Letter from U.S. Board of Faith and Life addresses changes at seminary

Letter regarding changes at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary

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The Seminary House is the oldest building on the FPU campus and was completed in 1917 as a home for the family of Wylie M. Giffen, a prominent agriculturist in the Central Valley during the early twentieth century. The MB Board of Education purchased the home in 1955. In the fall of 1956 this building became the home of MB Biblical Seminary.

The U.S. Mennonite Brethren Leadership Board and USMB National Board of Faith and Life sent the following letter regarding the changes at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary via email and addressed to USMB pastors and conference leaders. The letter is dated Nov 3, 2018. It is signed by Tim Sullivan, chair of the U.S. Board of Faith and Life; David Hardt, chair of the USMB Leadership Board; and Don Morris, USMB national director.

You have by now heard of programmatic, administrative and personnel changes which have occurred at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary. We realize that these changes made by the president of the university have been met with varied responses and reactions. In addressing these changes, our hope is to move the conversation toward the future of the seminary and its relationship with the U.S. Mennonite Brethren churches and constituency.

We believe that a growing disconnect between the seminary and our pastors, churches and people had occurred over a period of time. While some would not recognize any chasm between the school and church, for many this had become a reality. The latest example presented itself in a particular online program with three visiting pastor-professors who held some views that many USMB leaders and pastors found troubling. Based upon provisions in a previously established memorandum of understanding between USBFL and the seminary, efforts were initiated over a period of more than a year to address these concerns. Ultimately these concerns were not able to be resolved.

The university president made decisions with the goal of realigning the seminary with the USMB Conference. Please join us in supporting Dr. Jones in his determined efforts to restore confidence and trust in the seminary.

We wish to commend Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary Dean and Interim Vice President Valerie Rempel and the faculty and staff to you for your prayerful and practical support. These have been challenging days for the seminary and we want to encourage and support them in their mission to train leaders for Christ-like service in the church and world. We need a strong biblical seminary, and we urge your active engagement in support of this vital ministry among us!

The U.S. Board of Faith and Life and USMB and district leaders are hopeful and expectant that with God’s help and the support of God’s people, we will see a bright and Christ-honoring future for the seminary entrusted into our stewardship and care.

Serving Christ with you for the USMB Board of Faith and Life and Leadership Board,

Tim Sullivan, U.S. Board of Faith and Life

David Hardt, USMB Leadership Board

Don Morris, USMB National Director

USMB news story

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