The Gathering Place, a virtual space where Anabaptist faith formation leaders can gather, learn, share and grow, is getting a new start with new resources and several upcoming webinars for Mennonite Church USA faith formation leaders. The Gathering Place was created in 2015 by Rachel Gerber, former denominational minister for faith formation (2014-2017), who used the space to host webinars, podcasts and other online gatherings for faith formation leaders. The original website closed permanently in 2017, due to hackers.
The Gathering Place is making a comeback with a new site at the same web address (thegatheringplace.us) and has three upcoming virtual gatherings scheduled. According to Shana Peachey Boshart, denominational minister of faith formation, three webinars are slated per semester—two focused on resourcing formation leaders and the third an opportunity for conversation on a relevant topic. All webinars are free, but participants must preregister to access them.
“My hope is to equip faith formation leaders with ideas they can then share with others in their congregation,” Peachey Boshart says. “This way, we can make peacemaking strategies accessible to Jesus-followers at all ages and stages.”
The first webinar of 2019 is called “#MakePeace: Social Media Shalom” and will take place Thursday, Feb. 21, 1 p.m. EST/12 p.m. CST. Pastor and writer Osheta Moore will share strategies for peacemaking in the digital realm. Those interested can register at The Gathering Place. The 90-minute webinar will also be recorded and available for viewing afterward.
“Even though social media has opened a whole new world to many people who would otherwise feel isolated, the potential for harm and conflict is always present,” Moore writes about the webinar. “What would it look like if you embodied the love of Jesus every time you logged on to your favorite platform?”
Moore is author of the new book Shalom Sistas: Living Wholeheartedly in a Brokenhearted World, published by Herald Press, and will also be a featured seminar presenter at #MennoCon19 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Two more webinars are planned in the coming months. Convention planners Scott Hartman, Sarah Chase and Peachey Boshart will share what’s new at the upcoming convention and answer questions in the “What to expect at #MennoCon19” webinar. “This will be especially helpful for youth pastors, sponsors or anyone coming to convention for the first time,” Peachey Boshart says.
In April, Peachey Boshart will host a webinar about planning baptism-instruction classes. It will feature a panel of pastors who are doing interesting things with baptism classes, as well as additional resources.
“I have a lot more ideas on how we can grow and expand The Gathering Place going forward,” Peachey Boshart says.