Pacific Union College's old campus in Healdsburg, California. Source: Wikipedia
We might call the 1890s the decade of Adventist education. Beginning with the revival at Minneapolis in 1888 and running up through the start of the educational reformation at the Harbor Springs Convention in 1891 and flowing into the Avondale experiment and the elementary school movement, the 1890s would shape Adventism educationally for the rest of its stay on earth.
And we haven’t even yet talked about the mission explosion of the 1890s that took Adventism and its educational system quite literally to every corner of the globe. Nor have we explored the impact of the Avondale model on Adventist schools in other parts of the world.
One small aspect of that influence was the making of Adventist education at the secondary and higher education levels into a largely rural system. E.A. Sutherland and P.T. Morgan, for example, transferred Battle Creek College from its restricted campus to the “wilds” of Berrien Springs, Michigan, where it became Emmanuel Missionary College in 1901. Likewise, the directors of Healdsburg College moved the institution during the early twentieth century to the top of Howell Mountain, where it became Pacific Union College. Not only were the institutions isolated from the problems of the city (as students at Pacific Union College in the early 1960s, we quipped that the school was located 10 miles from the nearest known sin), but they were both built on hundreds of acres of land.
And so it was with Adventist education around the world. The reverberations from Avondale have never ceased. And they have had some interesting side effects. As population increases have expanded the cities and pressured land prices, Seventh-day Adventist schools often find themselves on priceless property holdings that they could never hope to purchase in today’s market.
God has led His people in unique and special ways. When we survey the various aspects of the Adventist program around the world, we can only praise His name for the guidance He has given in our past history. Now we need to pray that we might have the conviction and the courage to follow His direction in present history.
Father, help us to be as responsive to your leading as the reformers of past eras.
George R. Knight is a retired professor of Church History at the Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. This article is from his book, Lest We Forget, a daily devotional, published by the Review and Herald Publishing Association, page 310. Reprinted with permission.