Author: Shenk, Sara Wenger
Date published: July 11, 2011
I have often been surprised this year. Surprised by the quality of the people at AMBS, and how much fun it is to work with them. Surprised by the vast network of friends who believe in AMBS's mission. Surprised by the many alumni who tell me how transformative their experience at AMBS was. Surprised by how much I love this work (having been amply warned that I must still be in the honeymoon phase). Surprised by the beauty of northern Indiana (though now you all think I'm kidding-but I stand as witness yet again today after a 20-mile bike ride on the Pumpkinvine trail). Above all, I've been surprised by AMBS students who over and over again inspire the community with their spirited readiness to lead us into a hope-filled future.
One of the delights of spring semester is that chapels often include seniors reflecting back over their years of study at AMBS. The stories I heard this year were about surprising discoveries, profound learning and confirmation of giftedness for leadership.
Nathan remembered being surprised that when he left for seminary, his father didn't give him a speech about working hard or making the most of an opportunity that many Christians in the world don't have. Instead, his father told him "to seek God's transcendence."
In his chapel talk, Nathan acknowledged not really knowing then what that meant. But the formation that happened for him in his three years at AMBS has given him glimpses of what transcendence means.
Carrie remembered being surprised by the revelatory word a visiting pastor spoke that resonated with her own sense of calling: "I am a pastor, because I can't not be a pastor." After having left another career to prepare for pastoral ministry, Carrie realized with a deep sense of rightness that she is an advocate for children's nurture and a storyteller because she simply cannot be any other way.
This year has been rewarding in many ways. We've hired two exciting new faculty, begun to renovate our beloved chapel, fully endowed our first faculty chair in Missional Leadership, hosted several outstanding conferences and much more.
But what brings me the most joy is seeing our graduates provide leadership as theologically articulate, scripturally grounded, prayerful practitioners of the transcendent good news of Jesus Christ. And the surprise is that I can't imagine any work that would be more fulfilling than serving the church in this learning community, with its Anabaptist vision and resolve to educate leaders for God's reconciling mission in the world.
Sara Wenger Shenk, President