Photo: An online Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations course taught by Jacqueline Hoover, sessional faculty, left, will be an elective course for the new Master of Arts: Theology and Global Anabaptism at AMBS. Photo by Peter Ringenberg.
In response to a growing demand for online master’s degrees, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in Elkhart, Indiana, is launching a new fully online Master of Arts: Theology and Global Anabaptism. Both the AMBS board of directors and the Association of Theological Schools Commission approved the new degree in April.
The 46-credit-hour interdisciplinary academic degree program — which can be completed over four years on a part-time basis — builds on the seminary’s historic Anabaptist identity and longstanding peace studies program to prepare scholars, teachers, pastors and leaders to integrate Anabaptist understandings of Scripture and theology with service in their current and future communities.
“The Anabaptist story and what it has to offer today’s complex and fractured world is receiving new interest as an alternative to Christian nationalism,” said Beverly Lapp, AMBS vice president and academic dean. “AMBS is uniquely equipped to respond to this interest with the expertise of our faculty and the depth of our curriculum.”
In addition to studying the biblical, theological and historical foundations of the Anabaptist tradition, students in the new program will analyze how Anabaptism developed in Western and non-Western contexts and will deepen their faith through spiritual and intercultural formation. They’ll gain skills for engaging in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, communicating the relevance of Anabaptist Christianity today, and leading congregations and other peacebuilding organizations and communities.
Drew Strait, assistant professor of New Testament and Christian origins, said that while the majority of Anabaptists now lives in the global South, “a central theological hub for incubating a global network of Anabaptist practitioners and theologians remains lacking.”
He sees AMBS’s new online master’s degree as a response to this need, making a way to bring together students from across the globe “who want to dig deeper into Scripture to become more effective agents of God’s in-breaking kingdom of peace.”
The Master of Arts: Theology and Global Anabaptism will balance core requirements with elective options so that students can design a program that meets their goals for future study or ministry. While students can earn the degree at a distance, they also can opt to complete the program in less time by spending a semester or more on campus studying full time.