Why I am at AMBS

by Virginia Gerbrandt
June, 2010 

I came to Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) because I saw it as a place where people are able to grow and learn, a place that fosters community and understanding. I came here in faith and trust, and because I believe all these things are true, I stay.

I worked as a pastor for three years before coming to AMBS. During that time I felt the need to gain a better understanding of what I was doing, of the role of the pastor within the church, and the theology behind the actions and practices that I was doing. I wanted to explore these questions in a more deliberate way. I needed to take time to ask these questions in a space that was safe to allow me to explore some of the negative implications of these questions. I also wanted to ask these questions with others struggling with similar issues in order to challenge each other. Out of these needs and desires the decision to come to AMBS seemed natural. I trusted the process; I trusted that as I delved deeper into these questions I would gain a better understanding, if not absolute answers.

In my time at AMBS I do not feel that I have found answers to my questions but made more discoveries into who I am and what I value. In this way AMBS has been a place of growth. This growth has helped me discover more about who I am and especially about who I am as a ministering person.

This discovery was most apparent during a class that I took through the Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education(SCUPE), a partner program of AMBS. The class was an intensive two-week class during which I lived in Chicago and was in class everyday, all day. We visited various communities and ministry programs in Chicago. We participated in anti-racism training and we named and processed the racism we saw daily. The professors pushed us to think about what ministry truly means and how we would do ministry in these and other settings. But they did not leave it there; we were pushed to understand what we had learned as a gift that needed to be shared. The real goal was to enable us to go out and share it with the broader church/other people to help them also become aware and empowered to minister. I learned that I am not at AMBS to take a break from ministry only to go back to ministry once I graduate, but that AMBS is one step among many to help me grow as a person and a minister of the gospel. 

I will continue growing as I move beyond the AMBS community to places like SCUPE and the wider church. Growth will happen as I share with others what I have learned and also as I am continually challenged by whomever I am in community with. AMBS has challenged me to think of myself as a ministering person who is called to continual learning and growth. We are all on a journey and need to be deliberate about continually challenging ourselves to grow.

Virginia Gerbrandt is from Winnipeg, Man., and served as a pastor in Leamington, Ont., before coming to AMBS. Her program of study is the pastoral ministry track of the Master of Divinity degree.