Seminary focuses on providing distance programming
by Annette Brill Bergstresser
ELKHART, Indiana (Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) — Following a program review in the spring of 2016, an evaluation of program registration numbers, and prayerful discernment, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) leaders reached a decision to close the AMBS–Kansas Center, effective Dec. 31, 2016.
A reception to honor the ministry of the AMBS–Kansas Center will be held Sunday, March 12, 2017,
3:30–4:30 p.m., with words of gratitude and blessing at 4 p.m., at the Western District Conference Offices, 2517 N. Main St., North Newton, Kansas.
The AMBS–Kansas Center first opened in the summer of 2014 at the Western District Conference office in North Newton with the goal of providing credit and non-credit learning options for church leaders in the region. The AMBS campus is located in Elkhart, Indiana.
According to Rebecca Slough, AMBS academic dean, registration numbers for the Kansas Center events “demonstrated that the region is well resourced by other Mennonite and Anabaptist-related organizations.”
“AMBS will continue to serve students interested in pursuing graduate-level studies for ministry through our growing and appreciated MDiv Connect program,” she noted. (MDiv Connect, which began in the fall of 2014, is a distance education program that combines online and hybrid courses.) “Our Church Leadership Center programming will serve those seeking ministry formation through our non-degree educational programs, short courses and webinars.”
Slough said that AMBS leaders anticipate continuing collaboration with the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) and hope that the seminary can partner occasionally with Bethel College in North Newton, Hesston (Kansas) College, South Central Conference, Western District Conference and other groups to provide resources that do not duplicate opportunities already available in the region.
She expressed gratitude for AMBS–Kansas Center Coordinator Katherine Goerzen’s leadership from July 2014 until December 2016. Slough and AMBS Dean of Lifelong Learning Jewel Gingerich Longenecker, both of whom are located in Elkhart, worked closely with Goerzen and an administrative team in North Newton to coordinate the Kansas Center offerings.
Slough also noted the seminary’s history of collaboration with Western District and South Central conferences in central Kansas, which formally began in 1980 when the conference-based Great Plains Seminary Education Program was established. This program was followed by the AMBS–Great Plains extension site, which closed June 30, 2014, as the AMBS–Kansas Center was beginning.
“We thank Western District and South Central conference congregations and leaders for the many ways that you have supported AMBS and theological education in central Kansas over several decades,” Slough wrote in a letter that was sent to conference leaders, Hesston College and Bethel College in December 2016 about the decision to close the center. She invited their prayers and continued engagement with AMBS programming.