The Scriptural admonition to "lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes" is wise counsel for every branch of the Lord's work in these last days. Particularly fitting is this for our Theological Seminary, the capstone of our denomination's educational structure.
Operated first as the Advanced Bible School, on the campus of Pacific Union College, during the summers of 1934, '35, and '36, its primary purpose was to provide advanced training for academy and college Bible teachers.
During its early years it was operated with a borrowed faculty—teachers whose primary responsibility was full-time service in other institutions. Teachers from our senior colleges and the staff of the General Conference were drawn on heavily for teaching assignments. So successful was this new undertaking in meeting the recognized need that the 1936 General Conference in session voted that this should become a permanent institution, and that it be located in Washington, D.C.
With the passing of the years, conviction deepened that not only the denomination's Bible teachers should receive advanced training, but the ministry likewise should receive a more adequate training for its work. With this as an objective, progressive steps have been taken to build up a strong faculty to strengthen our "stakes." The General Conference has been faithful in extending financial support consistent with our growing work.
The Seminary building erected in 1941 for a limited enrollment is now bursting at the seams, making necessary the holding of classes in nearby buildings. Land has been purchased for the relocation of the Seminary as soon as funds can be provided for the erection of classrooms, administrative offices, chapel, and library. Already the Seminary has built one apartment dormitory, having twenty-two one- and two-bedroom apartments, thus bringing the total number of apartments it has available for married students to eighty-two.
But the physical plant is of lesser importance. The courses offered and the teaching staff determine the worth-whileness of any educational institution. These two have been greatly strengthened. The work of the Seminary has been reorganized into five departments: Old Testament, New Testament, Church History, Systematic Theology, and Practical Theology.
Students may major in any one of nine fields: Archeology and History of Antiquity, Bible and Systematic Theology, Biblical Greek, Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Languages, Church History, Counseling and Guidance, Practical Theology, and Preaching and Speech.
Successful completion of outlined work, in which there is opportunity for wide election of courses, leads to the regular Seminary degree known as the Bachelor of Divinity, or B.D., degree. This requires not less than ten quarters of work. The M.A. degree is granted in recognition of the completion of outlined courses that usually require four quarters' work.
The faculty, too, has been greatly strengthened. Bold steps have been taken to bring together some of the denomination's best teachers. The faculty now consists of sixteen members, together with a number of guest and visiting instructors drawn from the General Conference and from sister institutions in the area. Guest teachers from our senior colleges are also utilized in the teaching program. In a later issue we will introduce them to the readers of THE MINISTRY.
The cords, too, have likewise been lengthened. The influence of the Seminary already reaches out to the very ends of the earth. Its slogan, "From all the world to all the world," is no idle phrase. One year the student body included representatives from forty-four countries. One of the immeasurable blessings of Seminary attendance is the association and fellowship with students from so many lands. Mission appointees, missionaries on furlough, and national representatives from many lands help to make Seminary life a rich and treasured experience.
But the blessings are not alone for those who are able to come to us. Seminary Extension Schools, where Seminary teachers have been sent to conduct a six- to ten-week intensive course of training for workers in our overseas divisions, have been carried on with deep satisfactions to the fields served. Already such schools have been conducted in England, South America, Mexico, Jamaica, Trinidad, South Africa, France, and India, and as this is written one is being held in Manila for the workers of the Far Eastern Division. Reports now in hand indicate an enrollment of 170 of the workers of that field. Many others desired and expected to come, but were prevented by financial limitations or visa difficulties.
Thus the influence of the Seminary is reaching out. Its cords have been lengthened. We believe that this institution is destined to fill an increasingly important place in the closing work. To this great and glorious task the Seminary faculty is fully dedicated.