Jacob Dodson, a mentor, and Jeremy Clevenger, a Journey participant, both of Wooster (Ohio) Mennonite Church, took part in the September 2018 Journey Weekend Learning Event at Amigo Centre, Sturgis, Michigan. Photo by Jason Bryant.

Ohio Conference is partnering with Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in Elkhart, Indiana, to provide a part-time long-distance leadership development program.

Journey: A Missional Leadership Development Program is a three-year certificate program designed for people exploring a call to ministry. The program is also for pastors and other congregational leaders who have already been called to serve but who lack specific training in ministry.

The Ohio Conference is now one of three conferences from Mennonite Church USA sponsoring Journey. The other two conferences are Indiana-Michigan and Central District.

This spring the Ohio Conference Leadership Team approved a proposal to become a sponsoring conference for the Journey program. “At a time when it is getting harder and harder to fill pastoral openings, this program appears to be a valuable resource for leadership development,” said Conference Minister Dick Barrett.

The sponsoring conferences do not provide financial support for the Journey program. Instead, the conference minister from each sponsoring conference serves on the board overseeing the program. In return, individuals from the sponsoring conferences are able to participate in the Journey program for a reduced rate.

Journey involves work in three different learning environments:

  • Online coursework with other participants
  • Short annual visits to Amigo Centre in Sturgis, Michigan, and AMBS in Elkhart, Indiana
  • Meetings with a local pastoral mentor every two weeks

Ohio Conference already has several individuals who are participating in the Journey program. Jeremy Clevenger of Wooster Mennonite Church is a current participant in the program, with Jacob Dodson, pastor of Wooster Mennonite, serving as his mentor. Marilyn Rossiter, pastor of Summit Mennonite Church, is a mentor for a participant from Central District Conference.

The fall 2019 Journey program will begin with a face-to-face gathering Friday evening through Saturday noon, Sept. 6-8, followed by online work beginning Sept. 11.

The registration deadline for the fall is Aug. 6. In recognition of Ohio Conference’s status as a newly supporting conference, Jewel Gingerich Longenecker, AMBS Dean of Lifelong Learning, has extended the $100 early registration discount for anyone from Ohio Conference who signs up for this program by the Aug. 6 registration deadline.

Some scholarship funds may be available from the Ohio Conference for those interested in participating in Journey. Please contact Conference Minister Dick Barrett at ohioconferenceminister@gmail.com for more information.

More facts about Journey

The Journey program is divided into five units, with each unit lasting 20-22 weeks. During each unit, participants are expected to do at least five hours of study per week.

Journey is designed to help participants develop strengths in six areas:

  • Spiritual disciplines
  • Theological and biblical studies
  • Character development
  • Mentoring and community
  • Gift development
  • Leadership skills

Cost for members of Ohio Conference congregations is $450 per unit, plus the cost of lodging and meals at weekend learning events.

To learn more about Journey, please see the program brochure at http://bit.ly/2019JourneyBrochure. The AMBS website also has answers to some frequently asked questions about the program. See http://bit.ly/AMBSJourneyFAQ.

A feature article about Journey appeared in the January-February issue of Ohio Mennonite Evangel. You can read it here: http://bit.ly/JourneyTransformsLearners.