Nyack’s founder is widely recognized as one of the foremost figures in the American missionary movement. Dr. A.B. Simpson resigned a prestigious New York City pastorate to develop an interdenominational fellowship devoted to serving unreached people. Simpson’s view was shared by a wide group of men and women, including mainline church leaders, laborers, and theological scholars. This ever-growing alliance was bound together by a desire to inspire the church to fulfill its Great Commission of world evangelization.
An important step towards making their vision a reality was the founding of a training school for missionaries (the Missionary Training Institute), the first Bible college in North America. This school was the forerunner of Nyack College. Thus, from its beginning in New York City in 1882, NYACK has been devoted to the concept of education as preparation for service. After purchasing 28 acres on a picturesque hillside, in 1897 the school moved to the village of South Nyack, New York. In 1956 the school was renamed Nyack Missionary College and then in 1972 changed to Nyack College to reflect the total program of the college.
Alliance Theological Seminary, previously the Jaffray School of Missions, was founded as a graduate program of Nyack College in 1960. The Jaffray School of Missions emphasized the interdisciplinary encounter between theology and the social sciences. In 1974, the Jaffray program was redesigned to include the preparation of students for North American as well as overseas ministries. The name of the school was subsequently changed to the Alliance School of Theology and Missions. In September of 1979, the Alliance School of Theology and Missions became Alliance Theological Seminary (ATS). Increased course offerings and additional faculty have enhanced the seminary’s commitment to the worldwide evangelistic task of the church. This commitment has permeated all facets of its program.
Returning to its roots, in 1995 NYACK established a satellite program in lower Manhattan. By 1997, Alliance Theological Seminary classes were offered there as well. The goal of the New York City campus is to make studies accessible to those who work in the city and to provide a thoroughly urban context for theological education. Today NYACK—College, Seminary, Graduate Schools–continues to fulfill the vision of its founder by offering traditional and non-traditional undergraduate and graduate programs to a co-educational, ethnically diverse student body.
The Christian and Missionary Alliance, the sponsoring denomination, was formed in 1887 when Simpson, while starting the Missionary Training Institute, founded two organizations, the Christian Alliance (an interdenominational fellowship of Christians dedicated to experiencing the deeper Christian life) and the Evangelical Missionary Alliance (a missionary sending organization). The two merged in 1897 and became The Christian and Missionary Alliance. The Christian and Missionary Alliance recognizes ATS as the denomination’s official seminary in the United States.