Development of Seminary Education in the Mennonite Church

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Sat, 06/01/1991
End Date: 
Wed, 09/30/1992

A social history of the first seminary of the Mennonite Church, Goshen College Biblical Seminary, was inaugurated. The establishment of seminary education in the Mennonite Church during the early part of this century led to a single pastor model of leadership, increased professionalization of Mennonite clergy, and increased the overall bureaucratization of Mennonite life. This social history, therefore, led to a better understanding of the rationalization of religious authority and the impact of modernization in religious life more generally. This social history was accomplished through: library research into the history of the Mennonite Church and Mennonite education; archival research on the resistance posed to seminary education during the early 1900s by church leaders as well as the work of Mennonite educators and laity who were proponents of the seminary; archival research on the institutional proceedings leading to the founding of the seminary; interviews with seminary faculty; intensive interviews with people who received Th.B. and B.D. degrees from Goshen during the years 1933 (when the Th.B. was first offered) and 1956 (ten years after the seminary was formally instituted); and preparation of a book-length manuscript. This project generally clarified the history of Mennonite theological education and the changes in pastoral leadership over the past fifty years. It also contributed to a general understanding of the impact of the so-called "carriers" of modernity (e.g., education and bureaucratic organization) on religious life. (KA)