President’s Perspective: S.C. Baptists and the Soul of Christian Education

Southern Baptist higher education is rooted in South Carolina. It found its soul here as well. It began deep in the 18th century — in 1755, when Oliver Hart led the Charleston Baptist Association to take up a collection of 155 pounds, in order to “defray the cost of expenses of needy young men while they studied under the direction of some older and more cultured ministers.” Hart’s Religious Education Fund led to greater endeavors.

The desire for Christian education led South Carolina Baptists to establish the Furman Academy and Theological Institution in 1826. The work of establishing a school for theological training was difficult — the school changed locations four times, until it finally settled in Greenville in 1851 and secured a charter from the state legislature. The roots were strong, and the establishment of the institution grew secure, but soon a battle for the soul of the school would take place.

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