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Boshart appointed AMBS president after ‘extended discernment’

9.16. 2019 Written By: Sheldon C. Good

Photo: Shana Peachey Boshart and David W. Boshart. Photo by Melissa Troyer.

The Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary board of directors announced its appointment of David W. Boshart, Ph.D., as the seminary’s next president, beginning Jan. 1, 2020. The appointment came after the presidential search committee had entered a time of “extended discernment.”

Upon the recommendation of the search committee, the board approved the appointment of Boshart, of Wellman, Iowa, according to a Sept. 10 AMBS news release. He will serve as the fourth president of AMBS in Elkhart, Indiana.

Boshart succeeds Sara Wenger Shenk, Ed.D., who retired June 30 after nine years as president. Until January, vice president and academic dean Beverly Lapp, Ed.D., will continue as acting president.

“David Boshart embodies the core values of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and, on behalf of the Search Committee, I am delighted he has accepted our invitation to serve as our next president,” says Miriam Book, of Lititz, Pennsylvania, a member of the board of directors and search committee chair, in the news release. “He brings the preferred attributes of experience in pastoral, church leadership, administration and education identified by stakeholders both on the campus and throughout Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.”

Boshart was the unanimous choice of the search committee and received strong support from the board, the news release says. “Both groups noted their belief that he will be a transformational leader for the seminary, bringing with him a deep love for the institution, exceptional commitment to its vision and mission, passion for educating and equipping pastors and leaders, a collaborative leadership style, and gifts for finding positive ways to bring people together.”

The search committee announced Boshart as its candidate of choice on June 10. The search committee announced July 4 that the committee had entered a time of “extended discernment.”

In a Sept. 10 email to friends of AMBS, board chair Bruce Baergen of Edmonton, Alberta, said the search process included “outreach to and listening sessions with the AMBS community and the wider church to gather a diversity of perspectives on the candidate, and a time of extended discernment to consider together the resulting input.”

Baergen added in a Sept. 11 email to The Mennonite that the board “received many strong affirmations of David as a leader. For the concerns we heard, the search committee worked hard at listening and discerning, and this work informed our decision making. We learned that there is broad support for his leadership and his character as a leader and we heard many stories of how well he dealt with challenging conversations as well as how he can relate well to a broad diversity of the church.”

During the “extended discernment” period, AMBS used a professional consulting firm, Baergen said by email.

AMBS in its news release cites “broad campus enthusiasm for David’s appointment as president, including unanimous support from the AMBS teaching faculty.”

Jamie Pitts, Ph.D., search committee faculty representative, says in the news release, “David’s proven track record of interculturally competent leadership, his vision for how the seminary might serve the whole church, and his passion for the nuts and bolts of theological education make him a great fit as the next president of AMBS.”

Baergen in his Sept. 11 email noted that the AMBS teaching faculty “were highly involved in assessing David as a candidate, and this culminated in their full support. Campus feedback indicated that the staff is looking forward to David’s leadership. The student response to David’s candidacy was positive, and our on-campus announcement was very well received by students and staff.”

Boshart says in the AMBS news release that “AMBS is recognized across the church and around the world as a faithful and generative learning community that forms skilled leaders for God’s reconciling mission in the world. I am honored by the strong and clear call from the search committee, board and faculty to serve as the next president.”

Since 2010, Boshart has served as executive conference minister for Central Plains Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA. As part of this role, he supported emerging congregations and a partnership with Mennonite Mission Network and Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Colombia (Colombia Mennonite Church) in support of Anabaptist networks in Ecuador and Venezuela. He pastored for more than 25 years in Mennonite congregations in Iowa and Virginia.

In July, Boshart completed a two-year term as moderator of MC USA, having served on the MC USA Executive Board since 2007. He was a member of the AMBS board of directors from 1999 to 2007, serving as chair from 2003 to 2005.

Boshart has a Ph.D. in leadership studies with an emphasis on missional theology from the School of Education at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and a master of arts in religion with a major in New Testament theology from Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He has taught at AMBS as an adjunct faculty member and has taught an online introduction to theological studies course as part of a pilot program for Hmong students.

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