STEP Student Reflection (Year 1) by Elvin Kennel
By Elvin Kennel
In my faith journey, I have experienced several times where I felt that God was clearly nudging me into a “path shift.” Three years ago, I felt a renewed nudge that my ministry was to shift from that of a schoolteacher and administrator into another ministry. After thirty-six years of my ministry in the education setting, I began to meditate and pray as to where God might be taking me. I sensed the shift might involve pastoral ministry in a congregation and chaplaincy but it was unclear. During that time, Psalm 16: 5-6 became my prayer and petition. “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” I reflected on my past work in education with joy and gratitude but was willing to explore what God had for me moving forward. I met in discernment with many people who helped me clarify my direction. My wife and children blessed and supported my exploration.
I began to take pastoral care and chaplaincy classes through Eastern Mennonite Seminary. During this time, I became more fully aware of the STEP program and felt it would offer an excellent foundation for my new associate pastor and chaplain role. Joining STEP was an excellent decision as it has offered me spiritual direction, deeper Bible understanding, and camaraderie with a dozen others in my cohort. Yes, I am one of the older ones, who openly follow and seek God’s direction. Although the program takes time and commitment, it has been worth the sacrifice. I have been blessed by a financial grant from the LMC conference and a church that has helped support me both financially and prayerfully, as they have seen the value of the STEP program. As the Holy Spirit continues to guide my paths, I can look back and see that the Spirit’s leading brought me to this point. Once again, God granted me “boundary lines in pleasant places.”
Elvin N. Kennel lives in Parkesburg, Pa. with his wife, Wendy. He has two grown, married children and one grandchild. He was principal at Lancaster Mennonite High School (2010-2020). He is a chaplain at Maple Farm in Akron, and is an associate pastor at Parkesburg Mennonite Church. He enjoys reading, sports, gardening, and visiting his mountain cabin. He seeks to embrace and share each day with hope and joy.