Like many church-based institutions of higher education, Erskine College and Seminary in Due West, South Carolina, has had many battles over the relationship between faith and learning at its campus. But the drama that unfolded at the college March 3 was unlike the online debates and denominational meeting grumblings that had come before.
In a special meeting that day, the General Synod of the denomination that sponsors Erskine—the Associate Reformed Presbyterian (ARP) Church—heard a commission's report which concluded: "the oversight exercised by the Board of Trustees and the Administration of Erskine College and Seminary is not in faithful accordance with the standards of the ARP Church and the synod's previously issued directives."
More simply put, the commission found evidence of mission drift—as well as "a number of financial irregularities and administrative failures"—in the college and seminary and blamed the board for letting it happen.
As a result, the synod voted 204-to-68 to restructure the Erskine Board of Trustees, firing and replacing 14 board members and keeping 16 holdovers for a 30-member interim board of trustees. (The commission recommended that the board size be cut at the synod's June meeting from 34 members to 16.)
A preliminary report issued last month by the ARP's investigating commission found "irreconcilable and competing visions" among board members on several fronts, including the integration of faith and learning on campus. But that confusion, the commission said, was widespread.
"A significant majority of the professors interviewed had no understanding of how the Christian faith could be meaningfully integrated into their discipline," said the February 19 report. "Though several ...