Today the announcement was made, in the words of the press release, that the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary will transfer its programs to FPU, and that seminary faculty will become FPU faculty, etc. over the next few months. Some of us have known this was probably going to happen for a couple of weeks, but not exactly when, how or on what terms. Let me add my thoughts on what seems like an event to celebrate.
Many people in Fresno have assumed that the seminary was a part of FPU and vice versa. I can’t count how many potential students I have talked to about the Marriage and Family Counselling program or the MDiv at the seminary, and have given them a name and phone number to call. Many of us at the university have taught over the years at the seminary (in my case church history) and many at the seminary have taught for the university. Our, FPU’s, graduates regularly enter the theology degree programs and the MFT. Some of our faculty are MBBS grads. We are on the same corner, share a library–it looks like we are one institution.
My denomination, Presbyterian, has had a cooperative program with MBBS for training pastors, and a number of those in the San Joaquin Presbytery are grads. Many pastors serving now in Fresno and the valley from many denominations (Baptist, nondenominational, charismatic, Anglican/Episcopal) are MBBS grads. I will be happy to count them as FPU alumni as well.
Now we will become one institution under the FPU umbrella. We haven’t, apparently, settled all of the organizational issues. There’s time for all of this. But I’ve already been working with Andy Johnson, the director of student recruitment at MBBS, and we are making sure that current and potential students know that they will have the same solid teaching that MBBS has been known for, will earn their degrees, will keep their financial aid, and will leave prepared to serve Christ in ministry and service. FPU students will now benefit from an easier transition to graduate studies. Our faculties will both be strengthened, and our programs deepened.
For the churches and students of the valley, Fresno, and for the Mennonite Brethren churches in North America and worldwide this is something to celebrate. Theological education will continue to thrive in Fresno.
You can see the full press release at http://www.fresno.edu/news/news_story.asp?iNewsID=1574&strBack=%2FDefault%2Easp