Michigan men meet above and beyond
Bill Scott mentors three men in three-year seminary programby Anna Groff
The “journey” Bill Scott is leading three men through requires biweekly meetings and retreats twice a year. On top of those scheduled gatherings, the four men in Michigan voluntarily meet every week for Bible study and prayer.
From left: James Nelson, Renna Harness and Bill Scott at the September learning event at Amigo Centre, Sturgis, Mich. Not pictured: Rex Jones. Photo by SaeJin Lee.
“It’s really brought the four of us together,” says mentor Bill Scott, pastor of Ninth Street Mennonite Church in Saginaw, Mich.
Journey is a conference-based resource sponsored by Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and Indiana-Michigan and Central District conferences.
The pastoral ministry preparation program uses the undergraduate curriculum of Pastoral Studies Distance Education along with mentoring and twice-a-year learning events where all participants meet together.
The three men being mentored are in the second year of the three-year program. Renna Harness is an elder at Grace Chapel Mennonite Church in Saginaw, and James Nelson is a pastor there. Rex Jones is the assistant pastor at Ninth Street.
The three men work on an assignment at the September learning event at Amigo Center, Sturgis, Mich. Photo by Mary E. Klassen.
The latest learning event took place Sept. 14-16 at Amigo Centre, near Sturgis, Mich. Some 50 participants gathered there.
Harness says he appreciates learning about the Anabaptist tradition, since he came from another denomination. Through the learning events, he also learned he is not alone. Other participants also come from different denominations.
Last year, an Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference leader asked Scott if he knew of anyone interested in the program. Scott asked the three men, and they all responded yes. Then the conference minister asked Scott to mentor them.
“I felt a little apprehensive at first because of the time commitment, but now I feel that the time spent is worthwhile,” Scott says. “I’m really sold on the program.”
During their regular three-hour meetings, they work through the workbooks and the articles and share their responses with one another. The first year started with Anabaptist church history, followed by the role of the church community and then the role of pastors.
“We looked at a pastor as being a person, not just a leader,” Scott says. “[We discussed] the things that we as individuals need in terms of time off and being able to spend time studying the Scriptures and spending time with God.”
Since all four men are already in ministry, the material provides information they can apply to their teaching and preaching, according to Scott.
Harness says Scott is someone he can go to with personal problems, too.
“He’s a wonderful man,” Harness says. “He is knowledgeable about the Anabaptist tradition. He lets us debate when we disagree; we go back and forth until we are clear.”
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