In 1934, Mennonites from Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the United States of America responded to the call of God to venture into missions to the African continent. This call led them to Tanganyika, where they began their work in 1934 at Shirati, Tanganyika. One of their priorities was leadership training. Shortly after the work was started, missionaries John and Catherine Leatherman arrived in Tanganyika in 1936 and on October 21 of that year, Bukiroba Bible School was opened. The aim was to train the evangelists in Biblical studies and basic education and classes in Bible and home making for their wives. Old and New Testament, leadership methods, and church history also formed the curriculum.
One year before national independence, in 1960 Tanganyika Mennonite Church attained autonomy from Lancaster Mennonite Conference and desired an upgrading of the Bible College. Following construction, Mennonite Theological College opened in 1962 with Dr. Donald Jacobs as the first principal. Dr. Jacobs led the effort to enroll those who had proven themselves in church ministries to the college. During the three years the students continued in ministries in church life and apprenticeship. A meaningful fellowship of mutual discipleship occurred between students and faculty. After graduation, the church called some and others turned to other vocations while four of the students were sent oversees for further studies. However, due to the high cost of running the college, the church shifted focus from the theological college back to Bible School.
Bukiroba Bible School was re-opened in 1971 offering a two – year course designed for those who had finished elementary school. In order to train leaders who were in touch with the world of work and could help support themselves, vocational courses were added to the curriculum. In view of the low enrollment the Bible School, once again, was discontinued and in 1981, Theological Education by Extension (T.E.E) was developed as an alternative.
In 1988, the council of Eastern Africa Mennonite Churches (CEAMC) was formed. Soon after its formation, the CEAMC meeting proposed a “Theological Leadership Training Commission.” The commission was to be composed of representatives from each Diocese. The CEAMC’s proposal was visionary and proved to be a very important step towards establishing a theological training program. Through the support of Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities (EMBMC), “Mennonite College and Seminary of Eastern Africa” was born. The college was reopened in 1991 under this name with a mandate from CEAMC to “Equip Pastors and Deacons for fruitful Ministry and Evangelism”. Since then the name has changed to “Mennonite Theological College of Eastern Africa.” The College is located about 8 kms. from Musoma town along the Musoma – Mwanza road.