In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) leaders of !Explore: A Theological Program for High School Youth are planning for a robust opportunity for teens to deepen their faith, expand their soul and imagine their place in God’s kingdom in the summer of 2021.
“!Explore offers a chance to wrestle with questions about God and the church,” said Rianna Isaak-Krauss, a 2020 AMBS graduate from Winnipeg, Man., and an event pastor in 2019. “I saw faith come alive in the teens.”
The program provides students in grades 10–12 an opportunity to explore ministry and theology, grow in spiritual practices and listen for God’s call through a summer congregational internship and a Group Experience.
The Group Experience (July 13-29, 2021) on and around the AMBS campus is a time for experiential learning, worship and prayer; researching and discussing theological questions; practicing ministry skills; reflecting in nature, and doing service projects together. During the Congregational Experience, which can happen before and after the Group Experience, youth spend 100 hours working in their home congregation, engaging in activities such as worship planning, preaching, music leading, teaching Sunday School, tech support and visitation. Two event pastors, current AMBS students, bring their unique perspectives to the program.
Participants in !Explore 2021 at AMBS will have the option of participating in !Explore 2022 at Mennonite World Conference in Indonesia as well. More than one youth from each congregation may participate.
Congregations, participants and AMBS each help cover expenses. The participant’s congregation contributes $500 to AMBS for program fees and $500 to the participant for the church internship. The participant or the congregation covers the cost of travel to and from the AMBS campus in Elkhart, Indiana. During the 18-day Group Experience, AMBS covers all meals, lodging, fees and travel. !Explore gives $500 to each participant at the end of the program. This $1,000 stipend allows the youth to earn some income while engaging the world of theological ideas and fostering a call to vocation in the church.
“!Explore cracked open my understanding of Mennonites and the Mennonite Church,” said Lynea Brubacher Kaethler, a 2013 participant who is now an Ottawa (Ontario) Mennonite Church youth sponsor and Sunday school teacher. “I practiced along with my peers and mentors ways to be leaders in the church.”
See ambs.edu/explore to learn more and apply. The application deadline is March 15, 2021.