Mennonite Education Agency – Seminario Bíblico Anabautista Hispano (SeBAH – Hispanic Anabaptist Biblical Seminary) has reached an agreement with Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, Florida, that will enable students who have completed SeBAH’s Certificate of Pastoral Ministry to transfer credits into Palm Beach Atlantic’s (PBA) Global Leadership Bachelor of Arts. SeBAH is operated by Mennonite Education Agency (MEA), the education agency of Mennonite Church USA. 

“Formal biblical and theological education is an essential component to increase the ministerial capacity of leaders and pastors,” said Marco Güete, director of MEA’s Hispanic Ministries programs. “This new partnership with a fully accredited and wellknown university offers new opportunities for the SeBAH program and its students.”

According to the agreement, SeBAH graduates will be granted 36 hours of credit toward their undergraduate degree and will be eligible for scholarships of up to $1,100 per semester.

Initiated in 2010, SeBAH has trained dozens of leaders from Hispanic AnabaptistMennonite congregations. The program provides an open, yet formal, undergraduate seminary education in Spanish. 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 from an Anabaptist perspective that is uniquely Hispanic.

SeBAH students are not the only beneficiaries of this new partnership. Dr. Ryan Gladwin, associate professor of Theology and Ministry at PBA, who also serves as director of PBA’s Global Leadership in Spanish program, said the SeBAH transfer students will bring unique ideas and perspectives.

“We believe this partnership will be of mutual benefit to PBA and SeBAH. A quality college education is not a viable possibility for many Latinx and Latin American leaders, given the time and economic demands of a college degree and working in contexts where being bi- or tri-vocational are the norm. As a result, the desire of this program is to empower individuals to be leaders not only in the church but also in the business and non-profit sectors in order to impact society at large. PBA is an interdenominational Christian university that strives to expose students to the breadth and width of the different Christian traditions, and we believe that SeBAH students, who bring with them Anabaptist perspectives on leadership, Christian mission and service, will greatly enrich the program.”

PBA was founded as a private Christian school in 1968. It has two campuses, one in West Palm Beach and the other in Orlando, with approximately 2,800 undergraduate students, of which 15% are of Hispanic identity, according to the U.S Department of Education. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

“This partnership fits perfectly with our mission at the School of Ministry to prepare men and women with the knowledge, skills and character necessary for lifelong effective Christian ministry,” said Dr. Jonathan Grenz, dean and associate professor of Ministry

Leadership Studies at PBA’s School of Ministry. “I believe this mission is not limited to English-speaking people living in South Florida, but extends to our brothers and sisters in Christ across the nation and our world.”

MEA and SeBAH are pursuing similar agreements with Anabaptist-Mennonite institutions affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Both Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in Elkhart, Indiana, and Hesston College, Hesston, Kansas, are in talks with MEA about recognizing SeBAH credits. 

“The signing of this agreement [between SeBAH and PBA] speaks boldly to the value of an Anabaptist education in our world today, a world that is seeking a Jesus who speaks against fear, hatred and separation,” said Dr. Joseph Manickam, president of Hesston College. “I am grateful to our Hispanic sisters and brothers who are forging these ecumenical relationships. It is this type of missional thinking which makes the emerging partnership between SeBAH and Hesston College so attractive to us.”  

Dr. David Boshart, president of AMBS, agrees and cited recent new accreditation standards that will make it easier for SeBAH students to pursue academic work at the seminary. ATS Commission, the accrediting body for AMBS, adopted changes that will allow the seminary to recognize SeBAH students’ PBA credits. “The changes in accrediting standards will enable theological schools to meet the needs of their constituencies in more contextually appropriate ways,” said Dr. David Boshart, president of AMBS.

 

“MEA’s Hispanic Ministries programs are eager for opportunities to expand and benefit more Hispanic leaders in ministry,” said Tom Stuckey, MEA interim executive director and CEO. “These programs are nimble and well-positioned to serve Hispanic students, wherever they are.”

MEA also operates Instituto Bíblico Anabautista (IBA – Anabaptist Biblical Institute), which offers biblical teaching from an Anabaptist perspective, 100% in Spanish, for students at all educational levels. Many IBA students are leaders serving in their congregations as Sunday school teachers, deacons, pastors, church planters and various other roles. Classes are held year-round at 25 study centers located throughout the country. IBA offers hybrid learning for the 200-plus students currently enrolled, combining in-person and interactive video classes.

Helping schools and programs like SeBAH to network with each other is an important function of MEA, says Stuckey. “We are here to work collaboratively, linking Mennonite schools and 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

Contributed by Mennonite Church USA/MEA Staff  –  9/4/2020