Distance Learning Online at EMS

Eastern Mennonite Seminary has offered online courses for over a decade in the areas of Anabaptist theology, church history, and the practice of ministry (pastoral care, missional church, and leadership). More than a dozen online courses are offered on a two-year cycle, with several course offerings each semester as well as during the summer.

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For cross-cultural learners: The BLESS program | The Samuel Grant


Tuition for online and hybrid courses is the same tuition as courses on EMS main campus in Harrisonburg, Va. Online and hybrid courses may be available for participation audit. To learn more about our audit policy for online and hybrid classes email


Students who have already filled out an application may register by emailing the seminary registrar, .

Fall online courses

New Testament: Text in Context

The New Testament: Text in Context course is a basic introduction to the New Testament. The first part of the course will focus on the world of the New Testament period noting the historical, political, social and cultural setting into which Christ came and the New Testament scriptures were written. The second part of the course is a study of the New Testament itself. Students will read and do inductive study of the various NT books.

  • Instructor: Dr. Dorothy Jean Weaver
  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Dates: September 1-December 18, 2015

Anabaptism Today

Why is there more interest in Anabaptism today than ever before in history? Is it perhaps because many are tired of church as usual? Or, because many realize that in our global community we must learn to live together without violence? Have others been drawn to the embodied discipleship, to the bold witness of the thousands of sixteenth-century Anabaptists who were willing to suffer for their faith? No doubt there are multiple reasons why Christians from various traditions are drawn to Anabaptism. Two theologians are largely responsible for putting Anabaptism on the 21 st Century theological map—John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas. This course will explore contemporary “Anabaptism” through the writings of these two influential theologians and through those who have been influenced by or are in dialogue with them on various issues.

  • Instructor: Dr. Mark Thiessen Nation
  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Dates: September 1- December 18, 2015

Sermon on the Mount: Ethics and Nonviolence

This course in Christian Ethics takes a deep look at Jesus’ teaching and the ethics of the New Testament through the lens of the Sermon on the Mount. Jewish backgrounds of that teaching, resonance in the rest of the Gospels and other parts of the New Testament, and the heritage of its understanding down through the centuries of the Christian church are focal themes of the course. Current applications in understandings of peacemaking at different levels conclude this study. Students will do inductive study of the Gospel texts, some review of Old Testament backgrounds, research on thinkers in Christian history who advanced our understanding of the message, and some evaluation and responses to current practices of peacemaking. The course emphasizes group interaction and direct approaches to the English text of the Scriptures.

  • Instructor: Dr. Laura Brenneman
  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Dates: September 1- December 18, 2015

Fall hybrid courses

More information on housing, financial aid and the schedule for hybrid courses is available here. An optional, but highly recommended orientation will take place on Sunday evening, August 23. More details will come.

Formation in God Story I

Formation in God’s Story I is the first in a series of formation classes, each of which offers a different focus as students attend to their personal, spiritual, and ministry formation while in seminary. This basic course provides time and space for students to pay prayerful attention to their formational journey through listening to their life narrative from birth until the present. Along with this picture of story-listening they will also locate their personal story in the larger picture of God’s story as recorded in scripture. Through reading, meditation, and biblical story-telling, they will internalize the flow of God’s salvation story and attend to how God’s story speaks to their own. Interwoven with these practices, they will also discern and reflect on God’s presence and action in their life, meeting in guided small group sessions for listening and soul care.

  • Instructor: Dr. Emily Peck-McClain
  • Credit Hours: 2
  • Schedule: begin online August 10, Intensive on campus: August 24-28, End date: October 10

Pastoral Care

This course explores the simplicity and complexity of caregiving ministries in both the church and broader community from an Anabaptist missional perspective. Basic skills for caregiving are introduced as well as an examination of the many contextual issues inherent in good pastoral care (culture, method, models, and assumptions). Students will also have the opportunity to engage good self-care practices. The breadth of caregiving will be examined from birth through death with specific attention to major life events and challenges.

  • Instructor: Dr. Lonnie Yoder
  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Schedule: begin online August 10, Intensive on campus: August 24-28, End date: October 3

Spring online courses

Missio Dei in Cultural Context

This course calls and equips participants to join in the drama of God’s mission in the world, as ambassadors of the New Community forming in response to the work and teaching of Jesus Christ. Every human culture is a context for this awareness of God’s activity. We review the many diverse shapes the Gospel has taken in order to be intelligible across many social settings and historical epochs. The God who becomes incarnate among us is passionate about engaging human cultures.

  • Instructor: Dr. James Krabill
  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Dates: January 11- April 29, 2016

Leadership and Administration

This course engages leadership and administration in both traditional and emerging congregations as well as missional involvement in the broader community. Initial attention will focus on the leadership formation of the student from a wholistic perspective. An exploration of biblical and spiritual perspectives will prepare the way for an examination of transformational leadership through both a contextual and cultural lens. Finally, students will have the opportunity to practice and reflect on leadership and administration via the exploration of a variety of specific topics including planning, budgeting, communication, team building, and conflict transformation.

  • Instructor: Dr. Lonnie Yoder
  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Dates: January 11- April 29, 2016

Spring Hybrid Courses

More information on housing, financial aid and the schedule for hybrid courses is available here.

Formation in God’s Story II

Formation in God’s Story II continues the exploration of and engagement with the biblical story. Students will engage in the practice of spiritual disciplines, develop a rhythm and rule of life that can bring a sense of wholeness and balance to the various parts of their life. They will continue to participate in the same small groups as they attend to their spiritual formation in the context of God’s story. Guidance will be offered as they develop a life purpose statement and discern vocational goals that give shape to the learning process and selection of a ministry track for the remainder of their seminary studies.

  • Instructor: Dr. Emily Peck-McClain
  • Credit Hours: 2
  • Schedule: begin online January 4, Intensive on campus: January 18-24, End date: March 4


Students explore the book of Genesis, focusing on the theology of the book, the theological resources it offers and the questions it raises in Christian contexts. Historical, literary, canonical, and socio-cultural approaches inform theological reflection. Classroom time involves lectures and seminar-style discussion on required readings, and student coursework culminates in a substantial final paper or project.

  • Instructor: Dr. Andrea Saner
  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Schedule: begin online January 4, Intensive on campus: January 18-24, End date: February 26

See all our online courses

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