By Donald P. Ames
In the fall of 1956, York College (York, Nebr.) opened its doors to the public as a junior college. I had a part in working on the campus to prepare the school, and attended my first two years of college there. Already there was much discussion as to whether York College was a “church school” and whether or not churches would be allowed to contribute to it. I remember the strong (but compromising) stand the school took against church support, declaring the need to make the public understand that the church and school were two entirely separate organizations (and even how upset some of the school officials got when some of the early mail arrived addressed to York Christian College). Yet, because some on the board favored church support and they did not want to turn them against the school, it was written into the By-laws that the school would not accept church contributions (the By-laws can be changed – the charter could not).
During my two years at York College, I had quite a few discussions on what was the work of the church, as I studied my way out of liberalism (not knowing there were others of similar conviction at that time). I also participated in a debate among “preacher students” on whether or not York College was a “church school.” I remember it well, because Roy Lanier was head of the Bible Department and the two of us studied many topics together. He had loaned us his workbook (published by the Gospel Advocate) on the church to help in our opposition to the “church school” concept. We (David Gulley, Ron Anderson and myself) opposed not only church contributions to private colleges, but also rebutted his position on the sponsoring church as well. The discussion did not go very well for those in opposition, and at the end of the discussion they felt called upon to ask brother Lanier for some assistance. He had to back us up – after what we had done to his sponsoring church concept in the discussion. I felt then though that trouble lay ahead for the school on that subject in the future.
Over the years that followed, rumors erupted on several occasions of churches sending funds to the school – some pretty pointed. Dale Larson (then president) replied to such in a letter, flatly denying that the school was accepting church contributions. Finally one day while in Nebraska (having left there after my sophomore year), I got a chance to visit the school and asked brother Larson face-to-face about the obviously contradictory facts. It was then admitted that while the college was not accepting church contributions (“and have even sent some checks back because they were made out to the college”), they were accepting church contributions to the Bible department (that is about parallel to ear-marking a check to the United Fund for the Red Cross and trying to convince yourself you had not sent a contribution to the United Fund. All that does is free up money committed to that department, and hence more is available to the college. The end result is the very same, and you’re only kidding yourself.)
But hard times have hit York College in the last couple of years – financially and otherwise. Many of the teachers were laid off, law-suits were threatened, board members replaced, and other internal struggles contributed to a real crisis. A new board was selected and goals were set to “restore” the college to good standing. In the Christian Chronicle (July 1988) progress is reported as the school sought to put its troubles behind it. “More than $360,000 was raised in a June collection by more than 460 congregations in 36 states,” the article said (emphasis mine – DPA). “Gardner (the new president – DPA) expects proceeds to climb to about $400,000,” it went on to state.
Thus York College apparently has come full cycle and joined the other schools run by the liberals that openly are after church contributions to finance schools. Some people are apparently guided more by “situation ethics” than convictions, and the drift of the school into full liberalism is now well documented. How churches can justify supporting colleges and orphanages under boards separate and apart from the church and still object to contributing to a missionary society organized exactly the same way is beyond me. But, given a little more time and maybe they will be ready to swallow that as well. After all, look at what happened to York College! Brethren, you have drifted!
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 18, p. 567
September 15, 1988