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 (Ohio) Institute; Mennonite Seminary in Halstead, Kansas, 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 (Indiana) College, 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, Indiana. The Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries partnership continued to grow, and in 1969 GBS joined MBS on the Elkhart campus. The step of incorporating as one seminary came 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 its new name, adopted in August 2012: Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary.

Partnerships and cooperation continue to be part of the story. Cooperative efforts with Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, Manitoba, strengthen the ties between Mennonites in Canada and the U.S. A 2012 partnership with Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (G-ETS) in Evanston, Illinois, reestablished a long-standing relationship with The United Methodist Church. Through partnerships with Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan; Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Virginia; Goshen College; and Goshen College's Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center in Wolf Lake, Indiana; students have access to additional educational resources.

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

See also: AMBS entry on Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO)