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​(Mennonite Education Agency) — At the Mennonite Education Agency (MEA) board meeting on July 20, 2018, the board approved several schools for accreditation and heard an update from the Mennonite Higher Education Association (MHEA), among other work.​

The next MEA board meeting is scheduled for October 22-28 and will be held at Academia Menonita Betania in Puerto Rico. The Mennonite Mission Network Board will also meet there at the same time. The visit will include service projects and celebrating the 70th anniversary of the school.

Accreditation

The MEA board approved full accreditation reviews for four schools in the Mennonite Schools Council (MSC) network, including Bethany Christian School, Dock Mennonite Academy, Freeman Academy and Quakertown Christian School. The full accreditation review included a self-study review from each school and a site visit by an engagement team. The engagement teams were appointed by AdvancEd, an international school accrediting agency, and MEA appointed one member for each school — typically the head of another MSC school — to provide information and make recommendations to the MEA Accreditation Committee regarding if the school met Anabaptist criteria for MEA accreditation. 

These materials were reviewed by the MEA Accreditation Committee, which was chaired by J. David Yoder and included Linwood Rush, J. Richard Thomas and Elaine Moyer, senior director of MEA. Using MEA’s Anabaptist-Mennonite Faith in Practice in our Schools criteria, they provided a report for each school identifying strengths, growth opportunities and required follow-up actions.

Based on the recommendation of the Accreditation Committee, all four schools were approved for accreditation by the MEA Board of Directors for the period of 2018-2023, the same period of time they are also granted accreditation through AdvancED.

Eastern Mennonite School also underwent a midpoint review, and the MEA board affirmed the school’s review and strategic plan moving forward.

“I want to express my congratulations and affirmation to all the schools that received accreditation and reviews,” said Carlos Romero, executive director of MEA. “These institutions are committed to an Anabaptist identity and faith practices that are core in their educational endeavors.”

Mennonite Higher Education Association

Thomas, who chaired the MHEA Beta edition, provided an update to the board on the work of the MHEA. The MHEA was established in 2018 to strengthen collaboration between Mennonite Church USA-affiliated colleges, universities and seminaries, and between the schools and MEA, to advance Anabaptist educational opportunity, excellence and affordability. The MHEA Beta is chaired by Dick Thomas and members include the presidents of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS), Bethel College, Bluffton University, Eastern Mennonite University, Goshen College and Hesston College, and the executive director of MEA.

The MHEA Beta, launched on February 1, 2018, met through three video conference meetings to get to know each other and to review the purpose, role and activities of MEA as well as the goals of the new MHEA, according to Thomas.

“We gathered and celebrated the current collaborative activities and began to dream of a future where increased collaboration will both increase academic excellence and offerings and make Mennonite higher education increasingly affordable,” said Thomas.

Several sub-committees within MHEA have been appointed to focus on specific areas including accessibility and affordability for Mennonite higher education, faith and human formation and creating a support fees structure for the work of MEA.

The first in-person meeting of MHEA, planned for September 15-17, will focus on relationship-building with the goal of being fully functioning with its elected officers by the end of this meeting.

“Through all of this work it was clear that the schools want a close relationship with the church, and the church wants a close relationship with the schools,” said Thomas. “I believe that MHEA partnering with MEA and Mennonite Church USA will result in stronger schools, a stronger denomination and an increase in our ability to impact our communities and the broader world by offering education grounded in Anabaptist identity and understandings.”​

Contributed by Mennonite Church USA/MEA Staff  –  8/3/2018