David Myers, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, visited Hesston College March 18 to 20 to discuss partnerships between the government and faith-based and other non-profit organizations with the Hesston College campus and wider local community. Kevin King, executive director of Mennonite Disaster Service, joined Myers in several of his presentations.
Myers and King spoke Friday, March 18, with the Hesston College Disaster Management Leadership Development class on the topic, “What makes a good leader?” Myers also spoke on the topic “Of the world, but not in it” during a Friday forum where he shared his personal journey and described the tension he sometimes experiences as a Mennonite working within the federal government.
“I’m humbled by the opportunity to work for the President of the United States,” Myers said. “The responsibility, honor and privilege are something that I feel phenomenally fortunate to do – not only the appointment itself, but the actual work I do in building effective partnerships between the federal government and faith-based and voluntary organizations.”
Friday evening, about 45 area pastors and other church leaders participated in an evening discussion with Myers and King. The discussion, facilitated by John Murray, lead pastor at Hesston Mennonite Church, explored the strengths and weaknesses of partnerships between the church and government.
A community-wide event Saturday drew about 40 people, including Disaster Management students and representatives of disaster response and recovery organizations, to discuss how faith-based and non-profit agencies can work efficiently with government agencies. Dr. Brenda Phillips, a professor in the Fire and Emergency Management Program at Oklahoma State University (Stillwater), moderated the conversation, which focused on barriers and opportunities for these working relationships and advice for the students entering the field.