The Reformed Church in America Celebrates 100 Years of Partnership with Central College

Date Posted: 
Thursday, October 13, 2016

The RCA and Central College in Pella, Iowa, recognized the 100th anniversary of their partnership with a special celebration on September 30.

Central College was founded by a group of Southern Baptists in 1853. But by 1916, the founding group couldn’t continue to support both Central and its sister school in Des Moines. They chose to focus on the school in Des Moines.

This choice could have been the end of the road for Central. But instead, it ended up being the beginning of a new partnership with the RCA. The RCA purchased the school from the Baptist Convention of Iowa in 1916, saving it from closure.

Less than a year afterward, a fire destroyed several buildings on Central’s campus. Support from Pella’s Reformed community, including offering to share space in local churches, made it possible for Central to continue educating students.

Today, Central’s relationship with the RCA connects students to missions, internships, and other opportunities. Many RCA members serve as trustees, and Reformed churches across the country support student scholarships. Many Central graduates also lead RCA congregations throughout North America.

“Colleges that have been in existence as long as Central College endure because their roots run deep,” says Central College president Mark Putnam. “The ecumenical and inclusive spirit that defines our past is also the pathway to our future.”

Tony Campbell, the RCA’s associate general secretary and the director of mission engagement, joined the Central College community for the anniversary celebration, delivering the message at the morning worship service. Nathan Busker, a graduate of Central and pastor of Ponds Reformed Church in Oakland, New Jersey, delivered a keynote address at the luncheon, and Marjorie Postma Vander Wagen, member of the 50-year reunion class of 1966, provided an invocation.

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