India MBs to honor Paul Hiebert

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Hiebert Memorial Academic Center to be dedicated Feb. 23

By Mark J.H. Klassen

This weekend the Mennonite Brethren Church of India will be hosting the dedication observances of the new Hiebert Memorial Academic Center on the campus of the Mennonite Brethren Centenary Bible College in Shamshabad, Andhra Pradesh, India.

The building, to be dedicated Feb. 23, is named after the late Paul Hiebert, former missionary to India and world-renowned mission anthropologist, who was born in Shamshabad in 1933 to missionary parents. The building dedication is linked with the graduation of 30 students who are prospective church leaders.

The vision for a new academic center originated in the heart of the late VK Rufus, former principal of MBC Bible College, and has been facilitated by PB Arnold, the president of the Governing Council of the MB Church of India. When Hiebert died in March 2007, it was agreed that a fitting tribute to him would be a building in India where he and his wife, Frances, had served as missionaries, as had his parents and grandparents.

Hiebert had personally set aside a sum of $50,000 for the college. Additional funds were then collected from North America ($270,000) and from India ($30,000). Construction began in late 2010 and the building was completed in late 2012.

The two-story building features eight classrooms and is an attractive addition to the facilities already in place. The new facility is quickly becoming, as hoped, a centerpiece for the India MB Conference, which now numbers more than 150,000 members in over 900 churches.

MBC Bible College students come to the college from as far away as northeast India geographically and denominationally include Mennonite Brethren and Methodists, Baptists and others. There are 129 students enrolled this year.

Along with the support of MB Mission, the North American facilitators for the project were Paul Wiebe, Werner Kroeker and Elmer Martens. They worked in partnership with Indian leaders: Rev. Dr PB Arnold, president of the Governing Council of the MB Church of India; Rev. Dr RS Lemuelm, president of the Board of Theological Education; and Rev. IP Asheervadam, principal of MBC Bible College.

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