The Moody Bible Institute Spokane campus may be closing, but former faculty and local Christian leaders are not discouraged.
“God is not done with higher biblical education in Spokane,” said Wendy Liddell, Moody’s former Associate Dean of Academics.
Liddell has been elected president of a new university, which has yet to be named. Plans call for the school to be a private, nonprofit Christian university with a biblically based curriculum.
“We will have the heart of a Bible college, but going with a Christian university gives us more flexibility,” Liddell said. “We are giving students’ faith a foundation.”
In November, Moody announced it would be closing its Spokane campus by the end of the school year, citing financial reasons. Students were notified at the time that they would be able to continue their education online, or through the Christian evangelical school’s main campus in Chicago.
Liddell is hoping the new school will receive formal accreditation by February and be able to accept students by June of this year. The majority of Moody’s faculty will teach for the new university, even if that means a cut in pay.
Liddell said the university will be founded on three core values – wisdom, scholarship and community. Their broad doctrinal statement will include historical, orthodox Christianity as a final rule for practice.
“We want to form students of Christ to transform the world,” Liddell said. “These students will be involved in chapel and community service, sending out strong Christian leaders into the region.”
The new university has already elected a board of trustees and has been incorporated into Washington state as a nonprofit university.
The new school will still be located in Fourth Memorial Church. The space can hold approximately 750 students, but Liddell said she’ll be pleased if 100 students enroll for the 2018-19 school year.
“The application process will reflect our heart,” Liddell said. “We will decide based on a passionate in-person or phone interview.”
The undergraduate programs offered will include communications, biblical studies, leadership studies, intercultural studies, linguistics, family ministries and more. The school will be similar to Moody in that it will create biblically minded students, but the credit load will be smaller and will require students to work more closely with local churches.
The tuition will be $25,000 a year. Liddell said former Moody students should not worry about finances, as they will match whatever tuition rate they were paying before the school change.
The biggest obstacle to the university’s formation so far is funding. Washington state requires that a new school have one year’s worth of operation expenses. For the new university, Liddell said that total comes to $1 million.
Besides prayer, Liddell is asking for major gifts, loans and private investors to lease houses to students.
“This is the Lord’s project,” Liddell said. “All of the money donated is his money.”
Although $1 million might sound unattainable, Nathanael Schey, Moody’s former operations manager who now has a similar position at the new school, is not worried.
“Because we have done this before, we have an advantage of understanding what the university needs,” Schey said. “We are excited to see what God will do next. God’s plans don’t stop because his children have to live in the reality of a difficult world.”
He said his confidence comes from faculty’s passion to recruit students and the new school’s reasonable tuition rates.
“As tuition skyrockets, sometimes it’s not a wise or viable option for today’s students to seek higher education,” Schey said. “For that reason, we have developed programs that are highly marketable and actually lead students to the type of work they want to do.”
Schey said the programs will prepare students to be working Christians in the real world.
“This is the Lord’s work, this isn’t our work, even though we’ve put in so many hours,” Schey said. “We need prayers for sustainability as the project is hard on our families. We need prayers for God’s favorability to stop attacks of the devil, stalling our project.”
The founding members of the new school will host informational meetings throughout the month of February. Questions should be sent to email@example.com, and donations can be made at www.strategiclanguages.org.