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Ventures in Christian Discipleship

Equipping lay people of all ages and education levels with skills and understandings for faithful and dynamic Christian living, action, and leadership with special emphasis on small congregations.

2023-2024 Courses

“Supporting Those with Mental Illness in Your Congregation and Community (2-part course)”
Monday, September 18 and Monday, September 25, 2023
6:00 – 8:00 pm Central
Presenter: David Eckert
.4 CEU credit
Course Description and Presenter Information

Note: Part 1 of this course is not required to attend Part 2.

Part 1: Supporting Those with Mental Illness in Your Congregation and Community. This training will provide clergy and faith community members approaches to making their congregations a welcoming and supportive space for people with mental illness. Particular attention will be given to public communication, relationship development and partnering with external mental health providers.

Part 2: Ministering to Those in Crisis: Creating an Internal System of Care. This training will equip church staff in developing an internal process for supporting people in their congregation or community impacted by abuse, mental health struggles, self-harm or thoughts of suicide.

Dave Eckert is the Founder and Director of Intersect, an initiative within Access Services that supports those at the intersection of faith and mental health through consultation, training, and the fostering of collaboration between faith communities and mental health providers. He has spent over 20 years working for Access within various roles including Director of a Mobile Psychiatric Rehabilitation program and agency Chaplain. Dave is also an ordained minister, serving as one of the pastors at Grace Community Church in Chalfont, PA for the last 15 years. Dave is a certified trainer in the areas of suicide intervention and psychiatric rehabilitation and is also a co-author of the Opioid Response Network’s “Opioid Use Disorder Toolkit for Faith-Based Community Leaders”. Dave holds degrees in Social Work, Biblical Studies, and Divinity. He lives with his wife and three children in Montgomery County, PA.

“From Ukraine to Central Kansas: A Positive Refugee Experience ”
Saturday, October 28, 2023
10:00 am to noon Central
Presenter: McPherson Church of the Brethren Welcomers Group
.2 CEU credit
Course Description and Presenter Information

Settling refugees has been going on in the United States for centuries. In mid-west Kansas, we felt the shock of dismay just as strongly as most when Russia invaded Ukraine. A brief newspaper article alerted a member of the McPherson Church of the Brethren to a U.S. government program called “Uniting for Ukraine” that allowed for Ukrainian refugees to settle in our country.  In this Ventures course, members of the McPherson Church of the Brethren Welcomers Group will discuss the journey our church and community have been and are currently on to welcome Ukrainian families to McPherson. Perhaps your church community would be interested in helping settle refugees from Ukraine or other countries. Please join us as we share what we have learned and the joy and blessings we have experienced in being “Jesus in the (international) Neighborhood.”

In the fall of 2022, the McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren Welcomers Group formed to sponsor and assist Ukrainian refugees coming to the U.S. A year later the group is 18 members strong and is currently sponsoring nine refugees in McPherson. The congregation has provided financial support, donated items to furnish homes, helped with English classes and job applications and much more. The group has assisted a total of 17 refugees since it began.

“Meet the Matriarchs”
Saturday, November 18, 2023
9:00 am – 1:00 pm Central
Presenter: Bobbi Dykema
.3 CEU credit
Course Description and Presenter Information

In Matthew 22, as he is teaching the disciples about the resurrection to come, Jesus reminds them of his and their connection to their ancestors in the Jewish faith, describing God as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” It is both a biological and a spiritual lineage to which Christians, Muslims, and Jews to this day lay claim. But the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, did not live out their lives of faith and courage alone. They were partnered by powerful and faithful matriarchs: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah, as well as several additional women through whom the promise made to Abraham was borne: Hagar, Zilpah, and Bilhah.

Each of these strong and powerful women are worth getting to know (better), not only through the scriptural texts, but through works of visual and literary art that they have inspired. In this course we will spend time with the matriarchs as they have been envisioned in picture and word, with the hope of strengthening our own faith and courage along the way.

Bobbi Dykema is pastor at First Church of the Brethren in Springfield, Ill. and serves on the pastoral team of the Living Stream Church of the Brethren. She also teaches humanities at Lincoln Land Community College, serves on the Church of the Brethren Standing Committee, and is Convener of Womaen’s Caucus. Bobbi completed her master’s degree at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and a Ph.D. in Art and Religion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. She lives in Springfield with her husband Tim and their cats Saskia and Gennara.

Course Registration


All course times are 9 am-noon Central Time unless indicated otherwise.
There is a suggested $25 donation per course.

Archive of Courses | Access to Previous Recordings

About the Courses

Registering online is the preferred method.  There is no charge for courses; however, a suggested donation is invited.

Ventures courses, while not for college credit, offer high-quality instruction. The goal of the program is to empower lay people, especially in smaller congregations, to more effectively carry out the work of discipleship, following in Jesus’ footsteps to transform ourselves and the world. You are invited to journey with others on this new pathway sponsored by McPherson College.

Technology Requirements for Live Courses: If you can surf the web, you will be able to participate in our online courses! For the best experience, we recommend that you have a computer with high-speed internet connection and external powered speakers. We encourage several people to share a computer to participate in a course together! No camera or microphone needed for most courses.