In 2016 Regional Conference Minister James Wenger received conference support and organized a year long mentor for a larger-than-usual group of new pastors in our congregations. Using the book Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton, Howard Keim coached the participants in developing their pastoral identity, asking them, “What does it mean for you to be a pastor?” rather than focusing on the technical aspects of how to do pastoring. One of the participants in this coaching group was Zach Batson (recently licensed toward ordination as associate pastor at Journey@McPherson).
Baptized at Journey in 2014, Zach’s initial involvement in McPherson was using his gift of music to lead worship. Zach says through this mentorship, “… it became more clear to me how God had developed me for broader aspects of church leadership. Through my conversations with Howard and the other young pastors I began to realize a strong hunger for learning about the work of God throughout history—especially in the Anabaptist tradition, and how I am uniquely gifted to partner with Him in my own context. This has helped me to make decisions like helping to start our Arts After School Program for middle school students. Howard also helped me to see how God has prepared me for ministry in ways I wouldn’t have expected. Years in construction management combined with my love for creative thought and the arts can be a strong combination for leadership in the church.”
Through discernment with Howard and the Journey family Zach decided to attend Friends University, earning a Masters degree in Christian Spiritual Formation and leadership; which the conference supported with a Ministerial Grant. Zach says, “I couldn’t be happier that I chose that program! I’ve discovered deep joy in my own journey of transformation and I am excited to take part in the continued transformation of people and our community. Recent conversations with Clarence Rempel, current regional conference minister, and my licensing have helped to confirm this call.”