Upcoming Ventures courses explore a church’s journey ‘From Tragedy to Community’ and faith in media culture

By Kendra Flory

Ventures in Christian Discipleship at McPherson (Kan.) College is offering courses in March and May. The March offering will be “From Tragedy to Community” online March 31, starting at 9 p.m. (Eastern time), presented by Andrew Sampson, pastor at Modesto (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. The May offering will be “Spirituality on the Screen” online May 2, at 7 p.m. (Eastern time), presented by Walt Wiltschek, district executive minister for the Church of the Brethren’s Illinois and Wisconsin District and a member of the editorial team for Messenger magazine.

From Tragedy to Community’

Churches are a part of their communities and connections can be created through unfortunate or tragic circumstances. For the Modesto congregation, this happened when a young man was shot and killed by police on church property shortly after Christmas in 2020. Since that dreadful day, new friends and links were made as the congregation has connected with his family and friends by attending vigils and protests together, walking the labyrinth, and even cleaning graffiti together near the location where he was shot.

Not everything has gone smoothly and there have been missteps and mistakes made along the way. In this course, we will talk together about how church congregations and church leaders/pastors can work through situations that are difficult, to be prepared for in ways that build trust and community for everyone involved.

Andrew Sampson lives in Modesto with his wife, Allison, their two sons, and a menagerie of animals. When not pastoring or being used as furniture by one of their English Mastiffs, he enjoys exploring the outdoors, attempting to catch fish, and cooking.

Spirituality on the Screen’

Even while culture seems to be drifting away from organized religion, according to many recent surveys, faith pops up all over the place in television and film and elsewhere in media culture. How are God and other parts of faith being portrayed? And are these intersections a good thing? Join us to dig in deeper and discuss together.

Walt Wiltschek started last year as part-time district executive minister for Illinois and Wisconsin and currently lives in Lombard, Ill. He also does part-time chaplaincy work for Illinois Wesleyan University. He previously served as pastor of Easton (Md.) Church of the Brethren, campus pastor at Manchester University in Indiana, and editor of Messenger magazine, for which he still does some writing and editing. He enjoys traveling, camp ministry, puns and wordplay, and cheering for various sports teams.

Continuing education credit is available for $10 per course. During the registration process, you will have the opportunity to pay for CEUs and give an optional donation to the Ventures program. Go to www.mcpherson.edu/ventures.

– Kendra Flory is advancement assistant at McPherson (Kan.) College.


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