75th Anniversary Historical Review Part II


This development was welcomed

April 17, 1897

“April 17th dawned cloudy, with rain, but after early morning prayer at the Gospel Tabernacle in New York City, all started for Nyack Heights as scheduled.  By three o’clock when the services began, a brisk wind had dried all the countryside and the sun was shining.  Dr. Simpson gave the dedication and consecration prayer, and Dr. J. A. Davis of Nyack’s First Presbyterian Church delivered the memorial address.  Monday’s Nyack Journal reveals that “the following articles were placed in the cornerstone: A Bible and New Testament, Missionary reports, Manuals of the Alliance, coins of the present year, tracts and hymns, the Nyack Evening and Rockland County Journals, Nyack Star, New York Herald, Times, Tribune, a list of teachers, officers and students of the  Institute, and scripture texts.”

This development was certainly welcomed by the town and townspeople, as evidenced by this editorial in April 17, 1897, Nyack Evening Journal. “In behalf of the people of Nyack we extend a hearty welcome to the Christian & Missionary Alliance, the cornerstone of whose building is to be laid with appropriate ceremony this afternoon.

“We are glad the Alliance is to establish their Home upon Nyack Heights. They intend to develop this handsome region which they have purchased, and in their enterprise we promise them the hearty co-operation of Nyack people.” To the mount had come prayer and blessing.

The Holy Spirit jealousy guarded the college.  He guided the right men in the development for her life.  Godly Dr. F. W. Farr became the Institute’s first academic dean when the first school year at Nyack began in October 24, 1897.

When Dr. Farr became the Vice President, and Dr. W. C. Stevens assumed the post of principal of the school, Dr. George P. Pardington, brilliant and deeply spiritual, Dr. A. E. Funk, dedicated and beloved, and Dr. J. Hudson Ballard, gifted and discerning (who in 1906 organized Wilson Memorial Academy), were among the early leaders.

With the inception of Wilson Memorial Academy, Christian education was available for the young lives beginning with the high school years, and many who attended the Academy went on through the Institute to become missionaries of their Lord.

Still the Institute grew. In 1907, Wilson Hall was built, first being used for the academy, and then a dormitory for single men, and later married couples.  In 1909, Pardington Hall was constructed, whose confines housed classrooms where more than mere academic learning was acquired, and a chapel, where many far-reaching decisions were made for Jesus Christ.  In 1910, Bissell Hall was erected to house single men and married couples.

Meanwhile, educational perspectives widened with the establishment of a junior college department, which functioned for three years, and an envisioned three-year seminary course, which project, however did not come to fruition.

During these years of formation and early growth, men and women of true spiritual vision were sent by God to be part of the family and faculty of the Institute.

Examples of Vibrant faith

In the earliest days, men of great spiritual stature, such as Dr. Arthur T. Pierson, Dr. George F. Pentecost, Dr. A. J., Gordon, and Rev. Kenneth MacKenzie taught at the school.  Later years saw men such as Dr. Henry Wilson, Dr. C. I. Scofield, Rev. H. L. Mershon, Rev. Stephen Merritt, Rev. James M. Gray, and Rev. J. D. Williams labor on the Hillside, as they taught the truths of God.

Missionary League of Nations

Dedicated and loving women were part of the Nyack ministry also, such as Miss Waterbury, one of the earliest instructors, and Mrs. C. D. Fields, a teacher.  The oversight, mothering, and practical evangelistic training of hundreds of Nyack girls will be long remembered as directed by Institute “housemothers.”  Mrs. A. A. Kork, at the turn of the century; Mrs. J. D. Williams, who served 1914-15; Mrs. Cora R. Turnbull, much beloved of her girls, who served from 1916-21; Miss E. Hoffman, 1921-25; Miss Sara O. Gardner, 1925-26; Mrs. C. L. Eicher, 1926-27; Miss Mary F. Parmenter 1927-28; Miss Margaret Scheirich, 1928-29; Miss Marie Freligh, 1929-30; and another faculty wife, Mrs. A. D. Pardington, who faithfully served as Registrar for ten years, 1915-25.

More inspiration to, and examples of vibrant faith, duty, and trust were seen daily in the lives of Mrs. M. B. Birrel, Mrs. K. D. Garrison, and Mrs. E. R. Dunbar.  These last two godly women are still living here on the Hillside with us.

The procession of men testifies to the frailty of man, and though he lives a fruitful life, even this must end.  Praying, working, guiding, teaching, motivating men with ideals and vision – always vision – after years of “abounding in the work of the Lord,” Albert Benjamin Simpson was called home to be with his Lord on Wednesday, October 29, 1919.  Having been deeply loved, Dr. Simpson was mourned, but grief was only that natural void which comes with the loss of a cherished friend and leader.  The first president of the Missionary Training Institute was followed by other able men.

Rev. Paul Rader, dynamic and intense, served from 1919-24; Dr. F. H. Senft faithfully directed from 1924-26; Rev. H. M. Shuman ministered from 1926-40, and is still President Emeritus of the C.&M.A. Those who have served as major officers of the school were J. D. Williams, Home Superintendent, 1914-15; W. M. Turnbull, Dean 1915-22; C. L. Eicher, Acting Dean, 1922-23, and Dean 1923-27; John H. Cable, Dean, 1929-40, Principal, 1927-29, and Dean of the Faculty, 1929; K. D. Garrison, Superintendent and Treasurer, 1927-29 (and with us still as a greatly beloved teacher); M. B. Birrel, Superintendent, 1930-32; E. R. Dunbar (the revered “Duke”), Superintendent 1932-39.  There are names which have not been mentioned, but in the hearts of students in many lands of the glove, their “image loved will last.”

The aim, the training, and purpose, and the spiritual emphasis of the Missionary Training Institute have been zealously guarded that they might be in accord with the Spirit of God and befit the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The school motto is “The Whole Bible to the Whole World.” To accomplish this divine task, Dr. Simpson, as he said, dedicated Nyack to the principles of  “a living God, a living Christ, and a supernatural faith.  We stand for a superhuman Book, for a supernatural life, for a supernatural work, dependent entirely upon the Master and the power of the Spirit.”

With this standard before them, the school’s leaders developed a program which provided for special training, intellectually and spiritually. The course of study included three departments, the Literary Department, the Theological Department, and the Practical Department.  To foster the original and primary aim, that is, the preparation of young men and women for foreign missionary service, certain features have been blessed an integral part of every student’s life here at Nyack.

Simpson Funeral Procession

The first of these features is the Friday night missionary service, conducted by the student Missionary Committee.  Their privilege is to bring an informative and challenging program before the student body each week, and to stimulate dedication and zeal for the foreign mission service of the Lord.  Also, there is the feature of the missionary prayer bands, representing eight mission fields: South America, Africa, the Islands, the Near East, Indo-China, India, China, and the World.  To the missions emphasis is added wholesome physical development in a full program of sports, nourishing meals, and adequate sleep.  God has need of physically fit and spiritually fit men.

1940 – That was a memorable year in the history of the school, a year in which a man of vision, leadership, and strength of purpose was to undertake the task of directing Nyack’s progress.  It was also a year in which a man loved and respected by students and faculty alike, a man so often called by that familiar yet respectful title ‘The Duke’ was to become the Vice President.  It was an important year, a year in which the changes made would lay a solid foundation for the future development of the school.  The changes that year were the foreshadowing of greater things to come, for during 1940 – Dr. Thomas Moseley became President-Dean of the Missionary Training Institute; Rev. E. R. Dunbar became Vice President; and the school was reorganized into four departments; namely, Theology, Missions, Christian Education and Sacred Music.

Looking back over the period that followed one notices that enrollment increased rapidly, even though a world was in chaos and our nation was held in the vise-like grip of war.

Memories of years that follow

Nevertheless, an ever-present all-knowing Heavenly Father was calling forth young people into His service, preparing them for the momentous task that awaited them in the future; for God knew, while holy intercessors prayed and trusted, that the doors would open once again, that some doors would open only briefly to be slammed shut once more by Communism, that others would be flung wide to permit the missionary to gaze upon a new vista of souls, perishing, lost in the darkness of sin.  This, God’s guiding hand was upon the school in those years.  He knew how important a part the accredited educational school or college would play in the future work of the missionary, and how it would affect his entering the open doors of the fields; therefore, in 1943 by God’s leading the school took another step forward.

A provisional charter was received from the New York Board of regents, and The Missionary Training Institute’s curriculum was registered by the New York State Education Department.

Growing…growing…growing.  There were better educational facilities, and more young people called out and chosen of God to labor in His vineyard.  On the hillside the frequent question was asked, “More new students this year?” The answer always, “Yes,” and always the reply, “Praise God for the increase!” But yet another question, a question that posed a problem, a question that challenged ingenuity: “Where shall we put them?” How shall we accommodate these students sent us by the Lord?  With Simpson Hall filled to the brim, with students, and the enrollment increasing yearly, a step in faith was needed.  Again God led those able men who were overseeing the progress of His school, and –

Dr. Moseley and the plans
for Christie Hall

In 1945 Christie Hall was built to accommodate the young ladies who had been and were being called into the Master’s service.

Memories of the years that follow indicate an academic growth of the School, a growth that enabled those from the Mount of prayer and blessing to go forth better equipped to minister to the needs of a dying world. The year after Christie Hall was built the school’s charter was amended, authorizing Nyack to grant the Bachelor of Theology, the Bachelor of Christian Education, and the Bachelor of Sacred Music degrees.

Under God’s anointing

Accreditation in 1948

In 1948 the Missionary Training Institute was accredited as a Bible Institute and was received into the newly formed Accrediting Association of Bible Institutes and Bible Colleges in Chicago.

However, progress did not cease with this answer to prayer, for  under God’s anointing and guidance the school continued to grow and develop; and in 1953 Nyack was authorized to grant the Bachelor of Science degree.  But growth along educational lines was not the only type of expansion to take place, for during this period a new type of growth also appeared.  One the second floor of Simpson Hall was a room robed in silence with signs reading “Quite please!” and “No talking” set in prominent places where students would be sure to see them.  The library at that time consisted of only one room, and problems arose as the librarians tried to fit a growing stock of books and an increasing student body into a limited space.  But once again God marvelously intervened on behalf of the school and in answer to prayer provided “a way of escape.”

Shuman Hall Purchase

In 1954, spacious Shuman Hall, known as Sky Island, was purchased as the new library building.

A few years after this momentous event a new and interesting subject became the topic of campus conversation.  The subject was a name for the school.  Should it be called the Nyack Bible College or the Missionary Training College?  Perhaps Nyack Missionary College would be better?  Which would it be?

God’s hand was still upon the school as He led those in authority to prepare to meet the demands of a changing world, to answer the cry that slowly rose from the far corners of the globe – the cry “Send us your best!” To this cry Nyack did not turn a deaf ear, for a God-given awareness of the task that faced both the missionary on the field and the pastor in the homeland was present among the administrators of the school.  On the mission field problems concerning nationalism and the indigenous church came clearly into focus, while on the home front a period of “intellectualism” was sweeping the country.  To meet these needs it was necessary to send forth ambassadors for Christ who were not only spiritually fortified and strengthened but who were equally well trained and learned “in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.”  To aid in directing progress along these lines in 1948 two Spirit-filled, godly men were elevated to administrative positions – Rev. H. M. Freligh to Vice President and Dr. H. W. Boon to Academic Dean.  The actual results of the prayer, faith, and diligent labors of those who had caught a vision of the need to graduate students from a recognized school were realized when –

A Memorial to Abiding Faith

Excitement prevailed on the campus as students gathered in groups to discuss the news and as faculty members considered the possibilities.  In keeping with the rapid advancement of the school and its higher educational standards, Nyack was no longer an institute but a college; therefore a change in the school name was necessary.  With the purpose of the school firmly in mind – that of training missionaries for service on the foreign field – a name was decided upon.  Everyone waited eagerly in a high state of suspense for the decision: it was announced to the student body as they were assembled for chapel on fine spring day.

In 1956 the Missionary Training Institute became Nyack Missionary College.  Yes, 1956 was certainly an improved year in the history of the school.  In addition to our new title, Nyack Missionary College, the school also acquired a new tract of land, the Clarkstown Country Club property, which now serves as a boys’ dormitory.  This building, though frequently referred to as Uncle Tom’s Cabin by its residents, now has the official title, Moseley Hall.   Not only does this building represent a new step of faith on the part of the administrators, but it also stands as a memorial to the fervent prayer, abiding faith, and visionary foresight which have characterized the leaders of the school throughout the seventy-five years since its founding by Dr. Simpson in 1882.  From the halls of Nyack, students have gone forth to the far corners of the world, bearing courageously the light of the gospel to those who sit in darkness and giving a witness for Christ.

Truly God’s blessing has rested in a peculiar way upon the Mount of prayer and blessing, for upon this hilltop stands a school whose beams have reached around the world, penetrating heathen darkness and bringing Christ into the hearts of dying men and women.  That school is a school dedicated to God.  That school is in a very real way God’s school, belonging to Him and existing only that Christ might be magnified and lifted up that He may draw all men unto Himself.  The school is Nyack Missionary College.

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