From Opposition to Opening: The Story of How Evangel College Came to Be: 1914-1955, by Barry H. Corey. Springfield, MO: Evangel University Press, 2005.
Evangel College (now Evangel University), the first liberal arts college in the Assemblies of God, opened its doors in 1955. From its small beginnings, the school has become a leading Pentecostal educational institution. Its student body today numbers over 1,800, and its graduates serve in leadership roles in business, ministry, academia, entertainment, and government.
From Opposition to Opening is the story of the people “who dreamed, negotiated, prayed, jockeyed, and believed Evangel College into existence.” Four leaders figure prominently in this history: Ralph M. Riggs, J. Robert Ashcroft, Klaude Kendrick, and Thomas F. Zimmerman. They and many others passionately pursued educational progress, despite, as Corey tells it, “the hollering from pulpits and pews denouncing liberal arts education.” This book is divided into five sections: 1) the origins of AG higher education, 1914-1942; 2) the “floundering years” during the liberal arts college debate, 1943-1947; 3) the “flourishing years” during the liberal arts college debate; 4) the “floundering months” following approval, 1953-1954; and 5) the “flourishing months” once Evangel College finally opened, 1954-1955. From Opposition to Opening recounts the story leading up to Evangel College’s establishment. A history of the school as it developed remains to be written.
This book, a revision of the author’s Ph.D. dissertation (Boston College, 1992), was published for Evangel University’s golden anniversary in 2005. Not only does Corey explore the particular origins of one school, he provides an insightful study into how, more broadly, the Assemblies of God has struggled with a suspicion within its ranks of higher education. This book will be of interest to all alumni and friends of Evangel, as well as to those who care about the development of Pentecostal educational institutions.
Reviewed by Darrin Rodgers.
Paperback, xii, 206 pages, illustrated. $19.95, plus shipping. Order from: Institutional Advancement Office, Evangel University, 1111 N. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, MO 65802. Ph. 417-865-2811, Ext. 7290.