AVDS conference to highlight Bible as a complete story

AVDS 2014 speakers

Marion Bontrager, Michele Hershberger, Jeremy Kempf, Ted SwartzParticipants in Hesston College’s annual Anabaptist Vision and Discipleship Series (AVDS) conference Feb. 21 to 23 will have the opportunity to discover the relevancy of the Bible and making it come alive in today’s world through the weekend’s theme, “Reading the Bible in an Instagram World.” Select weekend events are open to the public as well.

Using a condensed version of Hesston College’s well-known Biblical Literature course and the cornerstone of the class, the Heilsgeschichte, or Salvation History, participants will see how the Bible functions as complete story of the people of God and how it impacts contemporary life.

The weekend conference will feature presenters Marion Bontrager and Michele Hershberger of the Hesston College Bible and Ministry program, and nationally-recognized presenters songwriter and worship leader Jeremy Kempf (Glendale, Ariz.) and performer Ted Swartz (Harrisonburg, Va.) of Ted & Company TheatreWorks.

Events open to the public as well as conference participants, include a presentation of Swartz’s show “Didn’t You Get My Letter? Musings from the Apostle Paul,” at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22, in the sanctuary of the Hesston Mennonite Church on the Hesston College campus. General public tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and can be purchased in advance through the Hesston College Bookstore by calling 620-327-8105 or at the door prior to the performance. Conference participants will receive their ticket as part of their registration fee.

Swartz is known for re-telling the Bible through unconventional lenses that utilize humor and life lessons. “Didn’t You Get My Letter” portrays the Apostle Paul as an often misunderstood man as it looks at Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, his sometimes contentious relationship with Peter and his frustrations with Jesus’ followers known as the church. Swartz’s portrayal helps audience members better understand Paul’s passion, pains, doubts and unshakable belief in the church and the power of love.

The public is also invited to a 10:30 a.m. worship service with conference participants and the Hesston Mennonite Church congregation to hear a variety of 21st century believers us biblical hooks to connect their story with God’s story.

Bontrager, co-creator of the Biblical Literature curriculum, is an ordained minister, public speaker and a leader in the South Central Conference of Mennonite Church USA.

Hershberger is an ordained minister, public speaker and author of “A Christian View of Hospitality: Expecting Surprises” (Herald Press, 1999) and “God’s Story, Our Story: Exploring Christian Faith and Life” (Faith and Life Resources, 2003) and co-author of “Now It Springs Up” (Willowspring Downs, 2007).

Kempf serves as the Director of Music and Worship at Trinity Mennonite Church (Glendale, Ariz.) and has served as worship leader at several Mennonite Church USA youth conventions. He is a Hesston College alumnus and former Biblical Literature student.

Swartz couples theatre and a seminary education to present biblical stories through humor in theatre. Ted & Company is a team of actors and musicians who use humor and professional storytelling to talk about issues of faith and social justice through their many live shows, DVDs, digital videos, scripts and discussion guides.

The Anabaptist Vision and Discipleship Series was started at Hesston College to help Christians from the Anabaptist tradition and others interested in Anabaptism more fully understand their faith. The conference is designed for any interested person, not just pastors and congregational leaders.

A complete schedule, registration information and speaker information are available at www.hesston.edu. Cost for registration is $100 for individuals or $80 per person if registered in groups of three or more. Students receive a discounted rate of $20.

The Western District Conference of Mennonite Church USA has $30 rebates available for 30 participants from the conference’s congregations. Contact Nancy Funk at 316-283-6300 or wdc@mennowdc.org to sign up for the rebate, which will be issued after the event.

For more information, contact the Hesston College Special Events office at 866-437-7866