History of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary

The history of AMBS is the story of cooperation, as two Mennonite groups established ministry training programs and reached out to strengthen those programs by joining with others.

Mennonite Biblical Seminary (MBS), one of the two seminaries in the history of AMBS, comes from a long tradition of theological education. In the late 1800s, several efforts emerged among Mennonites in the central U.S., including Wadsworth Institute, Wadsworth, Ohio; Mennonite Seminary in Halstead, Kan., which became Bethel College; and Witmarsum Theological Seminary, the Bible department of Bluffton University, Bluffton, Ohio. Inheriting the mission of these movements, Mennonite Biblical Seminary began in Chicago in 1945. MBS students—from Canada, the U.S. and beyond North America—shared classes with Church of the Brethren students from Bethany Theological Seminary.

Goshen College, Goshen, Ind., which began in 1894, established a Bachelor of Theology curriculum in 1933. The Bible department became Goshen Biblical Seminary  (GBS)in 1946.

These two schools began an association in 1958 when MBS moved to Elkhart, Ind. The Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary partnership continued to grow and in 1969 they joined on the Elkhart campus. AMBS took the step of incorporating as one seminary in 1994.

Although both seminaries represented Mennonite denominations, AMBS has always welcomed students of all faiths, coming from primarily—but not necessarily—Christian traditions. Now, as Anabaptist expressions of following Jesus Christ are being discovered and reclaimed by a wide variety of people around the globe, the AMBS learning community lives into this tradition with the new name, adopted in August 2012: Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary.

Partnerships and cooperation continue to be part of the story. This includes the Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education (SCUPE) in Chicago, of which AMBS is a founding member. Cooperative efforts with Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, Man., strengthen the ties between Mennonites in Canada and the U.S. A 2012 partnership with Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (G-ETS) in Evanston, Ill., reestablished a long-standing relationship with the United Methodist Church. Theological and ministry programs around the world foster rich exchanges; for example, students from Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya, study at AMBS, and students from AMBS regularly study at SEMILLA, the Latin American Seminary in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

The strong campus-based theological education curriculum, the distance and off-campus learning opportunities and the wide array of life-long learning programs all are aimed at the primary goal of AMBS: to educate followers of Jesus Christ to be leaders for God’s reconciling mission in the world.