April 23, 2020
MB Churches of Canada,
Since 1955, the Mennonite Brethren churches in North America have invested in a denominational Seminary for the training and formation of our leaders. For most of those years the Seminary was in Fresno; in the past decade in Canada at ACTS and CMU. Presently, the Seminary trains more than 100 MB students in degree programs across the country, more if we count the other leadership events and workshops we hold.
Graduate theological education is expensive, and despite working within a consortium at ACTS which allows us to operate at a fraction of what a standalone seminary would be, the operating costs are high. Aside from student tuition, we, as do other seminaries, count on donations and support from conferences, churches, and individual donors to make up the difference.
The recent story of MB Seminary has been a mix of both ministry success and financial struggle. Along with ongoing teaching with ACTS and CMU, we have experienced the ACTS World Campus grow more quickly than expected, and we have seen Missional Leadership Training with Multiply flourish in multiple countries. God is at work!
COVID-19 brought new urgency to the Seminary’s financial situation. After careful analysis of the financial reality, the Seminary Board had no choice but to declare a state of Financial Exigency, which is another way of saying that we will need to take extraordinary measures, including a reduction in payroll, to remain viable. Our analysis has been independently confirmed by the Seminary’s Auditor, Manning-Elliot. A Financial Plan is being developed that will transition the Seminary into a sustainable centre for both graduate theological education and the training and equipping of church, ministry, and marketplace leaders across Canada and around the world. This plan will include the achievement of a balanced budget within two years.
Even during crisis, MB Seminary remains committed to its mission to serve our churches, ministries, and leaders by “educating and equipping men and women to help lead the church in reaching Canada and beyond with the Good News of Jesus Christ.” The crisis brings an opportunity to re-envision the Seminary so that it will be financially sustainable for years to come, and we invite you to continue to pray for and financially support MB Seminary.
If you have questions or suggestions, we also invite you to connect with the president or board chair.
Ron Penner, MB Seminary Board Chair