Bible College and Seminary ?
This is a question often asked, to which the response is, Why not? Thomas Cranmer, was after all one of the leading English Reformers and probably the greatest Archbishop this country has ever known. He was a great academic, spiritual leader, and died as a protestant martyr. He was born in 1489 and lived during the reign of four monarchs, Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI and he died a martyr under Mary Tudor.
He grew up in a land where the Church of Rome held sway over the hearts, mind and souls of monarch and people alike. He was a man of many faults, and like the rest of us he failed, yet despite these shortcomings he was mightily used by God to restore to England the light of God’s Word, light which had almost been extinguished by the darkness of superstition, ignorance and idolatry.
One of the greatest errors of the Roman Church was that she placed, and indeed still places, the Church before the Bible, making the Word of God of none effect through her man-made traditions and inventions. The Bible was being hidden from the people; Cranmer sought to have this reversed for it was his desire to see the Bible in an English version and available in the church.
Another man who had a similar vision and also sought to do something about this was William Tyndale, who had during this time placed himself in exile in Europe, so as to produce and publish the Bible in English. For his efforts he was arrested, and burnt in Flanders. Just prior to his death he prayed that God would “open the king of England’s eyes”. One year later, in 1538 King Henry VIII, under the advice and persuasion of Archbishop Thomas Cramner and the Lord Chancellor Thomas Cromwell, decreed that an English Translation of the Scriptures should be placed in every parish church in England, and that churches should be left open at all convenient hours of the day so that the common people might have access to it. The translation of the Bible used comprised mainly of the work of Tyndale, it became known as the Cranmer or Chained Bible. The light of God’s Word had been restored to the realm. It is right and proper to remember a man so used by God in the name of a Bible College and Seminary that seeks to follow the principles established by Cranmer.
Thomas Cranmer is also to be remembered for his work on the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the fact that despite a recantation, he was ready to give his life for the sake of the truth and his love for his Lord Jesus Christ. The papal bull containing his sentence declared that he was condemned “for bringing in the false and heretical doctrines of Wycliffe and Luther.” At Oxford there stands a stone memorial dedicated to Cranmer and the others who perished for their faith in Christ. Cranmer Memorial Bible College and Seminary is not made of stone but is a living memorial to this great and godly Reformer, dedicated to training living stones for the service of their Lord.
A Brief History of
Bible College & Seminary
(Including The National College of Divinity)
Cranmer Memorial Bible College & Seminary was first founded in 1936 by the Protestant Evangelical Church of England Bishops, Gordon Pinder (Preston) and Charles Leslie Saul (Hayes) as "The College of Presbyters" to provide training and theological education of Readers, Deacons and Presbyters, and some others, for their denomination. (and other sympathetic congregations and individuals) The PECE was an "Evangelical Anglican", "1662 Book of Common Prayer" style group, and at first it comprised of a minimum of six congregations. The College became known as Cranmer Hall Theological College in the mid to late 1940s
In 1958 the "Evangelical Preachers Association", later known as the "Ministry of Evangelism" set up a college called the "Evangelical Institute of Theology" to offer theological education and training to its members. In 1978 it changed its organization and name to the "National College of Divinity" and it became the British Faculty of the "American Bible College, Pineland, Florida."
The Colleges started separately but in the late 1970s and early 1980s these friends found they were co-operating on many levels. Many MoE members were also PECE Ministers. Most of the Faculty of NCD were "Bishops" in the PECE.
In 1986 the work was merged and Cranmer Hall became a Faculty of NCD. About this time the NCD Changed its name from "National" to "International College of Divinity" under MB Smith,. Mainly because of the number of Third World students it had. At this time almost all of the Tutors and Administration staff were Cranmer Hall men.
1988 Perhaps the biggest blow to both colleges, Leslie Phillips (NCD) (Preston) died suddenly. Things almost collapsed completely. A decision was made to work as it had been prior to 1986.
During 1990 Church politics and doctrinal tensions had disturbed the harmony that had previously existed, and both the colleges continued but without the previous frequent contact.
In 1995 Dr Bill Coppack (Darwen) accepted the oversight of the ICD from Dr Michael B Smith (Fleetwood) and found a new beginning was needed, he went back to the name of NCD and sought to engage the CHTC as co-workers again. With great anticipation an agreement was made, but very little happened during the period 1995 - 2000. Also, before this happened Drs. C. Leslie.Saul (Dewsbury)(1991) , C. George Saunders (Rotherham) (1991),(on CMBCS side) had both died.
When Dr. Coppack also died, suddenly, in 2002, others rallied to make sure the work of MoE did not collapse, but continue (and it still does now under the title of "Fellowship of Evangelistic Ministries") The educational and training wing being "The Evangelistic Academy".
During this time the following were faculty members, tutors and or administrators
C. Leslie Saul * (Dewsbury)
C. George Saunders* (Rotherham)
Leslie Phillips * (Preston)
Wm Coppack * (Darwen)
Michael B. Smith * (Fleetwood)
Theo Danson-Smith * (Edinburgh)
Morrison Creggan (Portadown)
Wm Hughes (Norwich)
J.Ramsey Cunningham* (Preston)
Peter T. Jamieson* (Bingley)
Philip J. Rimmer (Bolton)
Victor S. Hope* (Whitby)
Victor S. Hope (as Provost (the title then for the Chief Executive Officer) had oversight of CHTC from 1988 to 1997.
Those marked with an * acted for both colleges in some capacity at some time or another. There are others who helped in various capacities who are not listed as records are very scant. Until 1997 those approaching via MoE went into NCD those approaching via PECE into Cranmer Memorial but largely the same course materials were used all along. and that was the contact level and co-operation that persisted throughout.
In 1991 CHTC changed its name to Cranmer Memorial Bible and Reformation Theology College.
In 1997 it became known as Cranmer Memorial Bible College, it added Seminary to its title in 2003 because most of its Students were already qualified Ministers and or Graduates elsewhere.
In 1997 Dr Peter J. Gadsden (Bexhill on Sea) accepted the oversight of the College as Principal (Chief Executive Officer) and held the office until 2007. When he became Chancellor.
In 1997 CMBCS underwent thorough reorganisation and implemented a complete new management structure.
In 2004 CMBCS re-confirmed its status as an associate (British) faculty of the American Bible College Pineland Florida. The College also has an association with The International Bible College & Seminary the IBC&S started in 1973 at Independence Missouri.
In 2007 Dr Tom Boyle (Belfast) accepted the oversight of the College as Principal and held office until 2010.
In 2010 Professor REL Rodgers (Bangor) accepted the oversight of the College as Principal.
2011 saw the College achieve the milestone of Seventy Five years service 1936 - 2011
In 2012 Dr Philip J Rimmer (Bolton) accepted the oversight of the College as Principal.
Those listed below are the Office Bearers who served by the grace of Almighty God in the roll of the Chief Executive Officer for the College for the time specified.
Charles Leslie Saul (Dewsbury) (Principal) 1936 - 1986
Clarence George Saunders (Rotherham) (Dean) 1986 -1988 (as also Dean of NCD)
Victor Stanley Hope (Whitby) (Provost) 1988 - 1997 (as also Provost of PECE)
Peter J. Gadsden (Bexhill on Sea) (Principal) 1997 - 2007
Thomas Boyle (Belfast) (Principal) 2007 - 2010
Robert E. L. Rodgers (Bangor) (Principal) 2010 - 2012
Philip J. Rimmer (Bolton) (Principal) 2012 -
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