Tag Archives: Higher Education

P.C. Nelson’s 1934 Plea for Liberal Arts Education in the Assemblies of God

PCNelson1This Week in AG History — June 16, 1934

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 15 June 2017

Peter C. (P. C.) Nelson, an Assemblies of God educator and theologian, made an eloquent plea for Pentecostal schools to develop curriculum in the liberal arts and to train students for non-ministry vocations in a 1934 Pentecostal Evangel article. Up to that point, all Assemblies of God colleges focused on the training of people for ministry. Nelson noted that increasing numbers of Assemblies of God young people have an “anointing of the Spirit for doing a worthy work in other fields besides that of the ministry.”

Nelson warned readers that the “moral and spiritual conditions in most schools and colleges” cause many Pentecostal young people to abandon the faith. “If we want our young people to remain loyal to our movement,” Nelson wrote, “our fellowship must provide instruction for them along all branches of study.” He envisioned new liberal arts and technical courses that would train teachers, musicians, businesspeople, stenographers, accountants, engineers, architects, carpenters, masons, auto mechanics, and printers.

Where would this new school be located? Nelson suggested that Central Bible College, the national ministerial training school of the Assemblies of God, located in Springfield, Missouri, would be an ideal location. He recommended that its facilities be enlarged so that it could train even more ministers and also add a liberal arts curriculum.

Nelson was not alone in his support for the development of a broader Pentecostal curriculum that would include a liberal arts education. His article received the unanimous support of the Executive Presbytery. There was a growing recognition that the Assemblies of God should develop educational programs for training young people in fields other than vocational ministry. Nelson began his article by pointing out that the Assemblies of God constitution, adopted in 1927, included the following paragraph: “The General Council shall be in sympathy with the establishment and maintenance of academic schools for the children of our constituency.”

Although Nelson did not mention it in his article, this vision for a Pentecostal liberal arts curriculum dated back to the founding of the Assemblies of God. The “Call to Hot Springs” — the open invitation to all Pentecostal “elders, pastors, ministers, evangelists and missionaries” to attend the first General Council of the Assemblies of God — enumerated five purposes for the meeting. The fifth purpose was “to lay before the body for a General Bible Training School with a literary department for our people.” The phrase “literary department” was a 19th– and early-20th-century term that roughly corresponds to “liberal arts” today.

Nelson’s call for Central Bible College to train ministers alongside laypersons was not realized during his lifetime. However, other Assemblies of God Bible schools began expanding their curriculum. North Central Bible Institute (now North Central University, Minneapolis, Minnesota) added a two-year business college in 1938. Southwestern Bible College (now Southwestern Assemblies of God University, Waxahachie, Texas), the school founded by Nelson, opened a junior college in 1944. Northwest Bible Institute (now Northwest University, Kirkland, Washington) also added a junior college in 1955. That same year, the Assemblies of God established its new national liberal arts school, Evangel College (now Evangel University), in Springfield, Missouri.

Nelson encouraged readers to invest in Assemblies of God young people who possess “real sterling character, native ability, and spirituality.” The value of Pentecostal schools, asserted Nelson, “exceeds the cost…No investment will pay a larger dividend.”

Read the entire article by P. C. Nelson, “Enlarging Our Educational Facilities,” on page 7 of the June 16, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Finishing Our Course,” by Zelma Argue

* “Are the Gifts of the Spirit for Today?” by Otto J. Klink

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Early Assemblies of God Schools: Training for Life and Service

Pages from 1917_11_17
This Week in AG History–November 17, 1917
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Tue, 18 Nov 2014 – 10:13 AM CST

From the outset, the Assemblies of God promoted the development of educational institutions. The fifth purpose of the “Call to Hot Springs” (the open invitation to Pentecostals to organize what became the Assemblies of God) was “to lay before the body for a General Bible Training School with a literary department for our people.” The phrase “literary department” was used in the 19th and early 20th centuries and roughly corresponds to a “liberal arts school” today. The Assemblies of God was formed, in part, to encourage both ministerial training and liberal arts education.

Initially, the Assemblies of God endorsed several small regional schools. Delegates to the first general council in April 1914 unanimously adopted a resolution that endorsed two schools – one Bible school (The Gospel School, Findlay, Ohio) and one literary school (Neshoba Holiness School, Union, Mississippi). The Ohio school trained ministers and the Mississippi school was a high school that included both liberal arts and technical education.

Assemblies of God leaders recognized the need to train their young people for life and service. In a September 1915 Word and Witness article encouraging parents to send their children to Ozark Bible and Literary School, D. C. O. Opperman wrote:

“Parents! Think of getting your Children out of the corruption of the public schools into a clean good school where God is honored, under teachers, who not only are real instructors, but who love and serve God, are consecrated, Spirit-filled and are thoroughly in love with their work. The teachers that God is sending are not the cheap, shoddy, no account class, they are able, gifted, college bred, experienced, and sent of God. Praise Him! The school itself, we believe is a plan of God, and is a part of His eternal purpose.”

Both the Ohio and Mississippi schools were short-lived. The Assemblies of God endorsement of the Neshoba Holiness School lasted until 1915, when its principal, R. B. Chisolm, left to start a new school, Ozark Bible and Literary School in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The endorsement of The Gospel School lasted until 1917, when that school merged into Mount Tabor Bible Training School, located in Chicago. The Assemblies of God endorsed each of the successor institutions, which it encouraged its young people to attend.

The November 17, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel published an article about Mount Tabor Bible Training School, which was sponsored by Bethel Temple, a large Assemblies of God congregation in Chicago. A photograph of the church’s impressive stone edifice accompanied the article, noting that the school’s urban location provided numerous opportunities for employment and ministry. Practical ministry opportunities abounded: “Missions, Bible Classes in private homes, teaching in Sunday Schools, street work, hospitals, prisons and other institutions, rescue work, visiting the sick and others in need, and in any other ministry to which a door may be opened.”

Mount Tabor was “a school where the entire Bible is believed and taught,” according to the article. Furthermore, “No fads, nor new issues” were welcome at the school. This was a clear to reference to the anti-Trinitarian teachings (also called “New Issue” or Oneness) that caused a large number of ministers to leave the Assemblies of God the previous year. Assemblies of God schools, from the earliest years of the Fellowship, provided young people and budding ministers with balanced biblical education and practical experience in ministry.

Read the article, ” Mount Tabor Bible Training School” on pages 15 and 16 of the November 17, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Sad Effects of the War on the Persian Pentecostal Saints,” by Andrew Urshan

* “Open Doors in Mexico,” by Alice E. Luce

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

“Pentecostal Evangel” archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Review: From Opposition to Opening

From Opposition to Opening

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. Continue reading

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