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Distance learning expanding reach of Eastern Mennonite Seminary

Thirty-three new students have entered programs at Eastern Mennonite Seminary the fall semester of 2009. The unique aspect: over half of this group has begun programs not on the main campus of EMS in Harrisonburg.

While enrollment on the Harrisonburg campus of EMS remains steady with 15 newly-enrolled students, there has been a significant increase in new students in distance learning courses and at the Lancaster branch.

Eight new students enrolled at EMS Lancaster this fall, and 10 new students have enrolled in distance learning courses.

“Expanded programs and less interest in moving for graduate-level education seem to be the main factors in this shift in enrollment,” said Don A. Yoder, director of admissions.

“Last year, EMS Lancaster was accredited to offer a full master of divinity program on their campus. Last fall EMS Lancaster had four new students enrolled. This fall, 11 new students have enrolled,” he noted.

“I choose the EMS Lancaster branch because it is close by and I wanted to learn more about Anabaptist history and theology,” said Chris Stoltzfus of Gap, Pa.EMS continues to offer an increased selection of online courses.

In addition, EMS is piloting a project that offers “hybrid” courses, a combination of on location and online study, especially aimed at those with interest in the Middle East and mission work.

New student Malerie Plank from Wellman, Iowa, will be traveling to Siguatepeque, Honduras with TranSend, a program of Virginia Mennonite Missions. She is enrolled in the online class “Cross-cultural Discipleship,” designed for mission workers on assignment in a cross-cultural setting.

“This class seemed like a good way to supplement a year of hands-on learning with more theory and guidance, and it will be neat to talk about my experiences with others who are experiencing some of the same things and some different ones as well,” Plank said.

Total enrollment for fall 2009 is 130 students, up from 123 students in 2008. More information on all of Eastern Mennonite Seminary’s programs is available at or by calling the director of admissions, 540.432.4257.

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