Messiah College (Grantham, Pennsylvania, USA)

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Messiah College, located at Grantham, Pennsylvania, was founded in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, by the Brethren in Christ Church in 1909, primarily in response to a need for trained workers in foreign mission work. This foreign mission program, which had been started on a small scale in the 19th century, had grown to such an extent that the need for missionaries with a broad educational foundation was apparent. The church responded to this need by launching the institution under the name Messiah Bible School and Missionary Training Home. In 1911 the school was moved from Harrisburg to Grantham, eleven miles (18 km) south, with a more suitable environment and a less limited site. At the time, in addition to religious and Christian service education, it provided courses in secular fields including education for public school teachers. In 1920 junior college courses were added, and in 1921 the first class to complete a junior college program of study in the state of Pennsylvania was graduated from Messiah Bible School.

The growth of the institution and the expansion of the program made desirable a change in name. Consequently on 12 May 1924 the school was re-chartered as Messiah Bible College. Pennsylvania State University accredited the junior college division in 1928. On 6 May 1946 the Pennsylvania State Council of Education officially approved the institution as a junior college.

The growth of the College was steady and continuous. Upon recommendation of a study committee surveying higher educational needs in the Brethren in Christ Church, the general conference of 1948 requested the college to provide more adequately for the education of ministers, missionaries, and Christian workers by providing a five-year theological course on the collegiate level leading to the Th.B. degree. To meet this demand the educational program was expanded and the financial standing of the institution strengthened. The court approved amendments to the charter on 15 January 1951, changing the name to Messiah College and granting legal authority to confer degrees. The Pennsylvania State Council of Education approved Messiah College as a degree-granting institution on 12 February 1951.

The College was governed in 1957 by a board of fourteen trustees appointed by and subject to the General Conference of the Brethren in Christ Church.

The Messiah College campus consists of 72 acres located on the eastern edge of the town of Grantham. Its educational plant in 1957 consisted of five buildings as follows: the administration building, a large four-story brick structure erected in 1911, containing offices, classrooms, chapel, library, and rooms for seventy men students; Hill View, remodeled in 1946 from a private residence, housing the music department; Science Hall, a two-story building erected in 1914; the auditorium-gymnasium, with an auditorium seating 1,000, erected in 1935; and Musser Industrial Arts Building, a two-story building erected in 1940. Four additional buildings are used for housing: the women's dormitory, a four-story building with rooms for eighty women students, erected in 1948; the apartment hall, providing six family-unit apartments, erected in 1952; the president's home; and Lawn Annex, a combined apartment and dormitory building. A new library is in process of construction. When it is finished, Messiah College's investment in buildings, grounds, and equipment would exceed $700,000.

In 1956-57 Messiah College had a teaching faculty of 23 and a full-time enrollment of 111. Seventy per cent of the enrollment was from Pennsylvania, but twelve states and several foreign countries contributed students. Three fourths of the students were members of the Brethren in Christ Church, as were four fifths of the faculty. The school published the bi-monthly Messiah College Bulletin and a student annual called The Clarion.

Presidents of the school from the beginning to 1957 included S. R. Smith, 1910-1916; C. N. Hostetter, Sr., 1917-1922; Enos H. Hess, 1922-1934; C. N. Hostetter, Jr., 1934-1960.


Sider, E. Morris. Messiah College: a history. Nappanee, IN: Evangel Press, 1984.

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1957

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MLA style

Bender, Harold S. "Messiah College (Grantham, Pennsylvania, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 16 Jun 2021.,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=115909.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. (1957). Messiah College (Grantham, Pennsylvania, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 16 June 2021, from,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=115909.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 658. All rights reserved.

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