A most successful and important Seminary Extension School has recently been conducted on the campus of Spicer Memorial College in Poona, India. The eight weeks from March 21 to May 14 were rich and precious ones for both students and faculty. It would be difficult to adequately describe the depth of dedication and faithful application indicated by the men and women who made up the largest student body of any extension school thus far sponsored by the parent Seminary institution in Washington, D.C. One hundred forty-one workers from twenty language areas of Southern Asia made up this earnest and consecrated student body.
The faculty was under the leadership of Frank Yost, associate secretary of the Religious Liberty Department of the General Conference. Those associated with him were Arthur L. White of the General Conference, and Melvin K. Eckenroth of the parent Seminary staff. Neville Matthews, former registrar of Spicer College, served also as extension school registrar. In addition to this regular teaching staff guest lectures were given by various leaders of the Southern Asia Division.
The personnel of the extension school student body was made up of forty-nine evangelists and pastors; thirty-six teachers; eighteen division, union, and local mission departmental secretaries; six mission presidents; four high school principals; eleven students of Spicer College; five publishing house workers; four Voice of Prophecy workers; two Bible instructors; three office secretaries; one laboratory technician; two housewives. As these students worked and studied together for eight weeks they brought with them all the rich and colorful backgrounds of the lands and peoples, languages and cultures, political and social concepts, religions and practices of the millions comprising the exotic lands of India, Pakistan, Burma, and Ceylon.
The academic concentration centered in five major courses, each of which met four days a week, spaced over the six working days. This alternate scheduling provided time in the daily program for a chapel exercise and prayer band hour. The courses presented were the Doctrine of the Sabbath and Sunday, the Doctrine of Grace and Law, Prophetic Guidance in the Remnant Church, Christ-centered Preaching, and Evangelistic Procedures.
This combination of courses gave the students a well-balanced study program uniquely combining a proper emphasis on Bible, history, theology, and methodology. The teachers were able to emphasize unitedly the centrality of the Biblical and Spirit of prophecy authority and instruction in the areas of content and practical theology. This close integration of work among the teaching staff contributed enormously to the stability and singleness of purpose of the extension school objective.
A Spiritual Emphasis
There were many occasions during the period of the extension school which may appropriately be remembered as outstanding experiences of fellowship. One example of this is the precious memory of a three-and-one-half-hour chapel service in which an unusual outpouring of the Holy Spirit was most manifest. In this service the entire student body responded in unrestrained dedication and confession. Wrongs were made right, and with the deepest feeling men of strength pleaded with God for favor and power in their ministry. This was the high point of the spiritual blessings.
One Sabbath afternoon following the symposium hour we all retired to the banks of a nearby river to witness the baptismal service which was conducted by J. F. Ashlock, ministerial association secretary of the Southern Asia Division. One young woman who is now studying in the nurses' training class waited until she became of age, and regardless of her parents' displeasure and its attendant consequences, went forward in baptism with her Lord. To witness such a mature faith displayed in youth brought great courage and blessing to all.
On the Friday morning of the final weekend the students came together with the division leaders to crystallize their thinking and determinations before returning to their respective fields. They divided according to their fields to set various goals and objectives for the remainder of the year. How eagerly these workers pledged themselves to bring about a mighty stirring of God's truth among the unwarned millions. They have indeed set themselves to the task of achieving the greatest soul-winning harvest in the history of our work in this division. Thus, in a very practical sense the workers have determined to justify the faith of the leaders in the worth-whileness of the extension school plan. We have every reason to believe that the fruitage will justify the labor, expense, and faith in this school.
The chapel exercises were a source of daily fellowship with Christ as the faculty and guest speakers presented related materials as complementary to the course work. Dr. Dunbar Smith gave a clear call to dietary reforms and the interrelationship of diet to spiritual life and experience. A. E. Rawson gave studies on the sanctuary which showed how this great truth is foundational to the Advent faith. Brethren O. O. Mattison, H. H. Mattison, E. L. Sorensen, and D. Johnson gave valuable practical counsel to efficient ministerial conduct and service. After the daily chapel periods the entire student body repaired to assigned rooms for a twenty-minute period of prayer. These daily prayer meetings became treasured periods for all and are remembered with most profound regard.
The regular daily "round table" hour was greatly appreciated as Elders Ashlock and H. H. Mattison, acting as chaiimen, led forth in some pertinent and practical topics. Papers were presented by men who had had experience in the matter under discussion, and then a major portion of the time was spent in discussion from the floor and a free interchange of ideas.
The closing exercises of the school were both significant and memorable. After the final examinations the students entered into the last moments of the school fellowship with unusual solemnity. On Friday evening T. R. Torkelson, president of the Northwest Union Mission, called the entire school to deeper dedication of purpose and life so that in the spirit of the class motto they might all move forward "Conquering for Christ." The Sabbath morning sermon by the division president called for a diligent application of the principles of the school and all responded with eager heart to a life of singular purpose and objective.
Perhaps one of the richest experiences came Sabbath afternoon when Duane Johnson, division secretary, led in a special service celebrating the Lord's Supper. Never shall we forget the blending of heart with heart in this beautiful brotherhood as unitedly we sang, "Blest Be the Tie." The climax came on Saturday night when Elder Yost presented the certificates to the students, who, happily gathering to themselves their well-earned recognitions, turned their faces to the farthest recesses of the division, determined to herald the gospel of our Lord with courage, zeal, and greater skill. With such a faithful army of workers as there are in Southern Asia the church has little to fear except as we shall fail to match their zeal, enthusiasm, and consecration. We pray for and believe a new day is at hand for the progress of the cause in these great Eastern lands.