Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre (TMTC) will end its operations this spring, following a decision of the Conrad Grebel University College Board of Governors at its February meeting.
TMTC was founded in 1990 by a consortium of Mennonite institutions as a graduate teaching and research centre, affiliated with the Toronto School of Theology (TST). Grebel assumed responsibility for TMTC in the year 2000 and has operated the centre since then. “Many factors fed into our decision to close TMTC, and ultimately our best judgment was that Grebel needs to direct its limited resources toward our in-house programs, including the Theological Studies Department,” announced Grebel President Marcus Shantz.
Shantz convened consultations with the TMTC Advisory Council in 2019 and has been in conversation with partner institutions like Canadian Mennonite University and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary over the past few years about the future of the centre. “TMTC has been an important program for many people, and I understand that there is disappointment and sadness in this direction,” said Shantz. “However, we have also heard acceptance and support for this decision from long-term TMTC stakeholders, institutional partners, our faculty, and our Board.”
Although TMTC's work convening Anabaptist-Mennonite students at TST will end, Grebel will continue its academic affiliation with TST, maintaining an opportunity for TST students to engage with the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. “TST students will continue to be able to take courses offered in Grebel’s Master of Theological Studies program, and Grebel professors may continue to teach and supervise students at TST,” noted Troy Osborne, Grebel's Dean.
In recent years, TMTC's activities began to reach beyond Toronto, and it is hoped that many of these activities may continue with the support of other institutional partners. These gatherings have included a biennial graduate student conference, the “Mennonite Scholars and Friends” forum at the annual American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature meetings, and the online Anabaptist-Mennonite Scholars Network.
“Together with other Mennonite colleges and seminaries, we hope to find ways to continue connecting Anabaptist-Mennonite graduate students wherever they are located,” said Carol Penner, Chair of Grebel's Theological Studies Department.
Current TMTC Director and Grebel Professor Jeremy Bergen, whose affiliation began in 1999 as a graduate student, and who has also served as staff person, teacher, and advisor, reflected on the program’s influence. “It’s hard to sum up the impact TMTC has had on the Mennonite theological ecosystem over its 33 years. TMTC has been formative for well over 100 graduate students who have in turn contributed important research, written influential books, and shaped church and educational institutions,” he explained. “Many serve as faculty members and church leaders. TMTC has brought an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective to conversations at one of the leading ecumenical centres of theological learning in North America but also contributed to critical and challenging discussions within Mennonite communities. Even though this one institution is closing, its legacy is embodied in the lives of many.”
Discussions are underway for a closing event in the fall and a final edition of the TMTC Now newsletter.