Anabaptist Short Courses

Anabaptist short courses provide a way for new Anabaptists and people seeking to deepen their ministry in the way of Jesus to engage Anabaptist history, thought and witness. Followers of Jesus today discover each other and the early Anabaptists as kindred spirits through their study of theology and history. Participants explore the resources of the Anabaptist witness across five centuries as a source of inspiration and guidance in our witness today.

Anabaptist Short Courses are offered on a rotating basis:

  • Exploring Anabaptist History and Theology
  • Understanding Anabaptist Approaches to Scripture: What's Different and Why?
  • Engaging John Howard Yoder's Theology Today
  • Historia y Teologia de Anabautism
  • Understanding and Managing Congregational Conflict
  • Participation, Power and Process: Why Polity Matters
  • Exploring Peace and Justice in the Bible

See this year's offerings below.

How Short Courses Work

Courses are offered online and last six weeks each. Readings and discussion are comparable to seminary-level work, assuming critical thinking skills and some previous academic study. No academic credit will be awarded, but Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available to those who complete course requirements.

These online courses involve readings from textbooks and online articles and written discussion. They do not involve live video conversations (as in a webinar) or other activities in which all class members come together at one time. These courses to not meet any requirements in the AMBS Master of Divinity or Master of Arts programs of study.

2016-2017 Course Offerings

Exploring Anabaptist History and Theology

Taught by Jamie Pitts, PhD
September 14–October 25, 2016
Early registration deadline: August 24

+ Read course description

This course covers the birth and development of the Anabaptist movements in the sixteenth century, giving special attention to their theological, social, and political contexts. In addition to surveying the history and theology of the first Anabaptists, the course looks at various interpretations of "Anabaptism" and its meaning today. Students will be challenged to draw connections between the sixteenth century and their own life and ministry.

After a general introduction to the material, we will look at the history of early Anabaptism in the three primary central European areas where it first developed: Switzerland, south Germany and Austria, and the Netherlands and north Germany. We will also see how Anabaptism spread through persecution and mission. Many Anabaptists settled and thrived in relatively safe places such as Moravia.

Studying this material will give us insight into the diversity of the early Anabaptist movements. Students will be challenged to offer an account of Anabaptism and its meaning for today that accounts for its historical diversity. We will end our time by examining some of the theological topics Anabaptists held most dearly: Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and discipleship.

Jamie Pitts, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Anabaptist Studies at AMBS.

Transforming Congregational Conflict and Communication

Taught by Betty Pries, CMed, MTS, PhD Candidate
April 12 to May 23, 2017
Early registration deadline March 22, 2017

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Conflict in the congregation is one of the most difficult experiences pastors and lay leaders will encounter while in ministry. Conflict can destroy congregations. Done well, however, engaging differences can be a sign of vitality, energy and spiritual maturity. Drawing from Biblical, theological, practical and spiritual sources, this course will explore the possibilities and pitfalls of courageously engaging in differences within congregational life and in building congregational cultures that nurture the tender balance between honesty and kindness and that generate faithfulness and joy.

Betty Pries, PhD, AMBS Sessional Faculty

Previous Course Offerings

Exploring Peace and Justice in the Bible

Taught by Mary Schertz, PhD

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In this class we will study six pertinent biblical passages (three OT and three NT) and reflect individually and collectively on what these texts contribute to a robust and biblically based practice of peace and justice today. These texts will also help us focus on several key issues such as the relationship between peace and justice, how God acts for peace and justice, and the question of how should we act--nonviolence, nonresistance, active resistance or ...? Active student participation in the text studies and active reading of the short commentary provided will contribute to lively discussions of these vital issues.

Mary Schertz, Professor of New Testament at AMBS


Participation, Power and Process; Why Polity Matters

Taught by Janeen Bertsche Johnson, MDiv and Willard Metzger, DMin

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This course will provide students with an overview of the structure, organization, governance, foundational documents, vision and goals, decision-making processes, leadership and identity markers of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada. In this course students will come to understand what polity is and why it matters. We will consider strengths and challenges that arise in a Mennonite polity as the church makes decision and tends relationships among all the parts of the church. Students will also engage the question of how polity is shaped to support the church in mission. The overall goal of this course is to increase our awareness and understanding of the workings of the Mennonite Church, so that we may be more effective in our participation in and interactions with the church.

Janeen Bertsche Johnson is AMBS Campus Pastor and Administrative Faculty, and Willard Metzger is Mennonite Church Canada Executive Director


Understanding Anabaptist Approaches to Scripture: What's Different and Why?

Taught by Loren Johns, PhD

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In the 16th century, Anabaptists approached Scripture in ways that were both similar to and different from their fellow Catholics and other Protestants. This course will seek to understand those similarities and differences in light of today. Which of those approaches might we repudiate today, or nuance, or embrace whole-heartedly? What historical and theological developments in the centuries since the 16th have influenced today’s Mennonites more profoundly than did the Reformation? Drawing on the wealth of personal experience and wisdom among the students, this class will be highly interactive.

Loren also will lead a webinar on Understanding Anabaptist Approaches to Scripture, February 18, 7 pm Eastern. If you cannot commit to taking this six-week course, consider joining the webinar.

Loren Johns, PhD, is Professor of New Testament at AMBS.

Engaging John Howard Yoder's Theology Today

Taught by Gayle Gerber Koontz, PhD

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Yoder is best known for his theological defense of Christian pacifism, but his contributions to Anabaptist Mennonite thought are wide-ranging—from ecclesiology to eschatology.  This short course invites participants to discuss and evaluate for their relevance today some of Yoder’s writings on two topics:  1) the nature and mission of the church, especially in relation to interchurch relations and to the changing global church  and 2) nonviolence, especially in relation to challenges from liberation theologies and from policing concerns. This short course assumes that participants will already be generally familiar with The Politics of Jesus. Some attention will be given to the intersection of Yoder’s life and thought, including sexuality.

Gayle Gerber Koontz, PhD, is Retired Professor of Theology and Ethics at AMBS.

Understanding and Managing Congregational Conflict

Taught by David B. Miller

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This course seeks to equip participants for skillful, transformative leadership that can provide the insight and guidance essential to making situations of conflict opportunities for growth and learning rather than division and alienation.

David B. Miller, D. Min., is Associate Professor of Missional Leadership Development at AMBS.


La Historia y Teología Anabautista

Instructor: Jamie Pitts

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En este curso estudiamos el nacimiento y desarrollo de los movimientos anabautistas en el siglo XVI, dando énfasis al contexto teológico, social y político. El curso da un resumen de la historia y la teología de los primeros anabautistas y además investiga varias respuestas al gran reto actual de cómo entender y vivir como “anabautista” hoy en día. Los estudiantes serán desafiados a buscar conexiones entre el siglo XVI y sus propias vidas y ministerios. Obtenga más información e incríbase aquí.

Jamie Pitts, Ph.D., Profesor Asistente de Estudios Anabautistas de AMBS

Exploring Peace and Justice in the Bible

Taught by Perry Yoder, Ph.D.

+ Read course description

In this class we will study pertinent biblical passages and hermeneutic presuppositions in order to reflect on peace and justice practice today. We will focus on several key issues such as the relationship between peace and justice, how does God act for peace and justice, and how should we act--nonviolence, nonresistance, active resistance or ...? Participants also are expected to ask significant questions which will shape the content of each week’s work.

Perry B. Yoder, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, AMBS.

Before you register

Online learning is not for everyone. To help evaluate your skills and abilities to benefit from an online course, please follow this link to a quiz provided by Washington Online. Question 5 asks about available time to devote to the course. Short courses require, on average, three to five hours per week rather than the 10-15 hours mentioned in the quiz. With this in mind, we encourage you to take the quiz and find out whether you are a good candidate for online learning.


Register online for 2016-2017 short courses

Continuing education units

No academic credit will be awarded but completion of course requirements can earn the participant 2.4 CEUs.


  • $200 per course before the early registration deadline;
  • $250 per course after the early registration deadline.
  • Participants should also expect to pay for one or two textbooks.


Before the early registration deadline,  cancellations will be refunded, less $50. After this date, cancellations will be granted credit, less $50, toward a future short course within one year. Refund credits must be requested within 1 week of the beginning of the event.

Online course procedures and requirements

You will need:

  • An email account
  • A web browser
  • A word processing program
  • Basic computer skills
  • A PDF file reader, such as Adobe Reader
  • One or two textbooks selected by the professor, available from the bookstore at AMBS or from a web source

For more information

Contact lhnafziger@

Read about experiences of students in the short course on Anabaptist Approaches to Scripture.