In his book Number 20, Arnold Hunt has this to say about the Chapman-Alexander Bible Institute:
In looking back over the history of the C.A.B.I. it is impossible not to feel respect and wonder at the extraordinary generosity of those who launched it. Has there been since 1912 any comparable act of benefaction in the Church in South Australia? In retrospect it can be seen that the founders' hopes were too ambitious, even allowing for the setback caused by the outbreak of the Great War...The number of students was bound to be small and the likelihood of the Institute serving Australasia [his italics] was always remote.1.
I have to say that from my research, the prospects and the possibilities of C.A.B.I. at its institution were greater than Dr Hunt suggests. Any institution of this nature would struggle under the burdens that C.A.B.I. bore. There was the outbreak of the Great War which removed teachers, students and finance. There was the hostility of the church papers. This meant that C.A.B.I. was always struggling to make its name and its aims known, even to the point of fighting the belief that it had closed.2. There was continued misunderstanding of the aims of the Institute. As a training center for lay ministry, it was before its time. After the war it struggled for relevancy. The world had changed, but the council hadn't the resources to change the curriculum to meet the needs of the new world. One of the first things the council did after deciding to hand over the buildings and funds to the Methodist conference was to appoint a curriculum committee to update the curriculum.3.
When compared to other theological institutions of the time, the quality of the work done by the institute during the period up to 1919 is staggering. The Australian Christian Commonwealth records that in the five years up to november 1913, the Brighton Training Home had had a total of 88 students and 55 evening students.4. For the same period, during the war, C.A.B.I. had some 253 students of which 31 were day students and the rest were evening and possibly correspondence students.5. How accurate these figures are is open to speculation. One aspect of doubt is how much involvement does the title student signify in the above numbers. It must be noted that W. Reed in reporting to the Executive of C.A.B.I. on one occasion doubts whether two students who were irregular should be considered students.6.
As for Dr Hunt's contention about the likelihood of the Institute serving Australasia it must be noted that C.A.B.I. received enquiries from Queensland, N.S.W., Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. In May of 1915 the resident students were from N.S.W., Victoria, Tasmania, New Zealand as well as South Australia.7. Even allowing for the enthusiasm that is evident in Bible Institute News, it seems that C.A.B.I. was on the way to being Australasian. It is very hard to make cut and dried statements about what would have happened if the Great War had not intervened.
B. The 1909 and 1912 Missions and the Beginning
In 1909 a mission was held in Adelaide by Dr Wilbur Chapman who was supported by the singer, Charles Alexander. In May 1912 these two returned to Adelaide. At this time there were still over 400 converts of the first mission continuing to live 'lives of faithfulness to Christ'.8. The 1912 mission produced over 1000 converts.8. To hear the mission described, it was a time of great emotion. It was during this second mission that C.A.B.I. was born. Mrs E. White describes it thus:
there was a feeling that something should be done to perpetrate the work. The inspiration came to me that an organization on the lines of the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago should be established in Australia. I wrote the suggestion on a slip of paper and handed it to my husband. The result was the offer of our home for the work.9.
Its purpose according to Alexander and Maclean, 'was to provide spiritual training for the young people who had taken a stand for Christ, and had definitely surrendered their lives to Him for service'10. Although this may have been the initial aim, by the time of its founding, C.A.B.I. was aimed to fulfill a number of other purposes. The organization involved in founding C.A.B.I. was the Kings Business League of Personal Workers. This body aimed to 'unite evangelical personal workers',11. but suffered due to lack of a headquarters. At the beginning it was to be an evangelistic center where more missions like the 1912 mission could be planned. There was to be a hall built that would seat 3000 people and the young men who were going to America to prepare for positions with bodies like the Y.M.C.A. could be trained at this center. "Wekewauban" was given by the Whites to house the Governor, the Secretary and a limited number of students. The McBrides gave 3000 pounds to build the hall,12. this was later increased to 4000 pounds. The aims of the League were discussed with Chapman and Alexander in a hurried meeting in November 1912, while their ship, bound for Freemantle, was docked at Adelaide.13. Chapman and Alexander expressed their whole hearted support and later Dr Chapman was instrumental in finding C.A.B.I.'s first principal.
The building was transferred to the trustees of C.A.B.I. on the 31st of January 1913 and a council was formed including the Whites, Sir Charles Goode, Mr J. McBride and Mr A. Langford.14 J. Delehanty, the secretary of the mission,15. was appointed general secretary.16.
The reaction of the churches to the founding of the college was not good.* The editor of the Australian Christian Commonwealth expected the Institute to be 'more of the nature of a parasite than of a healthy support to the churches'.17. When taken to task for his attitude by Delehanty who stated:
It is thought by very many earnest, devoted and intelligent christian men that the results achieved by some of our existing theological institutions are not as helpful to the kingdom of God as they might be...,18.
he promptly closed the debate. The reaction of the churches was based partly on the competition that the Institute would give to their own colleges. On December 6th the secretary of Brighton Training Home commented in Australian Christian Commonwealth on how Brighton had the potential to meet the aims of C.A.B.I..19. He commented further in April 1913 that Brighton housed 12 students and had room for up to 20.20. It must be stressed that as demonstrated in the above quotation, the battle was also drawn on theological lines. The depth of feeling of the editor of Australian Christian Commonwealth is demonstrated in that the next reference to C.A.B.I. that I have been able to find is concerned with handing over of C.A.B.I. to the Methodist conference in 1927 (apart from modest advertisements for students).21. Despite this the list of people involved with C.A.B.I. reads like a who's who of the church at the time including Moderators, noted ministers as well as people important to the church overseas.22.
C. The First Year
The first teaching semester began on the 14th of July 1914.23. As Dr Hunt points out 3 weeks later war broke out.24. The first principle Dr John Elliott had arrived on the 9th of May. They had a modest student body numbering 4 residents in addition to the evening students. The course was a mixture of practical and theory. On Mondays Dr Elliott taught 'Bible Truths and Personal Difficulties', Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays the students were taught 'Fundamental Bible Doctrines' and 'Practical Methods of Christian Work'. In the evening on Friday, Rev D. McNicol taught 'History', 'Work Methods' and 'Sunday School' this was in addition to Rev W. Reed teaching 'English Composition and Literature' and Mr Delehanty teaching 'Commercial Arithmetic' on wednesdays and thursdays, as well as music. On Saturday afternoon and Evening there was a special program that included a run through of the following weeks sunday school lesson, a 'christian growth hour', (actually 45minutes), as well as a series of bible studies going under the name of 'Popular Bible Hour'.25.
During these first few months the demand for teaching grew. In February 1915 we find that the lecture room of the Institute couldn't accommodate the number of Students that they had. These students were no doubt largely evening students. To house the growing classes until such time as the hall was built an 'Iron Tabernacle' was erected. This was provided by the McBrides and from pictures, was substantial.26. All tuition was free, the only costs were for board 15/- for residents and registration 5/- which was later dropped to 2/6. Residents were however expected to work on the premises 1 hour a day.27.
In May the Bible Institute News records five students, two women and 3 men. That there were only five residents was blamed on the War and the drought.28. In Bible Institute News, August 1915, there are a further 3 residents and 2 day students. Some of the Students had been involved in mission work, one at the Mitcham Army Camps, another at the East Brunswick mission. The Principal and Rev McNicol had also been very active. Dr Elliott filled the pulpit at Port Adelaide Congregational Church and McNicol held a 10 day mission at Ballarat.29. This kind of activity is continued to the end of the year.
The numbers of students and the activity described above can't be taken to indicate that C.A.B.I. was well known, well understood or accepted. It does indicate however that the works that cover this period are either misleading or inaccurate. Hunt seems to suggest that C.A.B.I. closed immediately after the outbreak of war.30. Stribley on the other hand has the building turned into flats during the war, an event that happened somewhere in 1921.31. The Institute continued, however, to be misunderstood and relatively unknown. In the period between 1915 and 1919, Bible Institute News concerns itself with explaining the Institute's name, its aim or its current status, ie that it is open, no less than 7 times. That is seven out of ten issues has one of these explanations.32. This was no doubt partly due to the fact that the Institute was only the second (they claimed that they were the first and only one),33. in Australia.34 The attitude of the church papers must have also made it difficult to advertise the role of the Institute.
D. The War Begins to Bite
November 1915, marks the beginning of the end of the Institute. Bible Institute News for this month contains an explanation why C.A.B.I. students were not enlisting. The statement stresses that the students have a higher calling, that of ministry. If one should 'hear the call for national service'35. then they would be encouraged to enlist. It seems likely that this was in response to criticism of C.A.B.I.'s acceptance of male students fit for enlistment. If this is the case then the critics were successful. The next issue of Bible Institute News restricts entry to women and reports the decision of the committee that:
there is even greater need that all the present and prospective men students show their fidelity to God, by joining the colours and taking their stand with the Allied forces in helping to overthrow the German Legions and restore once again the world's peace.36.
This was at a time when Dr Elliott, the principal, was stressing the need for further expansion of teaching force and advertising. This decision meant the end of day lectures. Under this regime Dr Elliott would not have enough to do, and so he resigned. The suddenness of the change in attitude of the committee is stressed in the date of Elliott's letter of resignation, that is 24th of November 1915,37. the same month as the support for the students not enlisting was published. It could be construed that the first statement was published by Elliott and the second by the committee.
By July 1916, the Institute was again accepting men, but only those who were unfit to enlist.38. Although the February issue of Bible Institute News states that there are to be no more day lectures, in September 1917 it was stated that in 1916 there were 9 day students.39. It could well be that the Institute found itself in a position to continue lectures, having both women and the above men to draw on as students.
An important factor for the continuing activity from this time on was the completion of a correspondence course by Elliott before he returned to America. By February 1918 there were 30 students enrolled in the correspondence course even one from India.40.
Mr Delehanty moved into the house to superintend the women students.41. Later he is released to become a missionary evangelist for C.A.B.I. and Rev W. Gray, one of the Tutors was moved into the position of acting principal.42.
The number of diplomas awarded demonstrates the difficulty experienced during the war. There were 7 diplomas awarded up to January 1919. Four of those were to men and three to women.43. 3 of the diplomas awarded to men were awarded at the end of 191544. and one at the end of 1916.45. The Institute enrolled 8 or 9 men in 1915 but only one continued to finish his diploma. 9 out of the 11 diploma students enrolled from 1916 to 1918 were women and the sex of the other two is unknown.46. Only four of the diplomas were awarded in the period between 1916 and 1919 compared to 3 in 1915. All except one who won diplomas entered before 1916.47.
The struggle of the war years is further demonstrated in the relief that is evident in Bible Institute News in January 1919. In the preceding years the activity of Delehanty as missionary evangelist is stressed as well as the achievements of the college. However when examined apart from the correspondence course and night classes which were well attended, the majority of the achievements relate to before 1916 or arise out of that period.
When the war was over, money was sought to provide bursary scholarships for students. Money was also sought to endow the salary of a principal. Two new correspondence courses were being created, one for home missionaries and one for lay preachers.48. It is easy to believe that the lack of male students continued after the war. Bible Institute News includes a picture of a memorial service for Dr Chapman. On the balcony that was used as a rostrum, there is a row of young women who were probably the resident students.49. The January 1919 issue of Bible Institute News was presumably the last published, the collection was entered into the State library in 1923.
E. 1919 to 1924
Although there were great hopes that now the Institute could realize its potential, this period marks the death throes of C.A.B.I. as a separate entity. According to Stribley, Rev W. Gray continued as acting principal until 1921 when he retired.50. To replace him a Mr J.F. Arthur, Vice-principal of Glasgow Bible Institute for 25 years, was engaged. However the prospects for the college and the number of students caused him to resign within the year.51. According to S.C. Myers the college was converted into flats in 1921 and a small lecture hall erected.52. It is perhaps significant that the C.A.B.I. visitors book only extends to 1921, and in 1924 is put to use as a minute book.
F. 1924 to 1926
The new minute book was started in 1924 and shows the hard times that the Institute has fallen on. We find the committee involved in an argument with SA Gas Co about who should pay for the gas that has leaked between the master meter and the 4 meters for the flats. The iron Tabernacle erected to solve overcrowding is now being rented out to various groups including the Girl Guides. The small lecture hall is now adequate to house the students. The marquee that was purchased for the missions held by the missionary evangelist is up for sale.53. However there is still teaching being carried out. Rev W. Reed and Rev S.C. Myers are being paid 11/4/3 and 4/4/6 per month respectively as tutors.54. If we are to use the 10/-per lecture hour offered to visiting lecturers in 1926 as a guide,55. then they were working between them some 30 hours. As for students, in first term there were 5, two of which were so irregular that Reed wonders if they should be called students.56. It is significant that the Bursary fund started in 1919 to fund students without the means to support themselves is now closed. The lack of interest in the Institute is such that even free board and tuition is not drawing in students.57.
Early in 1924, S.C. Myers had to withdraw from tutoring due to illness. This left W. Reed, a tutor from February 1916 or before,58. the only regular tutor.59.
G. The Last Straw
The executive meeting of February 1926 received the final death blow for C.A.B.I. as a separate entity. Rev W. Reed resigned due to age and ill health.60. Although grateful for the long service by Reed, the committee was left in an untenable position. They had no tutors, few students, and while the original endowments were largely intact, no money for day to day expenses including much needed renovations. As to how decisions were made for the future at this time, the minute book is silent. A letter to the General Committee mentions that the Executive was involved in a number of informal meetings.61. In February of that year the South Australian Methodist Conference met and one of the things that was discussed was the need for new premises to replace Brighton training Home. These new premises were to be used not only for ordinands but also unspecified others.62. A member of the Committee empowered to find these premises was S.C. Myers who was also a member of the C.A.B.I. executive.63. The executive of C.A.B.I. were well aware that the methodist conference was looking to set up a college and the aims of that college were very close to those of C.A.B.I.. The main instigator of the offer of C.A.B.I. was R.H.White, which was appropriate since he was both an originator and the chairman of C.A.B.I. committees. On the 1st of March 1926, he writes to a Mr Uren that he wished the ideals and the work of C.A.B.I. to be carried out by the conference.64. On the 10th of the month a special meeting of the General committee was called to consider the motion that the Institute be given over to the Methodist conference. This motion was unanimously accepted.65. A special meeting of the General Committee called on the 17th showed a marked increase in enthusiasm by appointing committees to plan a new curriculum and to appoint a new dean.66.
In trying to gauge the significance of C.A.B.I. one has to consider several factors. As has been mentioned above there were a great many important figures of the time involved including Frank Lade, Dr Torr, J.R.Fiddian and Dr Seymour. The numbers of students also demonstrates its importance at the time. Even though the majority of the 253 students were evening students the number is still large. It seems to have been the mistake of the historians who have mentioned C.A.B.I. to project the events of the post war period into the war period and thus dismiss the significance of the Institute.
'Up to the time of ceasing to be a separate entity in 1926, ex-students of the Institute were found engaged in Christian work in India, China, United States of America, Victoria, Queensland, Northern Territory, and South Australia. Also engaged in this state were three Sisters of the People who received their training, or were being trained at this Institute...67.
The reasons for the difficulty that the Institute found itself in are easy to see. The hostility of the church press to C.A.B.I. and the continued misunderstanding of the aims and purpose of C.A.B.I. demonstrates one of two major reasons. The ideas embodied in the project were before their time. This is also demonstrated by the extent of the generosity of Dr Torr in setting up the Brighton Training home out of his own resources.68. Theological training was not seen as a high priority by the church. The second major reason was the war. There is steady increase of interest and students up to the beginning of 1916, the stagnation caused by the refusal to enroll fit men was never really recovered from no doubt partly due to the general problems that all the churches experienced in the post war period.
Much has been made of the generosity of both the Whites and the McBrides, however their gifts, while magnificent, must be seen in the context of an age of generous giving. Dr Torr has already been mentioned, there was also Mr Gartrell who gave Rose Park church to the Methodist conference.69.
The C.A.B.I. council continued to meet until around 1969 when it was disbanded because it was seen as unnecessary with the existence of the white trust committee.70. Today the aims and the aspirations of the original founders are met by the Lay Education center, and the teaching of White Scholars by Parkin-Wesley.
Alexander H.C. & Maclean J.K. Charles M. Alexander: A Romance of Song and Soul-Winning (London 1920).
Australian Christian Commonwealth (South Australian Methodist Paper Copies held at the Mortlock Library S.A. and the R.H.White Library, 20 King William Rd Wayville SA)
Bible Institute News (Newsletter/magazine published by C.A.B.I. held at the Mortlock Library S.A.)
Correspondence R.H.White to A.R.Uren 1st March 1926, (Held with the White Trust Papers UCA SA Synod)
Hunt A.D.(ed.) Number 20: A Pictorial History of Theological Education at No. 20, King William Rd (Adelaide 1980).
Hunt A.D. This Side of Heaven (Adelaide 1985).
Minutes of A.C.A.B.I. 1924-1969 (Held with the White Trust Papers UCA SA Synod)
Myers S.C. Statement 1: The Australasian Chapman-Alexander Bible Institute (held with the White Trust Papers UCA SA Synod)
Parker D. Fundamentalism and Conservative Protestantism in Australia, 1920-1980 (Queensland 1982).
Stribley G.B. The Jubilee of the Chapman-Alexander Bible Institute (Adelaide 1964).
J. Appendix: Students of C.A.B.I. up to 1919.#
|A.P.Mann||1914||M||Peak Hill Mission|
|W. Taylor||1914||M||Asst Pastor, Baptists|
|P.G.Wilkins||1915||M||Killed in Action|
* M.C. Cumming married F. Hartwich and shared in his ministry.
#This table is based largely on Bible Institute News September 1918 p4. Note this table is not complete.
1.Hunt A.D. Number 20 p14.
2.Bible Institute News Sept 1914, p3.
3.Minutes of A.C.A.B.I. General Committee, 17th March 1926.
4.Australian Christian Commonwealth 21st November 1913, p3.
5.Bible Institute News September 1918, p4.
& Alexander H.C. & Maclean J.K. Charles M. Alexander p191.
6.Minutes of A.C.A.B.I. General Committee 19th July 1924.
7.Bible Institute News May 1915.
8.Alexander H.C. & Maclean J.K. p190.
9.The News 15th March 1926, p4.
10.Alexander H.C. & Maclean J.K. p191.
11.The Advertiser 19th November 1912 p1.
12.The Advertiser 19th November 1912 p1.
13.Alexander H.C. & Maclean J.K. p192.
14.S. C. Myers Statement 1 p1. 15.Stribley G.B. The Jubilee of C.A.B.I. p4.
16.S. C. Myers Statement 1 p1.
*.For a survey of reactions of others see Stribley G.B. pp7,8.
17.Australian Christian Commonwealth 22nd November 1912, p11.
18.Australian Christian Commonwealth 29th November 1912, p18.
19.Australian Christian Commonwealth 6th December 1912 p15.
20.Australian Christian Commonwealth 2nd April 1913, p11.
21.Australian Christian Commonwealth cf p7, May 1st & 5th June 1914.
22.Bible Institute News May 1915, p12 & August p5.
23.Stribley G.B. p13.
24.Hunt A.D. Number 20 p13.
25.Bible Institute News February 1915, pp7-9.
26.Bible Institute News February 1915, pp7-8.
27.Bible Institute News February 1915, p11.
28.Bible Institute News May 1915, p7.
29.Bible Institute News August 1915, pp8,12.
30.Hunt A.D. Number 20 p13.
31.Myers S.C. Statement 1 p15.
32.Bible Institute News 1915: November p7, August p14, May p8, 1917: September p3, 1918: September p7, 1919: January p5.
33.Bible Institute News January 1919, p6.
34.Parker D. Fundamentalism p542.
35.Bible Institute News November 1915, p7-8
36.Bible Institute News February 1916, p9.
37.Bible Institute News February 1916, p10.
38.Bible Institute News July 1916, p2.
39.Bible Institute News September 1917, p7.
40.Bible Institute News February 1918, p14.
41.Bible Institute News January 1916, p14.
42.Bible Institute News September 1917, pp7,8.
43.Bible Institute News January 1918, p17; January 1919 p4.
44.Bible Institute News February 1916, p3.
45.Bible Institute News December 1916, p10.
46.Bible Institute News January 1918, p17.
47.Bible Institute News January 1918, p17; January 1919 p16.
48.Bible Institute News January 1919, pp4,10,11.
49.Bible Institute News January 1919, p9.
50.Stribley G.B. p15.
51.Stribley G.B. p15.
52.S. C. Myers Statement 1 p1
53.Minutes of A.C.A.B.I. General Committee February 12th 1924.
54.Minutes of A.C.A.B.I. General Committee February 12th 1924.
55.Minutes of A.C.A.B.I. Executive February 1926.
56.Minutes of A.C.A.B.I. General Committee July 19th 1924.
57.Minutes of A.C.A.B.I. General Committee February 12th 1924.
58.Bible Institute News February 1916 p2.
59.Minutes of A.C.A.B.I. Executive May 30th 1924.
60.Minutes of A.C.A.B.I. Executive February 1926.
61.Minutes of A.C.A.B.I. General Committee March 17th 1926.
62.Minutes of S.A. Methodist Conference 1926 p117.
63.Minutes of S.A. Methodist Conference 1926 pp11,13,17.
64.Letter R.H.White to A.R.Uren 1st March 1926.
65.Minutes of A.C.A.B.I. General Committee March 10th 1926.
66.Minutes of A.C.A.B.I. General Committee March 17th 1926.
68.Australian Christian Commonwealth 21st November 1913, p3.
69.Australian Christian Commonwealth 20th February 1914, p11.
70.This is according to Dr C.R.Biggs the present Principal (1990)