David W. Boshart, Ph.D., of Wellman, Iowa, has been appointed the next president of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS), Elkhart, Ind., effective Jan. 1, 2020, following a period of “extended discernment” that included “outreach to and listening sessions with the AMBS community,” according to board chair Bruce Baergen of Edmonton.
Boshart succeeds Sara Wenger Shenk, who retired on June 30 after nine years as president.
Since 2010, Boshart has served as executive conference minister for Central Plains Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church U.S.A. Prior to Central Plains, he served as a pastor for more than 25 years in Mennonite congregations in Iowa and Virginia.
Boshart has a doctorate in leadership studies with an emphasis in missional theology from the School of Education at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich. He also earned degrees from Eastern Mennonite Seminary and Eastern Mennonite College (now University), both in Harrisonburg, Va.
Boshart also will bring to his new role his experiences of serving in volunteer leadership roles across the Mennonite church; in July, he completed a two-year term as moderator of MC U.S.A. (2017-19), having served on the denomination’s Executive Board since 2007 and on the Board’s executive committee since 2008. He was a member of the AMBS board of directors (1999-2007), serving as chair (2003-05).
Beverly Lapp, the current vice-president and academic dean, will continue to serve as acting president until the end of this year.
Boshart’s traditional theological leanings and credentials have been called into question by at least four women on social media and the Into Account website since the announcement, citing his views on dealing with sexual abuse survivors, same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ+ issues as reasons for opposing his appointment.
They also lament that they feel their concerns were not sufficiently taken into account by AMBS during the hiring process that included the use of an outside consulting firm.
—With files from AMBS and Into Account
Update (Sept. 23):
On Sept. 20, AMBS posted a statement from Baergen responding to the “extended discernment” process: bit.ly/ambs-sept-20-response.
Wenger Shenk concludes nine years of service at AMBS