AVDS conference to focus on resilience and healing in the face of trauma

A Hesston College conference will tackle the difficult and painful reality of dealing with trauma in its many forms in church and community settings. The annual Anabaptist Vision and Discipleship Series (AVDS) conference will be Feb. 17 to 19, on the Hesston College campus. The theme, “When the Unthinkable Happens,” will address a congregational and community response to situations that span natural disasters to domestic or sexual abuse to a mass shooting or other traumas.

Following the conference on Monday, Feb. 20, Hesston College and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Central States will co-sponsor a STAR-Lite (Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience) training event.

“We are very pleased at Hesston College, along with our partner sponsors, to bring this important and timely conference to the area and to serve churches and communities across the country” said Dallas Stutzman, director of Alumni and Church Relations.

Keynote presenters for the weekend are Rev. Dr. Kate Wiebe, founder and director of the Institute for Congregational Trauma and Growth (Santa Barbara, Calif.), Dr. Donna Minter, founder and executive director of the Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute (Minneapolis), and Kevin King, executive director of Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS). Personal stories of facing the unthinkable will be part of the weekend as well as an outstanding list of “Facing the unthinkable with resiliency” seminars from local and national presenters.

The focus of the weekend will be to prepare all people – pastors, laypersons, community leaders, emergency responders and others – for any kind of traumatic event. Participants will learn key principles and practices for responding to the trauma with resiliency, hope and healing.

“Through processes of preparing for trauma, individuals and groups practice skills to sustain capacities for health and build relationships they can truly rely on when they need them most,” said Dr. Wiebe. “In a troubled world, these practices are critical.”

In advance of the conference, attendees are encouraged to read The Little Book of Trauma Healing: When Violence Strikes and Community Security is Threatened, by Carolyn Yoder, founding STAR director. The book is available for purchase through Amazon.com at a nominal price. Books will also be available at no cost locally through Hesston College and the Hesston Public Library thanks to a grant from the Hesston Community Foundation. A variety of other preparatory reads will be suggested through the college and library websites.

Ted & Company TheaterWorks, led by veteran actor Ted Swartz, will show how humor and laughter can aid the healing process in a 7 p.m. show, Saturday, Feb. 18, at Hesston Mennonite Church on the Hesston College campus. “Just Give ’Em the News” is the theater company’s Christmas show, with a common analogy of dark to light during the Advent season also being applicable in the case of trauma events – from trauma to resilience. Non-conference attendees can purchase show tickets for $12 per adult at the door or at the Hesston College Bookstore. Youth through high school-age are free.

The Feb. 20 STAR-Lite training is a research- and practice-supported peacebuilding training led by Dr. Minter. STAR integrates neuropsychology, trauma healing and resilience, restorative justice, non-violent conflict transformation and broadly defined spirituality for the healing and empowerment of lives and communities.

The training is eligible for 6.5 continuing education units (CEUs) for all categories of mental health providers, teachers and nurses and 5.5 CLEs for attorneys, as well as public continuing education. Prairie View, Inc. (Newton, Kan.) will provide certification for the STAR-Lite training.

Full schedules and registration information for the Feb. 17 to 19 AVDS conference and the Feb. 20 STAR-Lite training can be found at hesston.edu/avds. Individual registration for the weekend is $100 with discounts available for groups of two or more from the same church or organization. STAR-Lite training registration is $85 per person. Registrations are due by Friday, Feb. 10.

Call the Hesston College Church Relations Office with questions at 620-327-8109 or toll-free at 866-437-7866.

Sponsors for the AVDS weekend include Hesston Mennonite Church, Whitestone Mennonite Church, South Central Mennonite Conference, Western District Mennonite Conference, Everence, Mennonite Church USA Peace and Justice Support Network, Mennonite Disaster Service and the Hesston Community Foundation.

Anabaptist Vision and Discipleship Series