To Dream Again

Evangel – Fall 2015


To Dream Again

The movie “Inception” (2010) imagined the possibility of a dream happening within a dream. For those who love time-bending science fiction, this movie was two hours and three minutes of nerd heaven. Yet the notion of a dream within a dream is an interesting way to talk about the the dream that was and is Alberta Bible College.

Some eighty-four years ago there was a dream of a Bible college for the training of preachers, teachers, leaders, and church planters (though we did not call them that then) in the expanding frontier of Western Canada. Working closely with the elders of the Church of Christ in Lethbridge, Charles Henry Phillips (1886–1959) led the charge in making this dream a reality.

Even though only seven students enrolled, classes still began in 1932 in the unfinished basement of the Lethbridge church building. (Unfinished? Now there another word that describes our dream). Over the years ABC has experienced seasons of prosperity and persevered through seasons of deprivation, but the constant has been that the dream remained alive—and still is. (See “Anecdote from the Archive” for excerpts from C. H. Phillips.)
ABC founding members

The dream of ABC however was not imagined and then realized in isolation. Phillips and all the early pioneers of the college had already caught another dream. Historically we speak of that dream as the Restoration Movement, a quest to rediscover the Bible as central to the church’s life. This movement was led by notable ministers, such as Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone, and Walter Scott; in Canada, leaders such as Joseph Ash, James Black, and David Oliphant sought to make the dream a reality.

The daring dream of this movement was anchored in two deeply held convictions. The first was that careful attention to Scripture should guide the faith and practice of the church. Therefore the study of the Bible is a central practice to us. The second was that by being simply Christian, we could participate in God’s mission of reconciling all things to himself (2 Cor 5:19; Eph 2:16; Col 1:20; et al.). For this reason we continue to work for the unity of all believers.

No surprise then that these values remain part of ABC’s story. We seek to prepare our students to be effective servants and witnesses for Christ. To that end, we teach our students how to read the Bible carefully. Regarding unity, our students come both from churches of the Restoration Movement and from churches sympathetic to being simply Christian. These deep values offer compelling motivation for the work of ABC both in Canada and beyond to continue on.

So there you have it. Alberta Bible College is a dream within a dream. In this edition of the Evangel, we invite you to dream again about how God is now calling us to serve him in our day and time. We are thankful for those who dared to dream.

Stan is the current president of ABC, and has recently joined us with his wife, Pat Helton. They have one daughter Rachel, who is married. She and her husband just finished a short-term mission trip to Zambia. Rachel is completing her Masters in Theology through Abilene Christian University. Stan has earned degrees from Oklahoma Christian University (BA), Abilene Christian University (MS, MDiv, DMin), and the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (ThM, PhD). He has served in a variety of ministry settings including New Orleans and Chicago; he taught for six years at Western Christian College in Regina, Saskatchewan where he also served as Dean. Pat is a teacher whose specialty is Adapted Physical Education. She has served people with special needs most of her career, most recently among the urban poor of New Orleans. Stan and Pat are excited to have returned to Canada and seeing what God will do with them next in this mission.