By Sarah Teeter
Anabaptist Vision and Discipleship Series is a conference held every year at Hesston College. This conference is aimed at re-examining values and giving others a deeper look into the stories of others in order to tend to our own souls. For one of the Hesston College students who attended the conference and shared her personal story, Mariana Martinez explained the conference as “A way for people to be able to find ways to embody the beatitudes.” This year, Mark and Lisa Scandrette partnered with Hesston college share their experiences with the participants as well as lead them in scripture and exercise in the elements of faith. Mark and Lisa founded ReIMAGINE: A center for Integral Christian Practice. This organization leads workshops, retreats, and projects that help integrate different pieces of spiritual wisdom into the everyday life. Those who attended AVDS were asked to take a look at the beatitudes to explore the way they engage, invite, connect, and refresh oneself. The goal of this conference was to come away with tools and skills to be able to lead others on their journey, as well as enhance their own.
On Friday night, the opening session took place as a group of Hesston College students lead a call to worship in song. Mark Scandrette then introduced himself and his wife and told a little bit about their background. One moment that stood out to many of the attendees was the sticky note exercise, where everyone was asked to anonymously write five insecurities or worries on a card, and tape them to the wall in front of the congregation. Mark then read some out loud before asking everyone to couple up and discuss ways that each person could quell their worries and fears in order to have a better relationship with God. This exercise was mainly about affirming trust in God and opening up about how one would react and handle themselves if their fears or worries became a reality. As a way to open up the conversation to deeper and more meaningful topics, Michelle Sharp shared about the story of her son, MJ Sharp and his experience in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and how Michelle learned to cope with his passing.
Saturday opened with a different feel of a more grouped setting. The opening session dug deeper into the beatitudes and how they could refresh one’s mind and open opportunities to reconnect and engage. The participants then took time to reflect on what they heard on their time together in silence and solitude. Afterwards, the attendees practiced feet washing as a way to come closer together and practice humility. Groups crossed boundaries by listening to individuals tell their stories. Hesston College students Masemo Wakibogo and Mariana Martinez shared their experiences on being immigrants, and others shared about their stories on experiences with race. In the evening, people shared together in a meal of Baleadas, a Mandarin dish, while having deep conversations and sharing personal experiences in order to be heard and encourage others.
On Sunday, the conference wrapped up in a closing session and a worship session with Hesston Mennonite Church, where Mark and Lisa talked about creating a thriving family and a community culture. Anabaptist Vision and Discipleship Series is “If you are interested in learning more about Anabaptist vision, students should think about attending this event, even if it is not required for a class, as it opens up a whole new perspective on the Anabaptist lifestyle.” says Mariana Martinez. “The speakers who are asked to come present know what they’re talking about, and offer very good insight into topics that people may struggle with everyday.”