For the first time an extension school of the Theological Seminary has been held in the Australasian Division. It opened on December 8, 1957, and the closing exercises were held on January 28, 1958. More than ninety workers from the younger age group were sponsored by their employing organizations. A high spiritual and scholastic tone was maintained throughout. The students were deeply conscious of the benefits and blessings conferred upon them. Satisfaction with the school was expressed by the student body, and by responsible officers of employing organizations.
The school provided opportunity to revive the study habit, which is so vital to an efficient ministry. It also provided for the acceptance of methods and procedure leading to larger, wider evangelism. We are confident that those who were privileged to attend will render more efficient service, and see larger fruitage for their labors.
Perhaps no better evaluation of the school could be given than that provided by one of the students, Pastor W. R. L. Scragg. He writes as follows:
"From the very first morning the tone of the Theological Seminary Extension School held at the Australasian Missionary College, Cooranbong, was marked with a deep and earnest desire to come to know Christ more intimately. Setting the keynote for the school, its director, Dr. Edward Heppenstall, professor of Systematic Theology, challenged the students with the concept of the world, the church, and individuals waiting for the love of Christ. Despite the emphasis on study and reading and, finally, examinations, this note held to the closing exercises, when Dr. Heppenstall again challenged the students to cling to the central truths and meet the great need of the hour with consecrated work and study.
"Attending the school were students from all conferences and from each of the union missions. Old friendships were quickly re-established among the men as they found comrades from college days. New friendships were formed as names known from reports in the Australasian Record became personalities. What a privilege for each to share incidents of God's leading through the years1 Many thrilling worship periods conducted by the workers brought news of experiences of conversions, miracles of healing, and adventures in the mission field. Messages from the six missionaries present were especially valued, "The director of the school, Dr. Heppenstall, is a man of keen intellect and ready mind. Grace, Law, and Covenants, and the Doctrine of the Sanctuary, were his two subjects. Each student was expected to think for himself, and new approaches to these important doctrines were brought to light.
"Christ-centered Preaching and Evangelistic Procedures were taught by Pastor M. K. Eckenroth, then professor of Practical Theology from the Seminary. This godly and experienced evangelist opened new visions of what God can accomplish through a consecrated worker who centers his method and teaching in Christ.
"Third in the Seminary team was Pastor A. L. White. How privileged were the students to hear from him thrilling stories of the leadership of God in the establishment and guidance of His work! Many gained a new estimate of the value and use of the Spirit of prophecy through his able ministry.
"The high light of Pastor White's visit was a tour, conducted by him, of the places of interest connected with the establishment of Avondale. It was thrilling to walk again the very ground where the pioneers had stood in planning for the college.
"Seven and a half weeks fled by all too quickly, and it was with a sense of regret but with many hallowed memories, and with a burning desire to be better men and women for God, that the students turned from the halls of Avondale. Many expressed the wish that not too long might elapse before another school should be conducted. All paid tribute to the value of the study and spiritual leadership given. The strain of studying up to twelve hours day after day was great, but not one complaint was heard concerning the intensity of the course.
"Without doubt the field as a whole will benefit as the results of the study are put into practice in church and evangelistic endeavor."