Detroit’s new multi-million-dollar John Wesley College, first of a planned satellite system of twenty-five schools (see September 12 issue, page 49), struck a jagged snag last month when its founder, Nazarene pastor Dr. Kenneth Armstrong, was censured by his denomination for being involved in the project.
The school, based on a pioneering education concept for Christian colleges, was scheduled to open in two years with a $6 million plant. At issue is whether Armstrong, 42, who holds doctoral degrees from the University of Denver and Illiff School of Theology (Methodist), can stay within Nazarene church law and siphon funds from Nazarenes for an unapproved project.
Mount Olivet Nazarene College at Kankakee, Illinois, fears its own support might be curtailed by the Midwest appeal for funds for nondenominational John Wesley College. Also threatened is the traditional concept of the church college. Wesley colleges would serve as religious centers providing housing and counseling for students who want the advantages of small Christian colleges. But most course work would be taken at secular campuses, which ultimately would grant the degrees.
Armstrong is in hot water, too, because a proposed twenty-two-acre site for the Detroit Wesley College was bought with a $285,000 mortgage on the current First Nazarene Church property. Armstrong said he had hoped to use the college chapel for congregational purposes as well. Now he will seek another site, he added, because of denominational insistence that the denomination—not the local church—owns all Nazarene property.
In an unprecedented statement, the six-member Board of General Superintendents said it “does not approve or endorse (directly or indirectly) the organization ...1
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