(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.
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
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
“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.”
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
“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.”