Mary E. Klassen
The first day of classes signaled more than the beginning of a new school year; it also signaled the roll out of a new name as Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary became Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary.
AMBS faculty, students, staff and friends who did not need to be in afternoon classes or in their offices enjoyed a moment of celebration at the end of the “birth day party” for Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary on August 28. The seminary community and friends from the nearby Mennonite offices were invited to wear a t-shirt with the seminary’s new visual identity to help spread the news of the seminary’s new name.“Much of our name is continuous with our past; we continue as Mennonite Biblical Seminary,” Sara Wenger Shenk, AMBS president, said at the beginning of her morning chapel message. “But there are new ways we are owning our identity and living into our mission as an Anabaptist seminary.”
As with the early Anabaptists, Wenger Shenk reminded the seminary community that “once again there is a renewal going on that is tapping into the vision of Jesus and who Jesus calls us to be as disciples who radically serve as ambassadors of peace, witnesses of reconciliation and ministers of a new covenant.”
The term Associated refers to a history in which two seminaries, one from the former Mennonite Church and one from the former General Conference Mennonite Church, came together to form one institution. The name change “signals a pivotal moment for a deep reclaiming of our mission to educate followers of Jesus Christ to be leaders for God’s reconciling mission in the world,” Wenger Shenk said.
Then Wenger Shenk named four ways in which the seminary provides opportunities for people to grow to become trustworthy leaders of communities of shalom: to be deeply formed by the biblical story, becoming interpreters who can proclaim the biblical story with Christ as “the center of gravity”; to become fluent in the language of faith—theology, able to talk clearly and persuasively about what we believe and why; to be astute discerners of culture who can guide discernment around difficult issues; and to grow in spiritual maturity, willing to be honest with our longings, failures, and joys. These qualities are weakening in many of our faith communities which makes the mission of an Anabaptist biblical seminary ever more critically important, Wenger Shenk said.
The day of celebration began with an early morning prayer service. Gathering outdoors in the bright morning light, 23 faculty, staff and students shared Scriptures that have been encouraging during times of transition and change.
A “birth day” party in the afternoon introduced the seminary’s new visual identity. The new AMBS logo reflects themes of worship, community, trinitarian faith, gathering to learn and reaching out to witness and serve. All who attended the party could select a t-shirt with the new visual, with encouragement to wear it to help share the new name with the communities in which each worships, works and lives.
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