Dr. Rick Walston first conceived of CES in the late 80s while spending time in Moss Beach, CA. He spent the next two years working the development and design of the school, and he sought the wisdom of others whom he respected, including, but not limited to, Dr. John Bear, Mike Buchanan, Rev. Gary Holde, Dr. Dick Craghead, and his wife, Sue.
Early on, Dr. Walston 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, he submitted the preliminary catalog to the post-secondary educational division of Washington state. For the next two years, he submitted and resubmitted draft-catalogs to them for their various reviews, and finally, after working closely with them, they officially granted the school the legal right to operate as a Christian seminary.
The school first opened on April 1, 1991 as Faraston Theological Seminary. Dr Walston continued to serve as President until September 2015 when he retired from administration in order to increase the time he could spend working directly with his students at the school. Apart from his role as a faculty mentor, he continues to advise CES as President Emeritus.


The goal of CES is to provide high-quality Christian education for those who require a viable, credible alternative to the high costs, restrictive schedules, and residency requirements found at most traditional seminaries. Traditional seminaries can be (and often are) excellent, but many ministers, full-time workers, or people living in smaller or more remote communities cannot attend a traditional seminary due to location, schedule, or cost. Unfortunately, many non-traditional, alternative schools that meet the flexibility needs of prospective students may not offer the academic quality, high standards, or credibility desired from a seminary education. CES seeks to minister in this gap.

Name Change: Faraston Theological Seminary to Columbia Evangelical Seminary

The first name of the school was Faraston Theological Seminary, which held deep personal meaning for Dr. Walston. However, the unique name often required significant explanation, suffered from continual mispronounciation, and created constant distraction, and so in the late 90s, the board voted to change the name to Columbia Evangelical Seminary. The rationale for the new name is as follows:

Where the school originated: Columbia is a geographic identifier. The school originated in Longview, WA, which sits alongside the mighty Columbia River.

Who the school ministers to: 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 type of school: Seminary is a theological school for the training of ministers.


Over the years, CES has enrolled relatively few students into its programs of study. Some non-traditional 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. 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. Suffice it to say that while these other schools are easier, their degrees are less valuable as well. For example, one CES graduate, 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 informed Dr. Walston 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 that he had never before seen such academic precision required in doctoral work, and he had earned two doctoral degrees elsewhere before enrolling into the Doctor of Theology program at CES. Similar testimonies have been repeated numerous times by CES grads and students.

World-wide Impact

CES students and faculty represent hundreds of locations around the United States, Canada, and the rest of the world. Their subsequent ministries and journeys continue a ripple effect with ever-increasing numbers of people and regions impacted for the Kingdom.
  • 49 U.S. states or provinces
  • 8 Canadian provinces or territories
  • 22 countries
  • 5 continents
  • First enrollment: April 1, 1991 (in-state)
  • First out-of-state enrollment: August 29, 1991 (from Hawaii)
  • First non-US enrollment: January 14, 1992 (from Canada)


CES exists by the grace of God to further advance the Kingdom. Many people have made significant sacrifices over the years in order to enable this ministry to be effective. If you are a current or former student or faculty member, or even if you are simply an interested party, CES asks for your prayers on our behalf that we may continue to serve the Kingdom with efficiency, excellence, and integrity.