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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.

2021-2022 Courses

“Peace, Violence, and Nonviolence”
Thursday, February 24 and Thursday, March 3, 2022
6:00pm Central Time
4 Hour Course split into two sections
Presenter: Katy Gray Brown & Virginia Rendler
Course Description and Presenter Information

Peace studies began as an undergraduate field at Manchester University in 1948.  The program’s mission is to provide people with a critical understanding of the causes and consequences of violence and injustice, equipped with both theoretical and practical knowledge of nonviolent ways of resolving conflict and promoting justice.  Peace studies prepares people to be capable, confident, and courageous in the work of building a peaceful and just world.

This course provides a groundwork for the central concepts in peace studies. We will consider definitions of power; different forms of violence and their interconnection, with a particular discussion of militarism and zealous nationalism as forms of fundamentalism; and central concepts of nonviolence (both principled and strategic). As a discussion-based course, there will be opportunity for participants to engage not only with the material but with one another as they explore examples of and alternatives to violence, nationalism, and militarism. Participants will leave with an understanding of the collaborative and community-building components of nonviolence.

Virginia Rendler and Katy Gray Brown direct the peace studies program at Manchester University.

“From Tragedy to Community”
Thursday, March 31, 2022
8:00pm Central Time
2 Hour Course
Presenter: Andrew Sampson
Course Description and Presenter Information

Churches are a part of their communities and connections can be created through unfortunate or tragic circumstances. For the Modesto congregation, this happened when a young man was shot and killed by police on church property shortly after Christmas in 2020. Over the year since that dreadful day, new friends and links were made as the congregation has connected with his family and friends by attending vigils and protests together, walking the labyrinth, and even cleaning graffiti together near the location where he was shot. Not everything has gone smoothly and there have been missteps and mistakes made along the way. In this course, we will talk together about how church congregations and church leaders/pastors can work through situations that are difficult to be prepared for in ways that build trust and community for everyone involved.

Andrew Sampson lives in Modesto, California with his wife, Allison, their two sons, and a menagerie of animals. When not pastoring at the Modesto Church of the Brethren, or being used as furniture by one of their English Mastiffs, he enjoys exploring the outdoors, attempting to catch a fish, and cooking.

“Spirituality on the Screen”
Monday, May 2, 2022
6:00pm Central Time
2 Hour Course
Presenter: Walt Wiltschek
Course Description and Presenter Information

Even while culture seems to be drifting away from organized religion according to many recent surveys, faith pops up all over the place in television and film and elsewhere in media culture. How are God and other parts of faith being portrayed? And are these intersections a good thing? Join us to dig in deeper and discuss together.

Walt Wiltschek started last year as part-time district executive minister for Illinois & Wisconsin and currently lives in Lombard, Ill. He also does part-time chaplaincy work for Illinois Wesleyan University. He previously served as pastor of Easton (Md.) Church of the Brethren, campus pastor at Manchester University in Indiana, and editor of Messenger magazine, for which he still does some writing and editing. He enjoys traveling, camp ministry, puns and wordplay, and cheering for various sports teams.


Spring 2022 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.