The birth and growth of the Christian school movement among conservative Mennonites was accompanied by a growing need for qualified teachers. During the early 1980’s, a few concerned brethren met to discuss the possibility of starting a Christian college for conservative Mennonites. 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 to develop a proposal for a Christian college. 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 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 January, 1999, an intensive self-evaluation of FBEP was initiated in an attempt to strengthen Faith Builder’s educational programs and discipling methods. As a result of this self-evaluation, changes in the teacher-training curriculum, the addition of a two-year program for students interested in areas of Christian service other than teaching (Ministry Apprenticing Program, abbreviated as MAP), strengthening of mentoring methods, and a transition from quarter hours to semester hours were effected. 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. 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. Faith Builders discontinued several work-study programs over the years. The bakery was discontinued in 2002 and the Personal Care Home in 2007 due to increasing regulation and conflicts with student schedules. The emphasis on developing the hands continues with school service and apprenticing throughout terms.

In 2006, the FBEP Board of Directors voted to form the FB Resource Group with the purpose of producing, publishing, and distributing books, audio, video, and live resources that promote an Anabaptist-Christian worldview. The Resource Group provides resources and services for Mennonite schools and church communities. In November, 2010 Faith Builders underwent a process of course evaluation by the National Program on Noncollegiate Sponsored Instruction (National PONSI). This evaluation provides a way for students to transfer course work done at FB to colleges and universities. (See page 63 for more information.) In 2011 the board and administration of Faith Builders restructured the core programs to bring greater clarity and real-world experience to the training in Christian ministries. Faith Builders began offering three tracks of study at FBEP, as follows: 1) Teacher Apprenticing, with only slight modifications; 2) Christian Ministries (replacing Ministry Apprenticing Program), offering a number of concentrations such as discipleship, music, and Bible; and 3) General Studies, for those students who would like to pursue education beyond FB.