A forward step in overseas advanced ministerial training was taken this past summer that bids fair to mark a new era in intensified and unified denominational worker-training endeavor. This took the form of a six-weeks' overseas field seminary sent out from our headquarters' Theological Seminary. It was conducted between June 9 and July 22. Initiated by E. B. Rudge and the British Union Conference committee, it really came to assume international proportions, as twenty-four ministers from various countries of the Northern and Southern European Divisions, and five furlough workers from the African fields, joined nearly forty ministers from Great Britain in this unique enterprise—a total of sixty-seven. The roster included four teachers from Newbold Missionary College.
This field seminary session was held amid the restful, picturesque environs of Newbold Missionary College (Bracknell, Berkshire, England), and was conducted by three instructors from the parent seminary staff—Dr. Holger Lindsjo, director, and John L. Shuler and LeRoy E. Froom comprising the teaching team. George King, Ministerial Association secretary for Great Britain, and vice-president for the union, served as general counselor and chairman of the discussion hour. Members of the Newbold College staff aided materially in the registration, and the administrative aspects. The illustrations in the center opening of this number will visualize the setting.
This school was not a mere ministerial institute or a glorified chatauqua, extended in length, but followed a closely knit and very full daily program, from the rising bell on to the close of the day. A busier group of men one would rarely see. It was a seminary session in a very real sense. And a more eager and responsive group of ministers, as students, one could scarcely hope to find. In Britain the selection was largely from the younger men. Older men came from the Continent, including three conference presidents. Regrettably, no Bible instructors were among the number, or ministers' wives.
The instruction comprised three uniform seminary courses, streamlined and adapted to special overseas needs and available facilities. The three courses were on archaeology and the Bible, evangelistic and pastoral-eVangelistic methods, and the prophetic interpretation foundations of the Advent message,' which combination provided a well-balanced and integrated program. Each of these classes had double se'ssions, so as to compass the bulk of twelve-weeks' work in six-weeks' time. There were no electives.
The instruction was highly practical, the purpose being to instill the spirit of true study, to indicate methods of successful study, to make available essential facts, principles, and sources, and thus to open up a whole new world of possibilities. It included the inculcation of sound principles of investigation and research, the importance of employing only worthy and trustworthy evidence, the effective use of the evidence thus obtained, and the adaptation of one's findings to individual circumstances and needs. Tools for the future were provided for these ministerial workmen.
In addition, alternate chapel periods and discussion hours opened the afternoon sessions. Visiting brethren from America and leading British workers joined with the teaching staff in rounding out the scope of the chapel periods. A very practical list of discussion topics was presented by another group of able men who opened the discussions, followed by questions and participation from the floor. Two specialists were brought out to Newbold to afford a tangible contact with the scholars not of our faith. One was a well-known archaeologist of the University of London, who had spent several years investigating in the Mediterranean area, and who is the author of a standard work in his field. The other was a specialist in the field of visual education.
Twenty-minute prayer groups for devotion and intercession met daily in the middle of the morning. The instructors also had a special prayer period each day just before the general morning worship. These minister-students conducted the highly helpful morning and evening worship periods, as well as the weekly prayer meetings.
Voice tests for all students were conducted on the sound mirror by E. W. Marter, Bible teacher at Newbold. This feature was greatly appreciated and widely utilized. The singing of the group was an inspiration. Quartets, double quartets, and male choruses added to our enjoyment and edification. The occasional recital of experiences by our brethren from war-wracked Europe moved us deeply, and the story of divine providences and evangelistic advances subdued and inspired us. Prayers were often heard in other tongues, but all classwork was in English. Certain examination papers were written in French, German, Swedish, and Norwegian.
It was well that this noble experiment, which proved to be highly feasible and worthwhile, should be held in the Old World, which had suffered such severe damage, privation, and isolation because of World War II. When large groups cannot go to the Seminary, the Seminary can go to them. The impulse that is bound to come from this initial advanced school for preachers will be most wholesome. The mere mingling of the brethren, even if nothing else were gained, was worthwhile. The broadening of the horizons and the exchange of viewpoints were priceless.
But there was vastly more. Newer and better ways of presenting our message, a clearer concept of the deep rootage of our movement, and improved techniques of public and personal evangelism were made paramount. A consciousness of the divine credentials inherent in this message, and its rightful claim upon the attention of the world, its dignity, its fundamental soundness, its source of power, and its divine origin and destined triumphs—all formed part of the spirit and purpose of this enterprise.
Europe needs, and we all need, a greater conciousness of the majesty and pre-eminence of this message and its rightful claims upon the mind of mankind, especially upon the leaders of thought in religious and secular life, many of whom will yet throw their training, talent, and influence with this message. These we must seek to reach. Hence we need a trained, informed, sound ministry to reach the better classes.
This message must be brought out from relative obscurity and become the theme of widespread, yes, world-wide discussion. It must yet, and will, arrest the attention of the multitudes. We must be prepared to present our message with such soundness of content, such winsomeness of approach and skill in presentation, and with such Spirit-indited appeal as to win those multiplied thousands that we are assured will come into the faith in the last days. That calls for Spirit-filled, Spirit-controlled men—men who have made all possible human preparation to cooperate with the divine agency. This grand goal has been the constant burden of our emphasis. A field seminary has no other rightful mission or basis for existence.
The spirit of oneness in our ministerial brotherhood assembled at Newbold was in marked evidence. No trace of national prejudice or racial consciousness marred our sojourn. And from north to south here was the wide scope of our geographical spread, in addition to some forty from Great Britain : Norway, 2; Sweden, 2; Denmark, 2 ; Finland, 3;Belgium, 2; France, 3; Switzerland, 3; Portugal, 1; Italy, ; Austria, I; Spain, 1; and five from West Africa and Madagascar. Some, from certain lands, had great difficulty in securing governmental permission to come. But they finally arrived, much to everyone's joy. It was a sight that was good for the eyes and good for the spirit. The oneness of this message must never be broken.
All students were duly sent by their respective conferences, and properly registered. Class records, examinations, and appropriate certificates made it a very real school. MINISTRY readers might like to glance at the daily program, which was meticulously followed:
B-290 Development of Prophetic Interpretation
Prayer and devotional period
A-2o5 Archaeology and the Bible
Recreation and counsel period
Chapel and round table
P-235 Evangelistic and Pastoral Plans and Methods
Discussion hour on evangelism and pastoral work
The scope of the discussion period may likewise be of interest. Some of the topics studied and the chairmen are as follows:
Principles of Research Holger Lindsjo
Place and Purpose of the L. E. Froom
Voice Culture and Speech E. W. Marter
Budget Plan Finance A. Carey
British Voice of Prophecy J. A. McMillan
Presenting a Christo-Centric T. J. Bradley
General Topics G. D. King
Meeting Modern Trends E. G. Essery, M.D.
in Thought and Science
Prophetic Preaching for W. L. Emmerson
Britain lived up to its established reputation for variable, clammy weather. Overcoats were frequently in evidence, all through June and into July. It was an invigorating change for those from hot climes, and quite a contrast. Towels, sheets, pillow slips, serviettes (napkins), and soap had to be brought by all, and food ration books secured. The food reflected the restrictions that Britain has borne with fortitude for years—a high starch content and little fruit. These lands have suffered under the cruel impact of war. This has naturally had a depressing, hardening effect upon the populace. The natural tendency has been for some unconsciously to adopt an apologetic, and sometimes almost a defeatist, attitude and phraseology : "It can't be done here." But some of our Continental brethren have shown how simple childlike faith has wrought miracles, and the impossible has happened again and again.
Our hope for great advance lies in our young men with vision, backed by our older men of courage and experience, who will attempt even greater things for God as divine power blends with trained, consecrated human endeavor in the final phase of our work. The field seminary is a tangible recognition of that basic fact. The last movements will be "rapid ones." We must quicken our pace and tighten our hold on God.