[an error occurred while processing this directive] This article is from the EMU News Archive. The approximate date of publication was in January 2007. Current EMU news is available at www.emu.edu/news
“We are living in a smorgasbord culture where everything is interesting and nothing matters.” said Dr. Dorothy Bass, keynote speaker for the 2007 School for Leadership Training (SLT) at Eastern Mennonite University.
“Christian practices are things Christian people do over time that reflect a response to God’s grace,” said Bass, director of the Valparaiso (Ind.) Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith, an ecumenical project to develop resources to help people live the Christian faith with vitality and integrity.
“Practices that reflect abundant life are endangered in our society,” Bass continued. “They are being overcome by lifestyles that are rich in things but impoverished in things that matter.”
Over three days, Jan. 16-18, Bass encouraged the 225 SLT participants to reflect on their own experiences of Christian practices such as hospitality, Sabbath, forgiveness, healing and discernment, among others.
These practices, Bass said, are to be shaping factors in the lives of Christians, noting:
“A Christian practice is not just niceness or some belief that we feel we should enact. A Christian practice is a way of living that is woven into our daily lives.”
“Participation in these practices is formative,” she said. “It makes you someone, but study of the content and meaning behind the practices can be transformative.”
Bass used the practices of Sabbath and hospitality to illustrate how Christian practices form and transform. “Sabbath is now something Christians can choose,” she said.
“If we really ponder the biblical stories into which these practices draw us, we can see how they will orient us to a different way of life,” the speaker said. For example, Bass said “Resting [as in Sabbath] is one way of reminding us that we are not the creator and we don’t have to keep the world going.”
“It has been challenging for me to think about practices like hospitality and Sabbath,” said Marc Hochstetler, pastor at Moorhead Mennonite Church , Millersburg , Ohio . “It has been good to look these practices again and remember their biblical background.”
Joan Troyer, a hospice nurse and lay leader at Berkley Avenue Mennonite Fellowship, Goshen , Ind. , said, “I came to SLT for my own personal renewal. Coming here has allowed me to receive spiritual nourishment, instead of always having to provide spiritual food for others.”
Next year’s School for Leadership Training will beheld Jan. 21-24, 2008 on the theme of “embodying sexual wholeness.”
- Laura Lehman Amstutz 1-22-07
Read about two popular SLT workshops
Read about the SLT Banquet