In August of last year, my wife and I drove our eldest child to Due West for her first year of college. It is always hard on parents leaving their first child at college. We had fears unique to the situation at Erskine. Would my daughter have the same experience that my wife and I had in the 1990s? Would she make life long friends and receive a quality education as we had done in our time in Due West? Should she have gone to the University of South Carolina like we thought she would a year before?
The first thing that gave us reassurance is that Erskine feels like home. We were greeted by Mrs. Kuykendall and a delegation from the Due West ARP Church. As we were moving her into Carnegie Dormitory, I saw Lee Atkinson from the Class of ’90. His daughter Delaney was in the room beside my daughter. At the meeting of freshman parents, there were many of our classmates bringing their children to Erskine.
There have been a few times over the last years that I have questioned my choice of a college. However, Erskine has had a profound influence on my life. It is where I found my wife, my friends, my church, and in a real sense my God. It was at Erskine College that I was exposed to the writings of Calvin and Luther. It was at Erskine that I was challenged to think by professors like Drs. Grier, Tooley, and Freeze.
I was asked recently if I thought Erskine had served its purpose and needed to be put down graciously. My answer was, “No!” Erskine comes to us as our birthright; a blessing and a responsibility. We need Erskine now more than ever in today’s changing world. Erskine needs to be here to help teach Christian young people how to think and apply the Biblical truths to a post-modern world. We need Erskine to be a place where the unchurched and non-Christians come for a quality education and exposure to Christian truth and Christian love. We need one Erskine College and Seminary going forward together hand in hand to accomplish our mission in higher education. We need Erskine to be in one way what it has always been, and in another way something better than it has ever been.
The freshman year Erskine experience for my daughter could not have been better. It was on point with all that it offered and delivered on what it promised. The future of Erskine must be built on the traditional love and relationships that have been so strong through the years among students, professors, and administration. The future of Erskine must also be built on the historic mission to honor Christ in Higher Education. This was what I experienced in my day and what my daughter is experiencing now.
In my opinion, Erskine is an untapped resource for the church. It should be Erskine alums who fill our pews, help plant our churches, and become our missionaries and our pastors. There is a bright future for how God can use Erskine College. However, this does not mean that the way forward will be easy. This is a time when Erskine College needs its Alumni and its Denomination to step up and support it in its time of need. It needs you, its church!
What can you do?
- Pray for Erskine College. Erskine needs your prayers. Does your church regularly pray for Erskine? Pray for the people and needs that it takes to run a small college in today’s world.
- Send your Students. Erskine needs good students to accomplish its mission. Encourage the young people you know to consider Erskine.
- Send Money. This is always a need at a place like Erskine. Small Liberal Arts colleges are struggling. There is a real need now. I challenge every congregation to make a five year commitment in their budget to Erskine College and Seminary. Any amount that a congregation could give would be helpful in moving Erskine forward into its new era of usefulness to the church and world. Will you get your church to give? Will you personally give?
I challenge all ARPs to support your college and seminary. Erskine has been and will be a blessing to the ARPC! This is your birthright and it needs your support now!
It is my hope that in a few more decades my daughter will drop off her child at the steps of Carnegie or Grier, and that child will have the same great experience that we had and that my daughter is having now. In order for that to happen, we need to act now and support our denominational school so that it can be a blessing for decades to come.
Dr. Kyle Sims is the pastor of First ARP Church in Lancaster, SC.