Sequential degree arrangement for pastoral formation

Sequential degree arrangement for pastoral formation

Allan Rudy-Froese, AMBS Associate Professor of Christian Proclamation, leads an orientation session for incoming students in the Chapel of the Sermon on the Mount in August 2017. (Credit: Peter Ringenberg)

WATERLOO, Ontario (Conrad Grebel University College and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) — In North American Mennonite theological education, a regional focus is emerging as students prefer to access seminary education closer to home. Uprooting families and finding employment for a spouse in another country have become increasingly difficult.

To address this reality for students and to serve the changing needs of the church, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in Elkhart, Indiana, and Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario, have established a collaborative arrangement in which Canadian students can use the same course credits to earn sequential degrees from both Grebel and AMBS.

Working together, Rebecca Slough, Academic Dean at AMBS, and Jeremy Bergen, Director of Theological Studies at Grebel, have detailed a clearly articulated path for students who want to complete a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree at Grebel/University of Waterloo and then transfer those credits to AMBS to complete a Master of Divinity (MDiv).

With this arrangement, it is possible for all courses taken in Grebel’s 48-credit-hour MTS program to be transferred to AMBS’s 80-credit-hour MDiv program. Students can remain in Canada and complete the MDiv through part-time study at a distance through AMBS’s MDiv Connect program — which requires two or three weeklong visits to Elkhart each year — or move to Elkhart to study full time on campus.

“This is good news for the church,” remarked incoming Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) Church Leadership Minister Marilyn Rudy-Froese. “Forming and training pastors at both Grebel and AMBS means that these students benefit from the rich resources of both institutions and have more opportunities to reflect on what it means to be a leader in the church today. Our hope is to see more students explore pastoral training and even attract new people to Anabaptism and MCEC leadership opportunities.”

Rudy-Froese recently team-taught a course in the MTS program called Church and Ministry, which has been a core part of the MTS program of pastoral formation and education for 30 years. In that time, over one third of graduates have served as pastors or church leaders.

“It is now possible for Canadian students to receive both an MTS and an MDiv from Mennonite institutions without needing to relocate to the USA,” noted Bergen. “This option will enrich formation for ministry for a wider range of students.”

Each institution will administer financial aid to its own enrolled students. Grebel continues to offer a full-time tuition scholarship for Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents, in addition to many other scholarships and funding opportunities. At AMBS, Canadian students pay tuition at par and qualify for several scholarships; need-based financial aid is also available.

Grebel President Marcus Shantz expressed hope that “this arrangement will become a successful example of Mennonite schools working together to develop leaders for the church.”

AMBS President Sara Wenger Shenk agreed.

“This collaboration between Grebel and AMBS retains the integrity of each degree, strengthens binational church relationships, realizes economic efficiencies and draws on the best from both schools to offer holistic pastoral formation for Canadian students,” she said.

Prospective students can visit each institution’s website for admissions information.