Two photos of Dr. Gordon Anderson, one early-career, one at retirement

Faithfully Forward: Reflections from Dr. Anderson

In this continuation of our Faithfully Forward series looking back on NCU’s history, we feature a beautiful letter written by former North Central President Gordon Anderson, Ph.D. Dr. Anderson penned this letter to commemorate North Central’s 90th anniversary in 2020. COVID-19 changed our plans for celebrating that anniversary last year, but we felt it appropriate to share Dr. Anderson’s message, even though NCU is now 91 years old.

A message from Dr. Gordon Anderson

In the fall of 1930, 13 students gathered in the basement of the Minneapolis Gospel Tabernacle to study together under the leadership of Reverend Frank Lindquist, church pastor, district leader, and founder of the new bible school. Since then, tens of thousands of students over the years have studied in buildings that cover nearly ten acres of property in downtown Minneapolis, along with online and other creative ways of delivering education to a new generation of students. Much has changed over those 90 years, but the core values upon which the new school was built endure today.

What are they?

Perhaps one word sums up the guiding principle of NCU and is the key to the school’s success in maintaining its mission through 90 years of constant change and constant challenges to the founding principles upon which the school stands.
The one word? “All.” Joel 2.28 says that God would pour out His Spirit on ALL flesh. On the day of Pentecost, ALL were filled with the Spirit and began to speak in tongues. This one little word sums up the essence of New Testament doctrine and Pentecostal theology. How is this important for NCU?

When Pastor Lindquist started the school, he declared that the school was designed to meet the educational and spiritual goals of ALL students, both those who felt a specific call to full-time ministry and those who wanted to study the Bible to enhance their spiritual walk and effectiveness. Through its 90 years, NCU has maintained this commitment and has succeeded in offering a number of different majors, all guided by the Pentecostal principle that all God’s people are filled with the Spirit, and all have certain unique spiritual gifts regardless of their course of study or career. The result is that thousands of students have left NCU to serve God and be used of the Spirit around the world, some as pastors and missionaries, some as bi-vocational church planters, and some as specially gifted members of the body of Christ.

This is, of course, good theology, but how do you embed this theology into the curriculum and practices of an educational institution, especially with the many different demands placed on the school by governing agencies, accreditation associations, and a multitude of various constituents? How? By a dogged determination that the most important values of the school’s founding would not be lost over the many years of its operation.

Unchanging principles

For example, President Don Argue made a key decision during his tenure that all the faculty would sit on the platform of the chapel during the daily chapel services. The import of this decision might not be seen immediately, but upon reflection, it is one of the keys to maintaining the mission of the school. It was not just the pastoral faculty, or those teaching bible and theology, but ALL the faculty. Missionaries, Greek scholars, school teachers, and psychology professionals gathered to present to the students the genius of Pentecost, that ALL God’s people are Spirit-filled members of the Body of Christ. In time changes were made, the faculty was no longer seated on the platform, but the principle did not change.

During my years as president of the school, I made an ardent effort to maintain this foundational commitment. I’m sure the students who attended during those years would remember me preaching in chapel that everyone in the building was an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, or deacon, and that God has a special anointing for each, regardless of the chosen major, or intended future. The Friday noontime hour of prayer and fasting was for ALL, students with various majors, faculty with different academic specialties, and administrators alike. One of my fondest memories is seeing a pastoral student praying with an English professor, hands being laid on by a veteran missionary and a business administrator. ALL!!

Vision for the future

Current president, Dr. Scott Hagan, is a personal friend, but more importantly, he is a colleague of Pastor Frank Lindquist, though they never met. President Hagan has been selected to lead a wonderful school that has an excellent record of academic and spiritual success. President Hagan is doing an outstanding job of forging new ways of conducting Pentecostal education, true to the past, with a great vision for the future.

I may not be around for the centennial celebration of NCU, and those who organize the event may not need another letter from me, but if they do, they can reprint this one. It’s everything important that I can think of to say at the time of the celebration of the history of a great school, and I don’t think that is going to change.

It’s a great day! Ninety years of educational and spiritual success is certainly something to be celebrated. Thank God for NCU, its mission, its message, its leaders and students, and its impact on the world.

 

Dr. Anderson signed his letter “A former steward of NCU.” We are grateful for his perspective and remain grateful for his years of service to North Central.

 

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