“What’s going on with MBBS?” is a question many MBs are asking since the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary board announced transfer of the Fresno, Cal., operation of the binational institution to Fresno Pacific University effective June 2010 (renamed Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary in January 2011). The MBBS Incorporated board and Canadian seminary commission met in Winnipeg, Mar. 21–22, to work toward an answer. “It’s like designing a bus while it’s already running,” says MBBS Inc. chair John Unger; “we’re doing bodywork on the highway.”
Despite the unknowns, the board is moving forward in a spirit of hope and opportunity, tentatively planning initiatives even as structures and relationships are being mapped. Subject to budget and owner approval, the MBBS Inc. board moved for the funding of two part-time positions at existing partnership institution MBBS-ACTS in Langley, B.C.
The MBBS Inc. board also ratified an international task force to develop distance education courses to be used as building blocks toward a graduate degree at MB institutions in the U.S. and Canada. Mennonite Brethren particularity will be a key component of the courses. “We’re not interested in adding another generic evangelical program,” said Don Eskes, a U.S. member of MBBS Inc.
MBBS Inc., which held fiduciary responsibility for funds and operations, is working itself out of a job. The board voted – subject to approval from the Canadian commission (received the next day) and Canadian Conference of MB Churches executive board – to transfer ownership of the B.C. centre to CCMBC, to transfer financial operations to a Canadian entity that meets legal requirements in Canada and the U.S., and to approve the MBBS-Canada budget. This includes revenue from Canadian earnings, endowments owned by CCMBC and their earnings, and the student loan fund (created to assist Canadian students in Fresno).
With commission members’ terms coming to an end, they moved that CCMBC executive board appoint a provisional board to continue moving forward with the development of appropriate governance structures.