A Brief History


The birth and growth of the Christian school movement among conservative Anabaptists was accompanied by a growing need for qualified teachers. During the early 1980s, a few brethren met to discuss the possibility of starting a Christian college for conservative Anabaptists.


The result of that discussion was a meeting in Hartville, Ohio, on February 13, 1982, which was attended by about 15 persons. From those present, an ad-hoc committee composed of John D. Martin, Joseph Hostetler, Roman J. Miller, and Dale Heisey was formed and given the responsibility of developing a proposal for a Christian college. 

b founders


During 1983, this ad-hoc committee completed a document called “Proposal for a Christian College,” which proposed a four-year college with the following emphases: a work-study program that provides a tuition-free education, a teaching program that equips people to live in the community of faith after finishing school, a discipleship program that encourages people to follow Christ in life and to use their gifts to build the Kingdom of God, and an educational program that equips people to serve the church and spread the gospel. Although a year-round, on-site educational program was not developed until after facilities were purchased in 1992, many of these emphases were incorporated into the developing program. Between 1984 and 1992, the Board of Faith Builders Educational Programs (hereafter FBEP or FB) struggled to develop plans for a Christian college that a wide range of conservative Mennonites could support. Board members during this time included Dale Heisey, James Landis, Milo Zehr, Enos Heatwole, Orval Zehr, Lyle Kropf, David Weaver, Paul Miller, Vernon Mullet, Joe Schmucker, and Melvin Lehman. 


As a step toward achieving the goal of establishing a year-round post-high-school program of study, the board decided to offer classes during the summers for two types of students: content classes for teachers and issues classes for students attending other schools. As a result of that decision, summer terms were held from 1987 through 1992 at rented facilities in Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. During these years, FBEP received many calls for teachers. 


In 1991, the board decided that FBEP could not meet the great need for teachers by offering classes only during the summer. The decision was made to purchase a property and to develop a year-round teacher apprenticing program. 


The nineteen acres and 85,000 sq. ft. complex at Guys Mills, PA, were purchased in July 1992, and renovation began soon afterward. In an attempt to develop work projects that would allow FBEP to offer a work-study educational program, a bakery was also started in 1992, and plans were developed to open a personal care home. 


One year after renovation began, the year-round Teacher Apprenticing Program (hereafter TAP) became a reality in the fall of 1993 when a Christian school for grades 1-12 was established on-site as a platform for the apprenticing process. 


Despite having limited financial and personnel resources, Faith Builders was able to make progress in building a program of instruction for teachers. During 1994 and 1995, a basic curriculum of core courses was developed, and Faith Builders began to accept year-round students. 


In 2002, Faith Builders was approved to work with Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit program to provide scholarship funds to K-12 schools throughout Pennsylvania through business donors. The program has expanded consistently over the years. Early efforts at a work-study program were revisited during this time as well.


To strengthen FB’s apprenticing programs, a three-week apprenticing term was added during the 2003-2004 academic year. During the same year, terms were changed to twelve weeks of study with one week of focused mentoring.

Apprenticing Program


A five-week winter term during January was added to the school’s offerings in 2004 with an emphasis on offering courses of biblical, theological, and practical ministry interest. The emphasis on developing the hands continues with school service and apprenticing throughout terms.


In 2006, the FBEP Board of Directors formed the FB Resource Group with the purpose of producing, publishing, and distributing books, audio, video, and live resources that promote an Anabaptist-Christian worldview.*


From 2001-2010, Faith Builders worked with the American Council on Education to have courses reviewed to determine if they could be recommended for college credit. Since 2010, Faith Builders has worked with the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS) to continue this periodic course evaluation process. This evaluation provides a way for students to transfer coursework done at the Training Institute to colleges and universities.* 


In 2010, the Resource Group began distributing Living History Threads, a comprehensive history and geography curriculum for grades one through four. This curriculum prepares students for further historical weavings through living books and stories that are formative and informative.*


In 2011, the board and administration of Faith Builders restructured the core programs of the Institute to bring greater clarity and real-world experience to the training in Christian ministries. The Institute began offering three tracks of study: 1) Teacher Apprenticing; 2) Christian Ministries (replacing the Ministry Apprenticing Program); and 3) General Studies for those students who would like to pursue education beyond FB.*


In October 2018, Servant Institute was launched. Servant Institute is a two-year program of study and experiences designed for those who have been called to serve as organizational leaders.* 


In 2018 and 2019, the apprenticing component of the Christian Ministries and General Studies tracks was revised. The apprenticing experience was focused on the development of three core skills: 1) Teaching the Bible, 2) Cross-cultural communication, and 3) Seeing and meeting needs.*


In 2020, the board decided that additional energy should be devoted to the Resource Group, which resulted in the decision to build a new facility for the Resource Group.* In 2020, the Apprenticing Term was postponed in response to pandemic safety requirements. It was a change that had various positive benefits, and the Apprenticing Term was officially moved to the middle of the fall semester in 2021.


Ground was broken for the Resource Group facility in the spring of 2022.*