A joint release of Mennonite Education Agency (Elkhart, Indiana) and Hesston (Kansas) College

Seminario Bíblico Anabautista Hispano (SeBAH – Hispanic Anabaptist Biblical Seminary) and Hesston College, Hesston, Kansas, have created a partnership to serve Hispanic undergraduate seminary students in the Mennonite church. In the agreement, Hesston College will recognize 28 hours of transfer credit for graduates of SeBAH's Certificate in Pastoral Ministry program. These graduates will also be guaranteed admission to Hesston College with just two positive references, regardless of grade point average and test scores. SeBAH is operated by Mennonite Education Agency (MEA), the education agency of Mennonite Church USA.

Marco Güete, director of MEA's Hispanic Ministries programs, sees this partnership as a faithful example of collaboration and unity within the denomination. "I believe in the strength of unity," he said. "It is a great testimony of cooperation for Hesston College and SeBAH to join their efforts and academic resources to serve leaders and pastors of the growing Iglesia Menonita Hispana and other Hispanic groups of the Anabaptist family in their pastoral and biblical preparation."

SeBAH has trained dozens of leaders from Hispanic Anabaptist-Mennonite congregations since its inception in 2010. The program provides an undergraduate seminary education from an Anabaptist perspective that is uniquely Hispanic. Its online platform is accessible and affordable for Hispanic Mennonite leaders, regardless of their geographical location. SeBAH is 100% online, using the Moodle web-platform, Zoom for interactive video classes and WhatsApp as a support tool. SeBAH meets the needs of Hispanic Mennonite congregations by offering biblical and theological training in Spanish that is open, yet formal.

Güete is eager to see where the agreement with Hesston College will lead. "I am excited to see how these two institutions working together will open doors for leaders, both men and women, to continue their education at the level of associate, bachelor,  master and even doctorate degrees."

Michele Hershberger, professor and department chair of Bible and Ministry at Hesston College, shares Güete's vision. "It's been wonderful working with Marco Güete on this articulation agreement. We found many common themes in our syllabi. We both want students to interact with the biblical narrative in life-changing ways. We want students who are equipped to handle difficult situations in our congregations and provide quality pastoral care. And we want students who can make disciples who in turn can make other disciples. It's all about resourcing the church to be a vessel of God's healing for the world."

Founded in 1909, Hesston College is a two-year liberal arts college in central Kansas, about 35 miles north of Wichita. It is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. In addition to over 50 academic majors and six pre-professional programs, the college offers four-year degree programs in aviation and nursing. It is known for the "Hesston Experience," a unique, close-knit community that values relationships and nurturing each student for "cultural competence, a Gospel ethic and career readiness," according to its website. The college also has a long history of producing ministers for the Mennonite church.

"This partnership is a natural fit," said Hershberger, "because SeBAH and Hesston College care deeply about the same things: leadership development, serving the church and helping the church serve the world."

Hesston College President Joseph Manickam agrees. "SeBAH continues to build on its strengths in delivering impactful church leadership training and education to meet the needs of Spanish-speaking communities around the world. I believe both institutions are significantly stronger for this agreement. We look forward to growing this partnership together."

MEA and SeBAH have a similar agreement with Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, Florida, and are also pursuing a partnership with Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana.

Tom Stuckey, interim executive director of MEA, sees a need within the denomination. "This articulation agreement between Hesston College and SeBAH presents another entry way into Biblical Anabaptist training for our church," Stuckey said. "I believe this model will open opportunities that our churches can use to train future church leaders.  As various Mennonite churches struggle to find current and future pastors, the church, MEA and the Mennonite colleges need to be innovative in creating additional entry points for people hearing the call to ministry."

"Helping schools and programs like SeBAH and Hesston College to network with each other is an important function of MEA," said Stuckey. "MEA is here to work collaboratively, linking Mennonite schools and educational programs with each other, with our churches and with the world."

Mennonite Education Agency (MEA), headquartered in Elkhart, Indiana, partners with Anabaptist Mennonite educational institutions and programs to provide resources, networking and support to school administrators, faculty and staff. As an agency of Mennonite Church USA, MEA ties church and school together in a complementary and cooperative way to ensure students receive a quality Anabaptist Mennonite education. mennoniteeducation.org

 

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Contributed by MEA Staff/Hesston College staff  –  10/16/2020