A Brief History of CES
A Day at the Beach, An Aerial Show, and a Seminary
It was April of 1989. It was sunny and comfortably hot. A clear beautiful day. I was lounging on an outside deck in Moss Beach, CA., that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. Moss Beach is a small community on the San Mateo County coastline, about 25 miles south of San Francisco. To my delight, the local airport was putting on an aerial show. Various planes would fill the sky from time to time with their acrobatics. I marveled at the precision of the pilots' abilities as they took their planes into nose dives and loopty-loops. Various planes of various colors and some with multiple wings filled the sky, and through it all I had the constant view of the ocean as the background.
It was there, on that deck, that I sat in the warm sun, basking in the ambiance of my surroundings that I took pen and paper and began to sketch-out the basic idea of Columbia Evangelical Seminary (CES).
For the next two years, I worked on the development and design of CES, but I was not alone. I had felt "called" by God to start a school about a decade before, and with the development of each concept of CES, I felt God's gracious hand in the work. Not only did I "bathe" the concepts and development of CES in prayer, but I also sought the wisdom of others whom I respected. Among those that I consulted in those early days for information, comments, and viewpoints were, in no particular order, Dr. John Bear, Mike Buchanan, Rev. Gary Holde, Dr. Dick Craghead, and my wife, Sue. (There were others, but these were my primary "resources.")
Dr. John Bear was then and is still today the leading expert in distance learning education. Not only would I receive valuable input from Dr. Bear, but later he and I would become co-authors of a book on Christian distance learning that would help thousands of people in their pursuits of Christian higher education.
Mike Buchanan was (and is) a longtime friend whom I met at college in 1981. He served with me in my first pastorate. He was both my associate pastor and the music minister.
Rev. Gary Holde was an associate and youth pastor, having served many years before that as a senior pastor, and he later served with me as my associate pastor.
Dr. Dick Craghead was one of my professors in both my undergraduate and graduate programs at Warner Pacific College. He also served that college as their Dean of Faculty. He is an extremely knowledgeable man with deep convictions and a love for solid, Christian education.
Sue, my wife, is without a doubt the most stabilizing influence in my life. She is a woman of firm convictions, and she has an analytical and brilliant mind. Having been a Christian for as long as she can remember, she was willing then, as now, to allow me to pursue whatever aspect of ministry that God was leading me into. And, not only did she allow me to follow God's leading, but she backed me in every way possible. She has also allowed me to invest more than $50,000 of our personal money into the CES ministry; this says nothing of my lost wages for the first seven years of the school's existence. Truly, we are not "in this for the money."
First New Board Member
Sue served as a Board Member for only a few of the early years, and was replaced by Tyler S. Ramey. Tyler is a man with a unique ability to communicate in the written medium. I have submitted for his review many of my articles, book manuscripts, and even my doctoral dissertations. He was faithful to CES for many years and had given 100's of hours to various tasks that have helped CES as an institution. Tyler resigned in 2003 and is pursuing further education.
The Task At Hand
Having worked in an accredited school as the assistant to the registrar, and having served as an educational investigator/consultant, I knew that starting such a ministry would be no easy task.
Mike Buchanan, Rev. Gary Holde, and my wife all agreed to be the founding board trustees. Together we prayed, brain-stormed, discussed, debated, prayed some more, laughed, and cried over the founding of this ministry in its early years.
Early on, I contacted the city and state licensing departments, the post-secondary educational division of Washington state, and the IRS. Wanting to have everything conforming to all laws, we submitted our preliminary catalog to the post-secondary educational division of Washington state. For the next two years, we submitted and resubmitted draft-catalogs to them for their reviews, and finally, after working closely with them, they officially granted us the legal right to operate as a Christian seminary.
The First Name: Faraston Theological Seminary (FTS)
How to pronounce Far-as-ton: The Far is pronounced as fair (or fare); the "a" is pronounced as the "a" in the word about; and the "ston" is pronounced stun as in stunning: fair - a - stun. Why the name "Faraston"? The name Faraston has no dictionary definition.
Psalm 89:lb says "With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations" (NKJV). In the late '70s God planted a seed in my heart to establish a school that would effectively train people for various aspects of ministry. In the late '80s, after years of God's faithful watering and cultivating the seed and preparing me, He sent someone to encourage me to take the necessary legal steps to begin the school. The name Faraston is a combination of the name of that individual and my name. Thus, the name Faraston does not glorify any man, but it is a hybrid which is a memorial to God's continued faithfulness. Therefore, "With the name Faraston, we make known God's faithfulness." Faraston = God's Faithfulness.
The Second Name: Columbia Evangelical Seminary (CES)
But, due to so many questions about the name, constant mispronunciations (even by some of the FTS students and faculty!) and a daily repetition of the origin of the name to interested parties, the name became a burden of constant explanation. So, in January 1998, the Board agreed to a new name: Columbia Evangelical Seminary.
Rationale For The Name Columbia Evangelical Seminary
Where we are: Columbia identifies us geographically. Longview is on the mighty Columbia River; it separates Longview, WA., from the state of Oregon. (And, though I personally live in Buckley, WA. as of late 2000 the school is still a Longview non-profit corporation).
Who we are: Evangelical theology "affirms the traditional doctrines of orthodox Christianity, with an emphasis upon the need for individual personal regeneration" (Millard J. Erickson, Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology, published by Baker Book House, 1986, p. 52.).
What we are: Seminary is a theological school for the training of ministers.
It would take too much space to list all of our faculty over the years and all of their achievements. Suffice it to say that over the years, we have had more than 100 people serve as faculty members for this seminary at one time or another. Some of these scholars are employed full-time at other seminaries and universities, some have published books, some have been on radio and television, some have traveled the globe in missions and evangelism, some have debated in public forums at major universities, but all of them have, by-and-large, promoted the cause of Christ around the world. And, of course, they have trained CES students to be better ministers of the Gospel of Christ. For a current listing of CES faculty, visit the faculty page.
In 1998, one man donated the necessary materials for and came to the CES office in Longview and set up the seminary's website. That person was Dr. Richard Boyd. Dr. Boyd has a Ph.D. in Geophysical Engineering from the University of Arizona, as well as a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. We thank him for his gift of service to this school.
Jason Vest worked with Dr. Boyd in the development of our web site. While Dr. Boyd set things up, Jason was the man to whom we turned many times for continued web-site support and updates. Jason has done his continued web-support for pizza dinners. We thank him for his continued help and for "charging" us such minimal fees.
In 2003 Cale Burr redesigned the CES Web Site. Cale is an exceptional artist who has helped us with our school logo and other artwork over the years, both for the web site and our printed literature. Cale is a long-time personal friend who has also done my various book-cover artwork.
Over the years, we have had relatively few students enroll into our programs of study. Some nontraditional schools claim thousands of students whereas CES claims only hundreds. However, when you consider that CES has always demanded top-quality academic work from its students, it begins to make sense.
We have had hundreds of applications, but comparatively few actual enrollments. I remember one month in 1999, we had 33 applications in that month alone. However, and this is no secret, many people go through the application process only to "discover" that CES demands serious academic study and work, and more often than not, they opt to go elsewhere. Since this is a letter about CES, and not about other schools, I will refrain from detailing the easy-degreeism of many other schools. Suffice it to say that while these other schools are easier, their degrees are less valuable as well.
One of our graduates, Rob Myers, enrolled with three years of transfer credit from traditional schools. He had only his last year remaining to earn his Bachelor's degree with us. When he completed that final year, he told me that he had learned more in his one year with CES than he had in all of the previous three years combined.
Th.D. graduate Nils Nilsson shared with me that he had never before seen such academic precision required in doctoral work, and he had earned two doctoral degrees elsewhere before enrolling into our Doctor of Theology program.
These two testimonies have been repeated numerous times by CES grads and students.
April 1, 1991
On April 1, 1991, CES officially "opened" its distance-learning doors. There have been more than a few jokes about the day on which we began. April Fool's day would not have been my first choice. But, over the years we have been one of the answers to the fools who have said in their hearts, "There is no God" Psalm 14:1. The mere fact of the existence of CES is an indication of God's existence. Believe me, this is no man's work. God's divine guidance has been in this ministry from the beginning.
I wish to thank in general ways listing everyone would take far too much space all who have dedicated their time and expertise to CES in helping found, secure, and operate it for all these years. I thank all of you who have ever given an offering of finances to this educational ministry. And, I know that many people have prayed for the school and for its leadership. Thank you.
Please continue to pray with us for the continued success of CES, and for the positive welfare of all who are a part of this wonderful, God-ordained ministry.
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