Pastors & Leaders | Deep Faith 2022 was a joint conference of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) and Mennonite Church USA for faith formation leaders.
It took place at AMBS and online February 21-24, 2022.
For many pastors and faith formation leaders, these days are a swirl of confusion and exhaustion. Even as schools and workplaces seem to be getting back into the swing of things, it’s hard to know what we can expect or hope for from our congregations.
What does the church need to be in this time? What is the Spirit’s call to us as we seek to be faithful pastors, youth or children’s ministers, sponsors, and teachers?
Fortunately, this is not the first time God’s people and their leaders have found themselves in a kind of wilderness. As we know, the Hebrew people wandered quite literally in the desert for many years. And the church, from its beginnings in the New Testament until now, in many places over many years, has faced times of great upheaval and struggle brought on by disease, war, discrimination, persecution, economic inequality and technological change. Somehow, in the midst of peril, God’s work and God’s people have not only survived, but thrived. And if their testimonies are to be believed, their lives and leadership have often been shaped by surprising hope.
What can we learn from leaders who were formed in the “wilderness” for the struggles we face today? The conference opened with a sermon by Dr. Sibonukhle Ncube describing our current wilderness and reminding us of the victory Jesus has won for us. In daily teaching sessions, we drew insight from the late Alan Kreider’s book, “The Patient Ferment of the Early Church: The Improbable Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire,” for guidance and inspiration for the challenges of our time. Each day, Eleanor Kreider, Alan’s wife and partner in ministry and scholarship, offered reflections on readings from Alan’s book. These were followed by responses from current church leaders: Nekeisha Alayna Alexis, Caley Ortman, Moriah Hurst, Mark Tiessen-Dyck, Madeline Maldonado, and Matt Troyer-Miller. Also each day, Dr. Tom Yoder Neufeld led Bible studies on the letter to the Hebrews about leading in hope through difficult times. Rolando Sosa Granados preached the closing worship sermon on “standing firm until the coming of the Lord.”