[an error occurred while processing this directive] This article is from the EMU News Archive. The approximate date of publication was in August 2005. Current EMU news is available at www.emu.edu/news

Area Pastors Offered Leadership Training

Preaching Institute
Mark Wenger (wearing dark blue shirt) leads a prayer session during a Preaching Institute class at EMS at Lancaster.

Mark R. Wenger is a man on a mission.

His task as director of pastoral studies at EMS at Lancaster is to spread the word that resources are available to equip area pastors and other church leaders to better serve their congregations.

Dr. Wenger, who graduated from high school in the Lancaster area, spent the last 10 years co-pastoring the Springdale Mennonite Church near Waynesboro, Va., with his wife, Kathy Weaver Wenger. He also served worked with the Preaching Institute at Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Va.

The Wengers moved from Virginia to Pennsylvania this summer so that Wenger could work more closely with prospective students, using the EMU at Lancaster site at 1846 Charter Lane as a base.

"This move represents a major initiative by EMS to expand leadership training opportunities for pastors in the Lancaster and greater southeastern Pennsylvania area," Wenger said.

Wenger's first day in the office was July 11. Since then he's spent many hours on the phone contacting area pastors and inviting them to consider taking upcoming courses locally.

"We intend to begin offering more core courses for persons wanting seminary classes. This will make it possible to earn a Certificate in Theological Studies that in turn can be applied toward a graduate-level degree at EMS," Wenger noted.

Seminary-level classes scheduled this fall include:

Mark Wenger
Mark Wenger leads a Preaching Institute session at EMS at Lancaster.

In addition to overseeing seminary courses, the Preaching Institute and teaching at least one course each year, Wenger has also stepped into the director's role for the STEP (Study and Training for Effective Pastoral Ministry) program, designed especially for pastoral leaders who don't have college or Bible school training.

STEP is a three-year training program leading to a certificate of completion that can be applied towards an associate in arts degree awarded by EMU. The program has received accreditation approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

For example, Lancaster Mennonite Conference has some 17,496 members in 1876 congregations in an eight-state area and 385 active ordained and licensed pastors. Many of these pastors are bi-vocational, often called from within their congregations with little or no formal pastoral training. Similar situations are found in other denominations and congregations in the area.

"I'm amazed to find how many area persons are employed full time in the professions or trades while also pastoring congregations and parenting, all at the same time," Wenger said. "We believe congregations will want to invest in their own mission and growth by enabling their pastors to get high-quality training.

"Congregations are asking a lot of their pastors," he continued. "Eastern Mennonite Seminary has educational resources that equip men and women to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ, prepared to lead the church in mission with passion and integrity.

"This is at the heart of our mission. Our goal is to meet the needs of local congregations and leaders of various church groups," Wenger added.

Wenger welcomes anyone to call him at his Lancaster office for more information on any of the pastoral study-training programs being offered this fall. He can be reached at (717) 397-5190 or e-mail .

-article by Jim Bishop

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