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Dreams and demands compete for remaining time


March 22, 2004
-by Dan Dyck


Rudy and Helen Baergen

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Winnipeg, Man.— Dreams for the future and the demands of the present are crowding Rudy and Helen Baergen’s schedule during the final months of their Mennonite Church Canada Witness assignment in Colombia.

As the only full-time professors at the seminary here, the requests that keep arriving are a testament to their gifts.

Seventy-four students took a course in theology last year. The Baergens have done considerable teaching in Bogotá’s outlying areas – in places like La Mesa, Medellin – and are planning to go to Barranquilla, Armenia, and as far away as Venezuela in the next weeks. Rudy is planning to complete preparation of 2004 second semester courses, while Helen is completing the material for a distance course in reading theological English, before they leave. On top of this, Rudy will be acting Director of the seminary until April 30 while current director Alix Lozano is on leave.

In addition to the demands of each working day, a vision for a pre-university level School of Leader­ship is emerging. The goal is to have a two-year de-centralized, inter-disciplinary program which would provide training in church work, mission and evangelism, community development and conflict transformation. “We have been pleased by the level of interest within the Anabaptist community for this program,” says Rudy. Next steps are to finalize the curriculum, put administration in place, and deal with the financial implications.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the seminary is facing a challenge in the near future. There are no plans to find successors for the Baergens. Instead, Mennonite Church Canada Witness is planning to fund the position of a full-time Latin American position at the seminary. “The dream is to have a Director, an Academic Dean and several teaching staff on full time salary,” says Rudy.

The Baergens will move to Winnipeg this summer where Rudy will take on the pastoral leadership of Bethel Mennonite Church. As they near the end of their term, the Baergens feel blessed by the many relationships they have established – the many students and fellow church workers with whom they have worked and shared.

“We feel affirmed that our work and presence has been appreciated in this difficult context. We pray for sufficient energy and wisdom to do our endings well,” said Rudy.