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Church gives school a shot in the arm

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The involvement of several partners has pulled École de Théologie Évangélique de Montréal from the brink of closure. ETEM is in process of merging with partner school IBVIE (Institut Biblique V.I.E., a Christian and Missionary Alliance Bible college) and is drafting an agreement with Université Laval for accreditation. They will also receive funds from the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (CCMBC).

“It’s very much a strategic partnership to move forward in the mission of the school,” said CCMBC executive director Willy Reimer. The Canadian conference has more than doubled its funding subsidy to ETEM from $50,000 a year to $120,000 annually for a three-year period. “We want to work with ETEM so they become a self-sustainable school.”

ETEM rector Kristen Corrigan said CCMBC’s funding “sends all the right messages to our students that what they are learning is important.”

“We’re excited about the partnerships with IBVIE and Laval, to be able to grant degrees in Quebec, and to have a partnership that is focused on equipping people for church ministry,” said Reimer. The school hopes to strengthen its relationship with the province’s 10 MB churches, where some disconnect has occurred in recent years. “Quebec leadership affirmed ETEM as its ‘go-to’ school,” said Reimer.

After several years of financial struggles, ETEM received a blow when accrediting school Université de Montréal terminated the partnership in March 2011 because of changes in the faculty agreement. Due to provincial government restrictions, tuition on three-credit-hour courses cannot be raised above $200 and subsidies are not available for religious schools. ETEM’s summer courses were cancelled and its future viability was in serious doubt.

By early July, ETEM arranged a partnership with Université Laval to keep accreditation within the province of Quebec. The Quebec City university will give latitude to teach “our evangelical distinctive” said Corrigan, and will enable future possibilities for course delivery in that location.

Relationship between IBVIE and ETEM has been evolving for several years. In 2009, IBVIE moved onto shared premises with ETEM, and the two schools blended courses in the 2010–2011 school year.

Over the next year, an interim board consisting of at least one board member and one representative of each school will develop a strategic direction, governance structures, and clarify interim and long-term roles. Corrigan says though it feels like “trying to assemble an airplane while flying it,” the two schools are figuring out how to operate as one. The emerging entity has yet to be named.

Summer courses may be on hold, but ETEM is charging ahead with student enrollment for the fall to equip leaders to serve the church.

—Karla Braun

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