Canada’s newest seminary is striving to develop an ongoing teaching presence in Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (CCMBC).
Through developing new courses and offering non-formal educational initiatives in a variety of formats and settings, Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary (MBBS) Canada supports a growing number of lifelong learning opportunities, says president Bruce Guenther.
“We want our teaching to be integrated into the lives of congregations in visible ways,” says Guenther. “We are not only interested in producing graduates; we are providing church leaders with ongoing training and resources.”
The seminary offers eight diploma, masters and doctoral degree programs through its partnerships with Associated Canadian Theological Schools (ACTS) at Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C. and two degree programs at the Graduate School of Theology and Ministry at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg, Man.
In addition to offering traditional semester courses on the campuses in Langley and Winnipeg, MBBS Canada offers courses in modular and online formats.
“We would like the constituency to consider it unimaginable that MB churches in Canada would not have a seminary of their own,” says Guenther.
Started by CCMBC in 2011, MBBS Canada provides theological training to equip pastors and church leaders, wherever they may serve, to reach people with Christ’s message of hope and redemption. Courses and delivery options are reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure that they meet the needs of congregations and their leaders.
MBBS Canada is committed to making its faculty available to Mennonite Brethren ministries such as MB Mission and the C2C Network and exploring future partnerships with Resourcing Churches and Developing Leaders (formerly Leadership Development) and International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB).
Four new online courses, Mennonite Brethren Convictions, New Testament Theology, Old Testament Theology and Mennonite Brethren Story are being offered for the first time in the 2013-2014 academic year.
These and other courses are designed not only to increase understanding of biblical theology and missiology, but also to increase understanding of the Mennonite Brethren evangelical Anabaptist theological identity.
“Historically, our theological identity has been shaped by the influences from both the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition and the evangelical Protestant tradition,” explains Guenther. “MB’s selectively drew elements from both traditions to create a unique hybrid theology that is articulated in our confession of faith.”
Part of this identity, he says, is a longstanding commitment to mission outreach and an appreciation for education as a vital component of mission strategy.
Although CCMBC is a relatively small denomination in Canada with about 50,000 members and adherents, Guenther says the church’s influence in areas like cross-cultural mission, higher education and church planting is linked to the leaders produced by its longstanding emphasis on biblical and theological education.
“Starting a seminary in Canada emerges from that heritage and experience,” says Guenther. “The challenges created by a rapidly changing culture demand well-equipped pastors and leaders in our churches and church plants.”
Gladys Terichow is the staff writer for the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches