Plenary Session Presentations

Annual Gathering 2018

The following are the plenary session presentations for Annual Gathering 2018. For more information, see the links at the bottom of the page. 

Friday evening, 7:00 p.m.

Alex SiderAmid the Pains: Christianity, Disability, Healing

J. Alexander Sider, PhD

Christian narratives about human illness and impairment often give persons with disabilities two options: miraculous healing or heroic suffering. These narratives create the impression that with great faith or effort persons with disabilities can overcome physical limitations and social barriers, but these same narratives often ignore discrimination and disabling social policies. Alex Sider will explore resources within the Christian tradition for framing human illness, impairment and disability–and, by extension, healing–as fundamental matters of social justice.


Saturday morning, 8:45 a.m.

Beth TonerThe Healing Power of Story

Beth Toner, RN, MSN, MJ

Beth will explore the intersection of our own story with those of our patients/clients–and how those stories have the power to help us heal others, and ourselves. Beth will draw upon insights from Libby Caes, a retired chaplain from Wisconsin who needed to withdraw due to illness.




Saturday evening, 7:00 p.m.

William SwartleyPacifist in a War Zone

Experiences in a forward surgical hospital near Mosul, Iraq

William Swartley, CRNA MS

It is rare for a Mennonite pacifist to have an opportunity to work in a war zone. Bill Swartley will describe his experience working in a surgical hospital near Mosul, Iraq in June of 2017 with the relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse. Included will be a review of the religious and political environment, images of the facilities, and stories of patients who presented for care. He will also share his response as a Mennonite to short-term work in a setting of prolonged violence, and how that response could relate to life in the church in the United States.

Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m.

Paul LeichtySalvation: Therapy, Cure, and Health

Paul D. Leichty, MDiv

The stories of Jesus’ healings in the gospel accounts are central to a Christian understanding of healing and health. Against the backdrop of his personal recovery from a December 2016 heart attack, Paul Leichty will examine passages from Mark chapters 3 and 5 and see how the words used in the underlying Greek text reveal a richness of meaning that informs our ministries of healing today.


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