April 3, 2019
MB Seminary has experienced meaningful growth in most areas of our ministry, whether it is graduate education or church-based training. Unfortunately, however, we have also experienced a number of deficit budgets in recent years, and this is not sustainable, regardless of how successful we have been in almost every area of ministry.
Expenses have been tightly managed, even as we have launched new initiatives, but unfortunately, overall revenue has not increased. Conference funding has been reduced to half, church giving has remained relatively unchanged, and individual financial support has increased but not at the rate we have budgeted for. Our current trajectory will result in unrestricted funds being depleted within two years. We have reached a point of financial exigency, and we need to make very difficult changes now so that MB Seminary will continue and will be in a position to grow again in the future as revenue starts to match ministry demand and opportunity.
One of the core values from MB Seminary’s vision document is a “Sustainable Financial Framework”. The 2019/20 budget represents year one of a two-year strategy to achieve a balanced budget by the end of the 2020/21 fiscal year. We are using both revenue growth as well as expense reduction approaches. Collectively, these adjustments will bring our annual revenue and expenses into alignment so that MB Seminary will have a sustainable and successful future.
We are making a number of personnel changes (in addition to two vacancies that we will not fill):
- MinistryLift will be discontinued and Keith Reed will transition to a new position, Director of Church Relations. We will still do a number of “MinistryLift things” but they will be simplified and operate under our MB Seminary brand.
- Terry Kaethler will be our new Director of Advancement (Langley) as of April 23.
- As of May 31, MB Seminary will no longer fund the half-time position in biblical studies specified in the MB Seminary/CMU Affiliation Agreement. This position was filled by Pierre Gilbert, who was seconded to MB Seminary Canadian Mennonite University.
- Bruce Guenther will no longer be Faculty and Associate Dean (Langley) as of June 30.
- Eugene Klassen will no longer be our Development Officer (Langley) as of July 31.
Our intention is for both Pierre Gilbert and Bruce Guenther to be designated as Emeritus faculty and that they continue to be part of the MB Seminary teaching community when possible.
Running with a Limp
As you can imagine, this has been an incredibly difficult process, and saying goodbye to three team members causes deep pain at a number of levels (both individually and collectively). Thinking of the image of a runner who is injured, these changes will result in MB Seminary running with a limp for a season.
Please continue to pray for the people and ministries of the seminary. Please pray for me and our leadership teams as we continue to chart a new course for the seminary, as we more closely connect with churches across the country, and as we pursue our mission to educate and equip men and women to help lead churches and ministries in reaching Canada and beyond with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
[Mark Wessner is President of MB Seminary.