is passionate about the transfiguring fire of God’s love becoming our experience in prayer and our program for ecological and social justice. Fr. Richard Rohr has said, “It’s amazing and wonderful that Jarrod should be able to teach nonviolence so well at this time”. Jarrod’s peace awarding winning social change work has been featured internationally on the ABC, Al-Jazeera, the Guardian, the Australian Financial Review, Sojourners, Junkee, and even repeatedly across the Murdoch press and in several documentaries, including “Manus” nominated for a BAFTA in short films. Jarrod is the Founding CEO of a movement of over 50,000 Christians in Australian advocating for “beauty, generosity and justice”, served as World Vision Australia’s Advisor for Faith and Activism and the Nonviolent Movement Educator for World Vision in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, was an initiator of the largest Christian civil disobedience movement in Australia’s history “#LoveMakesAWay for refugees”, and is the co-founder and co-host with Dr Drew Hart of the InVerse Collective (and InVerse Podcast) that seeks to form disciples to participate in Christ’s liberating love to dismantle all forms of domination. (Twitter and Instagram: @JarrodMcKenna)

Very Revereand Kelly Brown DouglasThe Very Reverend Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas was named Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary and Professor of Theology at Union in September 2017.  She was named the Bill and Judith Moyers Chair in Theology in November 2019.  She also serves as the Canon Theologian at the Washington National Cathedral and Theologian in Residence at Trinity Church Wall Street.

Dean Douglas’ academic work has focused on womanist theology, sexuality and the Black church, and racial and social justice.  Prior to Union, she served as Professor of Religion at Goucher College where she held the Susan D. Morgan Professorship of Religion and is now Professor Emeritus.  Before Goucher, she was Associate Professor of Theology at Howard University School of Divinity (1987-2001) and Assistant Professor of Religion at Edward Waters College (1986-1987).

In addition to preaching in pulpits across the nation and speaking at universities around the globe, Dean Douglas is a frequent and vocal presence in today’s print, broadcast, and digital public square, speaking on racial and social justice, among other matters.

Meghan GoodMeghan Larissa Good

Dr. Meghan Larissa Good is Teaching Pastor at Trinity Mennonite Church (Glendale, AZ) and author of The Bible Unwrapped: Making Sense of Scripture Today.  She is a graduate of Portland Seminary, Duke Divinity School and Gordon College. Meghan is a frequent preacher and lecturer at churches and universities across the country, speaking on subjects such as biblical hermeneutics, emerging Anabaptism, and contemporary preaching.  She lives in Phoenix, AZ with a prized dinosaur bone and a ridiculously large book collection.

Meghan Good

Leadership in Desert Places: Stories from the Wilderness

Meghan presented a series of three short stories and reflections from the book of Exodus. The first was based on Exodus 3 and the burning bush story with a focus on the calling and vocation of leaders. The second story was be based on Exodus 16 with a focus on the question of what it looks like, practically speaking, to live on daily bread. The third story was based on Exodus 33 and focused on where God is in our darkest times.

Worship Leader: Shannon Dycus

Music: The Walking Roots Band

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Meghan Good Presentation

Canyon Crossings: Suffering, Endurance, and Christian Hope

Meghan focused on Hebrews 10:32-39; 12:1-2 and the experience of suffering and what we do with it, and what it takes to maintain hope in the presence of suffering. Meghan shared reminders of the "cloud of witnesses" that persevered in hope.

Worship Leader: Shannon Dycus

Poem: Leah Wenger

Music: The Walking Roots Band

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David Fitch- SLT Speaker

David Fitch

David Fitch (Ph.D Northwestern University) is B R Lindner Chair of evangelical theology at Northern Seminary, Chicago. He is married to Rae Ann and they have one son named Max. He is an ordained pastor in the Christian and Missionary Alliance and currently pastors (along with 3 other pastors) the Peace of Christ Church of Westmont IL, USA, a church plant of the Life on the Vine church of C&MA, northwest suburbs Chicago, which David planted with his wife in 2001. He coaches church planting for/ and leads the Church Planting Institute, an amalgamated effort of 5 different denominations to plant third wave incarnational churches. He’s a Bantam Hockey coach for the YMCA USA Hockey program. He speaks regularly on culture, politics, political theory, ethics, ecclesiology and mission. He writes from time to time on his own page at Missio Alliance but also for Christianity Today, OutReach Magazine,, EthicsDaily, and multiple other sites, magazines and journals. He leads discussion on his facebook page and on twitter at @fitchest. He has written several books, the most recent being  The Church of Us vs. Them: Freedom from a Faith that Feeds on Making Enemies. (Brazos, 2019) and Faithful Presence: 7 Disciplines That Shape the Church For God’s Mission (IVP, 2016). 

Watch Now: The Great Reset: Church on the Other Side of COVID-19

Michael Gulker- SLT SpeakerMichael Gulker

Michael Gulker is President of The Colossian Forum. He has a long-standing interest in the oft-times contentious intersection of faith and culture and how both thrive best when rooted in worship.  During his ten years at The Colossian Forum, Michael has become a leader in helping to turn conflict into an opportunity for deeper discipleship and a more beautiful witness. A native of West Michigan, he studied philosophy and theology at Calvin College, has a divinity degree from Duke Divinity School, and is an ordained Mennonite pastor. Before coming to The Colossian Forum, Michael served as pastor of Christ Community Church in Des Moines, Iowa. He and his wife Jodie have two children.

Michael Gulker presentation

Reconciling Presence: Fresh Gospel Opportunities For a Polarized World

In a divided world, the longing for reconciliation runs deep. As those tasked with the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5), the Church has an amazing opportunity to be a healing presence in our world today. Sadly, many of our church bodies are as divided as the wider culture, alienating youth, and depriving the world of the Gospel hope we’re called to share. We’re bad at conflict. We fear it. We avoid it. We mishandle it. And we’re not all likely to agree anytime soon. But what if we could lead through disagreements in ways that deepen discipleship instead of division? This plenary introduces fresh, applicable Christian practices and capacity-building ministry tools for faithfully embodying the Gospel of reconciliation even while we disagree.  

Watch Now

School for Leadership Training 2019

Among ‘stormy seas of change,’ School for Leadership Training celebrates 50 years of supporting ministry

School for Leadership Training 2018

Seminary conference gives space to brokenness, ‘kintsugi clergy’ and ministry in a polarized society

Listen to the podcast of Monday evening's plenary session:  “Bridges Crossed, Lessons Learned: My Journey in Leadership” - Iris de León-Hartshorn

School for Leadership Training 2017

School for Leadership Training addresses pastoral responses to a racialized and divided America
View photos
Listen to the podcast of Monday evening’s plenary session, “What’s So Good about this Samaritan?: A Christian Ethic for Navigating Power and Difference” – Christena Cleveland and Drew Hart

School for Leadership Training 2016

‘Oasis’-themed School for Leadership Training revisions the metaphorical desert as a vital site of growth and rebirth
Podcast- Seasons of Longing- Matt and Liz Myer Boulton

School for Leadership Training 2015

Church leaders discuss challenges of ministering to ‘nones’ and millenials at annual School for Leadership Training
Podcast- Fear and Courage in a Tiny Church: Reflections on Life in a Small Parish – Lauren Winner

School for Leadership Training 2014

Congregational leaders flock to seminary program on how to do “discernment” in the face of difficult issues

School for Leadership Training 2013

Reflections from Joan and Michael King

School for Leadership Training 2012

Podcasts of plenary speaker Walter Bruggemann

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