Trauma, Resilience, and Reimagining Ministry

It was a privilege for me to take part in the Pastors and Leaders Conference hosted by Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana. I appreciated the sessions on trauma and resilience by professor and author Joni Sancken based on her most recent book, All Our Griefs to Bear: Responding with Resilience After Collective Trauma. My presentations focused on reimagining ministry—drawing on the ministries of Jesus and Elijah, with stories from my experience as a pastor.

For a report on the conference, please see Leaders explore reimagining ministry in times of collective trauma by Virginia A. Hostetler. For recordings of the keynote sessions, please keep reading.

I immediately connected with Joni’s first session since she began with a breath prayer from Holy Listening with Breath, Body, and the Spirit by Whitney R. Simpson. I didn’t know Joni planned to start that way, but I’m very familiar with the book since I reviewed it on my blog when the book was first released. Then Joni read “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye. I didn’t know she planned to do that either, but it was another welcome connection, since I’ve heard the poet speak at the Christian Scholars’ Conference, recognized the poem, and have mentioned Naomi Shihab Nye on my blog too.

Here’s that first keynote session with Joni Sancken:

My first keynote session took place the following morning. My tech check was at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, which meant 6:30 a.m. for me on Pacific Time. Good thing I can be an early bird when I want to be!

Here are the links to the other sessions if you’re interested:

Thank you to AMBS for an excellent conference with about 150 people in person and another 30 online, a full slate of workshops and small group opportunities both in person and online. And I enjoyed the goodie package sent to all online participants with a candle, notebook, pen, and even a bit of chocolate!


For more encouragement and resources on doing ministry better:

Author: April Yamasaki

I currently serve as resident author with a liturgical worship community, edit a quarterly devotional magazine, write online and in print publications, and often speak in churches and other settings. Published books include On the Way with Jesus, Four Gifts, Sacred Pauses, and other books on Christian living. Websites: and

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