The seminary originated in a mandate from the 1948 convention of North American Mennonite Brethren Churches, and was established and opened by the U.S. Mennonite Brethren Churches in September 1955. In 1975, Canadian Mennonite Brethren became partners and joint owners of the seminary.
It was founded as a response to different theological currents and sociological changes in the church and larger culture. In the words of former president J.B. Toews, “The seminary was born in 1955 because of the vision of the church for trained leadership that could lead wisely, theologically, and above all, biblically in a society that was rushing madly after the gods of learning and mammon.” Mennonite Brethren leaders saw a need for a leadership training consistent with an anabaptist-evangelical perspective. They recognized the strategic role of church leadership in shaping the identity, unity and direction of a people facing rapid cultural and theological change. The need for godly and discerning Christian leaders is even greater today than it was when the seminary was founded.