Annual Gathering 2017

Creating Healing Environments

MHF Annual Gathering 2017!

Creating Healing Environments

Annual Gathering 2017 Logo

June 23-25, 2017

Laurelville Mennonite Church Center

Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania

Co-hosted with the Mennonite Chaplains Association

Report on Annual Gathering 2017

MHF focuses on Creating Healing Environments at Annual Gathering 2017

Nearly one hundred members of Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship (MHF) gathered at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center over the weekend of June 23-25, 2017 to explore the theme,  “Creating Healing Environments.” Severe weather, including torrential downpours and tornado warnings, greeted the attendees at they arrived on Friday, but the weather grew steadily more pleasant as the weekend progressed.

The plenary sessions included meaningful worship experiences, energetic singing, and thought-provoking input by presenters Donna Minter, John Wenger, David Baker, Anthony Brown, and Katerina Friesen. Eight workshops were presented on Saturday afternoon on a variety of topics, with participants able to choose up to four options.

Attendees represented a broad diversity of ages including several families. Twelve children participated in a lively and fun children’s program which met during the adult sessions. A large number of participants were attending their first MHF gathering. Long-time friendships were renewed and new friendships formed over social time, during meals, and between sessions. A highlight of the fellowship was the Saturday evening hymn sing and ice cream social.

For the first time, MHF tried live-streaming the plenary sessions on Facebook. Also created was a short video featuring a number of attendees making brief statements about how they create healing environments in their work. Videos can be viewed on Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship’s Facebook page under the “Videos” tab.  

Prior to the Annual Gathering, the MHF Board of Directors met on Thursday evening and Friday morning to consider a number of business items, including discussion about future Annual Gatherings. The consensus of the directors was that an annual meeting is important for maintaining the momentum of the organization, and for providing maximum opportunities for members in various parts of the country to attend. Next year’s Annual Gathering will be June 22-24, 2018, likely in Ohio. The exact location will be shared as soon as a contract with a facility is finalized.

This year’s gathering was co-hosted by the Mennonite Chaplains Association (MCA), of which about a dozen members were present. At their meeting on Friday afternoon, members of MCA voted to disband the organization, citing the difficulty of maintaining a national organization. MCA members are encouraged to become members of MHF, and/or to participate in chaplain cluster meetings sponsored by Mennonite Health Services or denominational chaplain circles. The presence of the chaplains at MHF’s Annual Gathering 2017 enriched the time together. Interim Executive Director Timothy Johnson expressed gratefulness for their attendance. He also expressed special thanks to J. Melvin Janzen, MCA President, for leading a time of centering prayer on Sunday morning before worship.

Annual Gathering 2017 Photo Gallery

Select a picture to start slide show.  

Worship and Music Leaders

Brad Yoder — Music Leader. Pittsburgh-based singer-songwriter Brad Yoder led in music throughout the weekend, and also playing his own songs in a coffeehouse performance Friday night, during the “Snacks & Fellowship” time. 



Kayla BerkeyKayla Berkey — Worship Leader,  Chair of Worship Commission at Pittsburgh Mennonite Church led the worship time.


Plenary Session Presentations

Friday evening, June 23 – Opening Plenary

Donna MinterEngaging the Anabaptist Vision: Healing in the Way of Jesus

Donna Minter




Saturday morning, June 24

John WengerHealing Spaces within 21st Century Healthcare Systems

John Wenger




Saturday evening, June 24

David BakerHealing in the Third Age

David Baker





Sunday morning, June 25 

Healing through Sharing Song and Story

Tony Brown




Leaves for the Healing of the Nations: Addressing the Spiritual Roots of the Climate Crisis

Katerina Friesen




Workshop Sessions

  • Introduction to Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) – Donna Minter
  • Repairing the Breach: Churches as Sites of Environmental Healing and Food System Change – Katerina Friesen
  • One Disease: Redox Imbalance as the Root Cause of Chronic Disease – Michael Sherer
  • Restoring Trauma-Informed Care: Keeping Ourselves Accountable with Cultural Humility and Social Consciousness – Aaron Erb
  • Training in the Healing Professions – Randy Longenecker, Shari Leidig Holland, and panel
  • Aging: A time for family conversations—and healing – Marlene and Gerald Kaufman
  • Healing Conversations around Contentious Subjects – Kenton Derstine
  • Mobilization for Service Reports – Grant Recipients

More information

Essay Scholarship

Students, residents, and other professionals in training were encouraged to submit an essay (under 2,000 words) on the theme “Creating Healing Environments” from their respective perspectives and experiences. Awards and publication were given to the following persons: 

Kenton T. Derstine

Kenton T. Derstine
Rockingham, Virginia
Chaplain/Pastoral Educator

As a member of Mennonite Chaplains Association I was intrigued when I learned about the emergence and vision of MHF. Rather than a separate organization designed to serve the needs of each profession I discovered an association intended to serve the point of connection among all professions involved in healthcare dedicated to addressing the shared challenge of integrating our faith into our different professions and contexts. I have been warmly welcomed at each annual gathering and have found the conversations, plenaries and workshops relevant to chaplains—and pastors. The vision of MHF—to promote and support a conversation among all Anabaptist concerned about issues related to healthcare in our society leads me to encourage chaplain and pastors who share these concerns to participate in MHF and contribute to the shared effort to bring our faith to bear on our day to day practice as well as society as a whole. For this conversation we need all professions at the table.

Paul D. Leichty

Paul D. Leichty, MDiv
Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Executive Director of Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship

I am committed to assist healthcare professionals to integrate their Anabaptist Christian faith and their professional life. It is a privilege to serve hundreds of committed and caring healthcare professionals in their faith journey. 

Lyubov Slashcheva, DDS

Lyubov Slashcheva, DDS
Iowa City, Iowa
Dental Resident/Fellow

Engaging with the mission of MHF allows me to bridge my identity as a follower of Jesus and healthcare professional, allowing me to strengthen the faith-based motivations in my career as a dentist.

Indigo Miller, BSN, RN

Indigo Miller, BSN, RN
Boston, Mass.
RN & MPH Candidate

MHF does important work providing opportunities for health professionals and students to build relationships across disciplines while encouraging tough conversations centered on how faith influences our individual and collective work improving health and seeking physical, mental, and spiritual human wellness. I am personally thankful to MHF for offering valuable opportunities in leadership and networking as a young professional, and their generosity via the Steven Roth Memorial Grant Program in support of my public health volunteering in Tanzania.

Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship

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