History is the story of ideas. Just as democracy developed from the ancient Greeks to its present incarnation in America, so ideas are refined and grow with the passage of time. But history is more than the story of ideas; it is a portrait of the people who made it, stories of individuals who crossed the landscape of time leaving indelible impressions on the canvas of life.
Many church historians now reflecting on the twentieth century are calling it the century of Pentecostalism. From its humble beginnings in Topeka, Kansas, and Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California, the Pentecostal movement has grown to hundreds of millions of adherents. This century brought revival and a restoration of the apostolic roots of the church. Oneness Pentecostalism is the result of this hunger for apostolic Christianity. Though many life stories could be told of the individuals who embody this restoration, Urshan Graduate School of Theology is named to capture the development of Oneness Pentecostalism through the twentieth century by following the footsteps of Andrew D. Urshan and his son Nathaniel A. Urshan.
The Urshan Legacy
A. D. Urshan was the prototypical Oneness pioneer. His hunger for more of God led him from mainstream Christianity through the Holiness Movement, on to Pentecostalism and finally to his home in Oneness Pentecostalism. A. D. Urshan was not content to experience the blessings of God just for himself. He carried the message of Bible salvation across North America and around the world. His missionary zeal reflected the passionate concern for early Pentecostals to carry the whole gospel to the whole world.
N. A. Urshan took the legacy of his father, A. D. Urshan, and built upon it. In the middle part of this century he crisscrossed America preaching in camp meetings that were critical in the expansion of Oneness Pentecostalism. In addition to pastoring one of the most influential churches in the movement, Nathaniel Urshan was the pioneer speaker for Harvestime, the radio voice of the largest Oneness organization, the United Pentecostal Church International. N. A. Urshan was the general superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church International for more than two decades.
Graduate School Development
As with any significant endeavor, men and women of vision are required to bring ideas to fruitful conclusion. The story of the Urshan Graduate School of Theology includes the leadership of Timothy Dugas, pastor of The Sanctuary in Missouri, Arless Glass, superintendent of the UPCI Division of Education, and Jesse Williams, former UPCI assistant general superintendent. These men played significant roles as the graduate school moved towards becoming a reality. Timothy Dugas formed an ad hoc committee to study the feasibility of the graduate school.
Following this study, the General Board augmented with additional personnel, creating a steering committee under the auspices of Arless Glass. A second proposal was made to the General Board to determine if the project should go forward. The steering committee chose its chairperson to be Jesse Williams, who has served as chairperson from that time to the present. Under Jesse Williams's direction a resolution was made to the United Pentecostal Church General Conference. After relevant debate the gathered ministers of the United Pentecostal Church voted to found the Urshan Graduate School of Theology.
At a subsequent meeting in St. Louis, Chairperson Williams continued to lead the Board of Trustees, which was formed at that time. The board selected David Bernard as its first president and Nathaniel Urshan as the chancellor of what would be called the Urshan Graduate School of Theology. These officers were installed at the October conference. The board hired James Littles, Jr. as vice president; he did considerable organizational work to ready the graduate school to open its doors. The board of trustees and the president officially installed the founding faculty at the first convocation service. Full-time faculty installed were James A. Littles, Jr., David S. Norris, Raymond Crownover, and Gerald L. Truman. Additional adjunct faculty will contribute to the success of the institution.
Urshan Graduate School of Theology is accredited. Furthermore, UGST is eligible by INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services) to offer student visas to students from foreign countries as well as provide Federal loans and financial aid to qualified students from North America.