Eston College has played an important part in the spiritual formation of my family for 3 generations. My parents attended the Full Gospel Bible Institute in the 1950s, my wife and I attended in the 1970s, and both of our sons and their wives attended Eston College in the 2000s. The Mills family has been impacted by Eston College!
Having said that, I want you to know that I am a strong supporter of the relocation of Eston College to Regina for the following reasons:
The trend for student enrollment at Eston College has been on the decline for the past 45 years.
The largest enrollment in Eston College history was 183 students in 1976. While there have been ups and downs in enrollment, the overall trend has been downward.
This trend is no longer sustainable; the college either needed to close its doors or relocate to a more suitable location.
2. Location, Location, Location
The question has been asked—“If you were beginning a college today would you locate it in Eston Saskatchewan?” If the answer is no, then the follow-up questions are: “Where should it be?” and “What are you doing to relocate to a more favorable context?”
The board of Eston College prayerfully considered these questions for nearly a year and discerned that it “seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit” to relocate the College to Regina, where we believe the College will have an opportunity to thrive. Regina is the only major city in western Canada that does not have a bible college. This move provides an opportunity for bible training in the city. This will also benefit other churches and denominations.
Eston College exists because of an act of the Saskatchewan legislature; moving the College out of the province requires a significant legislative process in another jurisdiction. In the post-Christian context, this may be no small task.
I am delighted that the Regina Apostolic Church has opened its doors to welcome Eston College, offering the use of its facilities. When kingdom minded ministries partner together there is a spiritual synergy that strengthens both ministries!
The Regina Apostolic Church has the capacity and the strength to provide an excellent home for the College, and the College will strengthen the ministry of the Church.
4. Practical Ministry Opportunity
The leadership of Eston College has strived to create practical ministry opportunities for students, However, most of these ministry opportunities require travel outside of the community of Eston. In an urban context like Regina, there is a broad range and numerous ministry opportunities within the city.
5. Broader Access to Bible Education
Relocation to Regina provides an opportunity for students to secure part-time employment while they pursue their biblical studies. This is not an option that is available to most students in Eston.
The College will be able to offer classes in the evenings. Allowing mature students, who are in the workforce, gain bible and ministry training on a part-time basis. This option would be of particular interest to those considering a ministry role as a second career.
6. Developing Ministers and Ministry Leaders
With the baby boom generation moving toward retirement age, our Fellowship like all other evangelical denominations in Canada are desperately in need of pastors and ministry leaders. The opportunity to train and develop ministry leaders in an urban context is far greater than in a rural context.
7. Global Urbanization
When Eston College was founded in 1944, most Canadians lived in rural areas or small towns. Around the globe most people live in cities, in Canada, 82% of Canadians now live in urban areas. This means that most of the students coming to Eston College will come from cities, and most students leaving Eston College will minister in urban contexts.
8. Isolation is not working for us
In the past, it was presumed that isolation was a positive thing for a bible college. However, most people only come to that conclusion after spending time there.
Many young adults decide Eston College is not for them simply because of its isolated location. The diminishing enrollment trends support this conclusion.
9. Opportunity to Engage World Class Pentecostal Teaching Faculty
The College’s shift to a modular teaching calendar means that there are opportunities to engage world-class Pentecostal teachers for each modular class. Having the College located where there is an international airport and hotels to house visiting faculty, this is much more feasible in Regina.
I am confident that President Sean Stevenson-Douglas has the leadership skills the anointing and the energy to lead the College through this significant transition. Please pray for Sean and his team and consider becoming a generous financial supporter of the College.
I realize that this will be a difficult change for the town of Eston and the Eston Full Gospel Church. My son and his family are part of the Church community, and I realize that this will have a significant impact.
I would invite you to pray with and for the Eston Church, Pastors Greg & Kim Cooper, and their community as they lead the church during this season of transition.