50 years for the Center on Ministry

50 years for the Center on Ministry

Aug 26, 2013

50 years for the Center on Ministry

by Gordon Lawton


p17 Summ Instit 64


On August 17, 1962 the SDB Center on Ministry was formed when delegates to the General Conference adopted the recommendations from Commission and the Committee on Ministerial Training.

Recommendation #1 had the Conference “Notify Alfred University of its intention to discontinue support of the Alfred University School of Theology effective June 30, 1963…” Recommendation #3 established a Council on Ministerial Training, and recommendation #6 authorized that “council, in consultation with the Commission, to employ the Director effective Jan 1, 1963, or as soon thereafter as possible.”

Rev. Victor Skaggs was employed beginning June 1, 1963 (part-time until the end of June 1964 when he began full-time) as the Dean for the Center for Ministerial Education.

In the 1963 report of the Council on Ministerial Education (COME), it was noted that Edward Sutton was enrolled at Crozer Theological Seminary for the fall 1963 and that Herbert E. Saunders, who had been attending at Alfred, was seeking admission to Colgate-Rochester for the fall of 1963. The 1964 yearbook listed Glen Warner as a student enrolled at Andover-Newton and that he and Ed Sutton had been first-year students. Two of these first three students are still serving SDB churches: Herb Saunders at Madison, WI, and Ed Sutton at Salemville, PA.

The first Summer Institute was in SDB Polity and representatives to CoWoCo—the predecessor of the World Federation—were able to participate in the class. Those who took the institute were Paul Beebe (USA), Otrain Manani (Africa), Glen Warner (USA), Naval Harley (Jamaica), Ed Sutton (USA), James McGeachy (England), Dean Skaggs, Jacob Tyrrell (Guyana), and Joe Samuels (Jamaica).

The name was changed from COME to Council on Ministry (COM) in 1971 by adopting recommendation #3 of Commission. Since 1962 the Council on Ministry (formerly COME) has been responsible for the ministry of the Center on Ministry (formerly COME). The two are so closely connected that the distinction is seldom important.

There have been 87 students in the Seminary Education program from 1963-2013. Forty-five are still in ministry with SDBs as a Pastor, Executive, working with the World Federation, or as an endorsed Chaplain. Six have died, seven are retired and not serving as a Pastor. If you consider that a Master of Divinity degree takes three years minimum then there have been, on average, over 5 students each year in the Seminary Education Program each of the last 50 years. (87 x 3 years = 261 / 50 = 5.22 students per year.)

That first Council on Ministerial Education was composed of two pastors and four educators. They were: Rev. Earl Cruzan (Chairman), Rev. Delmer E. Van Horn, K. Duane Hurley, Richard R. Bond, J. Leland Skaggs and Melvin G. Nida. The current Council on Ministry is composed of: Gabriel Graffius (Chairman), Patti Wethington, Barb Green, Rev. Matt Olson, Rev. Robert Van Horn, Rev. Ken Chroniger.

A total of 44 SDBs have served on the Council since it was created in 1962. The longest serving tenure belongs to Rev. Edgar Wheeler who served for 18 years (six 3-year terms) and served as the chair also for the longest time of 13 years (1985-1998). Earl Cruzan served as chair for 12 years (1962-1974), and Kenneth Burdick served as chair for 11 years (2001-2012).

Announcing Summer Institute 2014: Sabbath Theology.

Registration begins in October with a registration deadline of January 17, 2014.

On-line class begins February 9, 2014 with the week at the Center June 8-13, 2014.

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