Seated with a group of inquiring students in the dining room while visiting one of our colleges, I was asked, "Have you been to all our colleges?" and then the pointed question, "Which do you think is the best?"
I side-stepped the question by suggesting that it was a bit unfair for me to attempt an answer, since I, too, was the product of one of these schools. But I did suggest, and to this all agreed, that all our schools are the best places in all the -world for our Adventist youth in preparation for life's great issues and responsibilities. And I ventured further, with complete sincerity, that the youth in our schools, by and large, are the best young people in all the world. I heard no objection.
A visit to the campuses of our colleges is a real inspiration. These colleges have grown larger in recent years. The burdens of administration have likewise become heavier. We are living in difficult times for our youth. Many who come have not had the background of an Adventist home or the privileges of our elementary and secondary schools. The task of molding the youth is tremendous.
The scholastic offerings in our schools have been greatly broadened to meet the varied objectives and plans of the youth. Not all will find places in the denomination's paid working force, but all, with training, inspiration, and dedication, can do much for the advancement of the work in whatever line to which they devote their lives. Truly there is a place of service for each one.
My purpose in visiting all our senior colleges annually is primarily to contact the students of the theological departments. The pattern of minimum training for the denomination's ministry in North America, as agreed upon by its leadership in the 1953 Autumn Council and reaffirmed in the 1954 Autumn Council, is the completion of a five-year ministerial training course, four years of which are to be taken in the senior college and the fifth in the Seminary. (It should perhaps be added that the Seminary offers two years beyond this fifth year, the completion of which is recognized by the B.D. degree—that is, the Bachelor of Divinity degree, the standard accepted degree of theological seminaries.) My purpose in these visits is not to "recruit" enrollment in the Seminary. This guidance is given by the college teachers who know the students best and who are therefore in a position to counsel them as to their future area of service.
However, there are many questions on the part of those who should come. When to come, what to bring, where to live, opportunities for partial employment, what courses to pursue—all are large problems on which help is sought and the path made clearer. The Seminary has tried to make the way easier by meeting a portion of the transportation for those living long distances from Washington; by providing eighty-two apartments, most of which are furnished and for which nominal rents are charged; by listing available rooms for rent in the community for single students, and work opportunities for those who are self-financed and require employment. These are services for the student, to make easier what might otherwise be a heavy undertaking.
Unfortunately there has been uncertainty on the part of many as to what course they should pursue in preparation for service, owing to lack of full acceptance of the 1953 and 1954 Autumn Council actions. Plans are in hand for further study of the problems, with a view to reaching a unified plan not later than the 1956 Autumn Council. While we are not in a position to forecast future attitudes, it seems clear that plans will be agreed upon for a more adequate training of our ministry, which must envision one or more years of study in the Theological Seminary. To this task of serving our youth and in turn providing the church with a better-trained ministry to match the demands of this hour, the Seminary faculty is united in its dedication.
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