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End of Time for Weimar College

“After 30 years of training Seventh-day Adventist youth and young adults for lives of consecrated ministry, the Board of Directors of Weimar Institute of Health & Education voted to close the college program as of June 20, 2008. Taking fiscal responsibility, the difficult decision came after seeking various financial and ministries solutions for several years.”

“We are not abandoning our goals for the educational aspect of our program. We are going to keep that an essential part of our mission. We have to get down to bedrock and develop a solid financial foundation. We must rebuild from the ground up,” says Bob Hancock, acting chief operating officer and board chair.

The successful NEWSTART Program, will continue as the Institute builds on its strengths. The eight-step, 18 day health recovery program, helps prevent and reverse disease and is known nationally and globally.

Weimar Institute of Health & Education opened its doors in 1978 with a mission to serve the needs of others in health improvement and quality education. The academic curriculum of the college includes practical training and experience.

The college grew steadily until the early 90s, training hundreds of young adults for active ministry. Recent years have seen a steadily decreasing enrollment due to changing economics and student goals.

“The Board recognizes the challenges facing Weimar Institute and the need to take decisive, concerted action, There remains potential for areas of training in various healing arts, foreign missions and evangelism,” says Michael Orlich, M.D., acting academic dean.

The Board also voted to form a taskforce of business, finance and strategic planning experts to advise the Board in developing a sound

long-range plan that is consistent with its unique mission and philosophy.

The Institute’s leaders and dedicated staff are grateful for the many supporters who have prayed for Weimar through the years. They solicit

your continued prayers for this new journey.

Having several friends who attended Weimar College and having worked with dozens of Weimar students during the summer, I’ll miss the presence of Weimar College in Adventism. As Bull and Lockhart point out in their chapter on self-supporting institutions, schools like Weimar function in ways similar to the monastic orders in Catholicism, in part by providing flexibility for folks who aren’t comfortable with mainstream trends both in the church and in the wider culture.

Started in part to promote holistic medicine and as a refuge from new theologies and social changes between the WWII and Boomer generations, Weimar functioned as a place where parents could pass on their education to their kids during the heady days of 80s Adventism. A sense I got was that since the 90s there was significants numbers of recent converts attending the college. As a institution that helped to fuel the rise of the “Amazing Facts-style” independent evangelism, there seemed to be a sense that going to Weimar would keep one pure and on fire — if not employed too.

Three or so years ago, I talked with a professor at Weimar who mentioned that they were trying to differentiate the school from other self-supporting institutions by rebranding it as the progressive conservative place. It seemed though that Southern tended to grab part of their market share here.

It’s been interesting to see this post-Madison second generation of self-supporting institutions wield their influence on the church, especially through the powerhouse of ASI. Last summer I stopped in at Eden Valley Institute and it appears to be waning as well. I wonder how Heartland and some of the academies are doing? In the larger conversation about change, I wonder how institutions on the periphery help us — as canaries in the mine — think about the future of Adventist education and para-church ministry.

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