Pacific Bible Seminary

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Digital Archives ~ Hope International University

A Short History

Pacific Bible Seminary was formed in 1928 at a time when the Restoration Movement was in the midst of controversy over liberalism. PBS was to serve as a more conservative alternative for training church leaders.

A Shakey Start

Top priorities were property and the election of dedicated officers. In June 1928, the College Committee unanimously voted to extend a call to Dr. George P. Rutledge to lead the college as its president and R. E. Elmore became the first Dean.

However, the day before classes began in January, 1929, Dr. Rutledge resigned. Nevertheless, classes did begin in the basement of the Alvarado Church of Christ in Los Angeles. In mid-1929 Dr. Mckenzie Meldrum was called to what turned out to be another short-lived presidency. To add to the administrative instability of the early months, Dean Elmore was forced to resign due to health problems in December 1929.

1930 proved to be a turning point for the Seminary. Dr. James G. Hurst became the Vice President in January and upon Dr. Meldrum's resignation, became the President Pro Tem until his official election to the Presidency the next year. Dr. Hurst served as President of PBS for twenty-two years until his death while continuing his ministry at the Huntington Beach Church of Christ. Mrs. Martha Hurst served as the school's first librarian.

Also in 1930, classes moved to the Long Beach First Christian Church where Dr. George P. Taubman served as minister. Taubman was listed as a professor of Practical Ministries and took on the title of Dean following Dr. Elmore. Classes continued to meet at the Long Beach church until the Long Beach earthquake forced the Seminary to relocate to a small house in 1933. Four years later the first owned property was purchased for a new campus on Anaheim Street in Long Beach.

Establishing Stability

In the 1940s, the student body began showing its strength. The Gospel Crusaders was formed and the Torch (school newspaper) as well as the Lampas (yearbook) began publication. The 1940s produced 47 graduates.

After the devastating death of President Hurst on Christmas Eve in 1953, Dr. Kenneth Stewart was called to the presidency. In 1962, the name was changed to Pacific Christian College to more accurately reflect the breadth of educational offerings. The next year, the school gained accreditation from the American Association of Bible Colleges.

Major Changes

Dr. Stewart had served as president for fifteen years when Dr. Medford Jones assumed the leadership role in 1969. That same year, Pacific Christian College gained regional accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Under President Jones' leadership, the school out-grew the capacity of the Long Beach campus and in 1973 a new 14 1/2 acre campus was purchased at it's current location in Fullerton, California. A unique cooperative arrangement with California State University, Fullerton (across the street) allowed for students to choose "contract" majors in areas of study beyond what PCC could offer on its own.

Growth and Maturity

When, in 1981, Dr. Knofel Staton became president of Pacific Christian College, Dr. Jones returned to the classroom at the graduate level until his death in August 2004. During the 1980s, the student body grew to over 600 undergraduates and graduates. Due to heart problems, Dr. Staton was prompted to resign the post of President in early 1990. When Dr. LeRoy Lawson assumed the presidency, Dr. Staton followed the example of Dr. Jones and returned to the classroom where he remained as one of the most popular professors until his retirement in 2006.

Dr. Lawson, like Hurst, continued his local church ministry for the early years of his presidency. Unlike Hurst, Lawson's church was in Arizona, requiring him to be absent from campus. In 1997, Pacific Christian College changed its corporate name to Hope International University. PCC continues as the traditional undergraduate school, the School of Graduate Studies and the School of Professional Studies emerged as two other schools under the Hope umbrella. At that time, President Lawson resigned his church ministry and moved to Southern California. During the Lawson administration, several adjoining properties were purchased to expand the growing campus. Shortly after the completion of the Lawson-Fulton Student Center - housing the school's first atheletic facilities - Dr. Lawson took retirement and in 2003 Dr. John Derry was called to the presidency. Under Dr. Derry's leadership, the Biblical Studies and Church Ministry programs at Hope gained accreditation with the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) in February 2006.

See time line for events in historical context.


Hanson, Kenneth C. "A Brief History of Pacific Christian College," Oct. 27, 1978.

Tiffin, Gerald C., Kathy Stranlund, and Mike Warner. "Framing the future : the first twenty-five years of Pacific Christian College 1928-1953." Fullerton, Calif. : Pacific Christian College, 1979.

Staton, Knofel. "History of Pacific Christian College," August 1993.

Related Links: Darling Library | Digital Archives | Taubman Collection | Pacific Bible Seminary | Hope International University | North American Christian Convention | Historical Society of Long Beach | History of the City of Long Beach

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Last updated: April 2, 2007.