The mission of Geneva College is to glorify God by educating and ministering to a diverse community of students for the purpose of developing servant-leaders, transforming society for the kingdom of Christ.
We accomplish this through biblically based programs and services marked by excellence and anchored by the historic, evangelical, and Reformed Christian faith.
The curriculum is rooted in the liberal arts and sciences, vocationally focused and delivered through traditional and specialized programs.
A Mission Statement always has an historical and cultural context. The following is an attempt to interpret Geneva College's Mission Statement in that context.
Biblical revelation is clear that for all people, especially believers of Jesus Christ, all aspects of our lives are supposed to glorify God. I Corinthians 10:31 states, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." The oft-quoted statement of the Westminster Shorter Catechism says it so well: "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever."
Fundamentally, a central purpose of a Christian college is to see the glory of God in all the aspects of His Word and world. This is furthered by having students, faculty and, ultimately, the whole of academe see the glory that is God's in His creation, deeds, disciples and, above all, in His Son, the Lord of Glory.
The theological background of Geneva College results in deep commitment to holism. Often some Christians divide human beings into body and soul, mind and / or spirit. We consciously resist such dichotomy. Though distinctions are biblical, the Bible never views intellect apart from piety, or body apart from spirit, or ministry apart from education. We at Geneva College, seeing our educative calling as a ministry, understand that it involves living, athletics, social life and recreation, as well as, most importantly, the classroom, laboratory and library. Education is our ministry for the whole person.
We are, furthermore, committed to serve the parents of our students, for our biblical convictions compel us to support and encourage parents in their desire to fulfill their covenant obligation to train their children in the Lord.
Although Geneva College requires its faculty, staff and administration to be professing Christians, we do not require a faith statement for student admission. We give priority in our recruitment to the evangelical Christian community and seek to create a Christian peer influence among students. We believe, however, that the reality of evangelism and life in the world is better served by not requiring a faith test for admission. Therefore, we see evangelism and discipleship as a vital foundation for Christian education, and all students are expected to live by the standards of historic Christian morality.
Most importantly, Geneva's history has a noble record of providing education for those segments of society that have been disenfranchised. After the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, nearly one half of the student body was made up of freed black slaves. Geneva was among the earliest schools to matriculate women to a full degree program. It is our intention to build upon our history through special efforts to recruit and retain African-American, Latino, other minority and international students, for our student body must reflect the diversity of our world.
Both the model of Jesus Himself and the mandate to His disciples is that of servanthood. The word "servant" modifies "leader" because we recognize that, while not all of our graduates will be leaders as society defines leadership, the word "servant" seeks to convey the ideal of neighbor love given to people in need and of sharing that experience as well in organizations and companies for which our graduates work. In that context the word "leader" emphasizes that our goal is to mold persons who are equipped to take positions of authority and responsibility in many areas of life: business, industry, politics, the church, education, the home, medicine and law, to name a few.
As a college community of faculty, administrators and staff, we seek to be examples of this paradigm of leadership. Therefore, we have a primary purpose as an institution to be servants to the church of Jesus Christ in our task and ministry of education.
Furthermore, Geneva College, as an institution, has as one of its primary purposes to serve the worldwide church of Jesus Christ. Thus, our purpose is to see our students use their gifts within the life of various churches.
There is probably no other concept in this statement that underscores the uniqueness of Geneva College more than this. The theology that motivated the founders of Geneva College teaches that the world and its order were created good. But sin in the hearts of all men and women has so perverted society, its institutions and philosophies, that both human institutions and persons are misdirected. Rather than directed for the glory of Christ, these institutions and persons are consciously or unconsciously motivated for their own glory. We believe that there is no such thing as a neutral theory or neutral societal institution. They are either for Christ or, by virtue of their failure to confess and obey Him, against Christ.
Historically, Geneva College applied this theology to the political life of the United States by the recognition that our Republic has a fundamental flaw: the framers of the Constitution failed to confess God or Christ. Therefore, the founders of Geneva College adopted a protest position that declared that wherever Christ is not confessed, believers must dissent. Moreover, they believed that this failure to confess Christ resulted in the institution of slavery-that slavery was inimical to biblical faith. Therefore, they acted in reasoned, non-violent civil disobedience. In the 1860s Geneva College was a station on the Underground Railroad, which sought, against the law of the land, to hide and transport freed slaves. The College motto, Pro Christo et Patria (Latin for "For Christ and Country"), which might be thought to be a conservative political motto, meant, in that historic context, to be for Christ in such a way as to call the nation to repentance.
Positively, this theology confesses that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all by virtue of His mediating and redeeming work. "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells... and He (Christ) is head over all rule and authority " (Col. 2:9). He alone reigns and thus teaches truth to human beings, and any view of the world which stands apart from Christ is "empty deception" (Col. 2:8). Any allegiance that has a claim to truth independent of God offers deception. In spite of the value of a variety of expressions of non-Christian thinking, their deception is based on their human independence. Non-Christian thinking is not neutral; it rests on a loyalty to the "elementary principles of this world" [and the] "traditions of men" (Col. 2:8).
This theology also stresses that we must not be "world flight" or "culture denying" in our Christian stance. Rather, we must see God's good gifts and insights given to all human beings, whatever their relationship to God. But at the same time, we must teach and live, recognizing that believers stand in antithesis to secular and humanistic culture. Geneva College is committed to maintaining this balance between the recognition of God's gifts and insights given to all human beings and the understanding that something is radically wrong with a culture and a scholarly theory that leaves God out of its thinking. We seek to educate persons who will be equipped to think and act in a way that perceives what is good and seeks to bring the culture and society to confess and honor Christ in all the realms of life. This education means evangelism and discipleship for individuals, and it means a distinctive way of thinking, acting and organizing within the culture and society. For some, it will mean entering the "secular realm" to be salt and light. For others, depending on their gifts and calling, it will mean developing an alternative Christian way of doing, thinking and living.
For a college staff and faculty, it means that all must have a clear testimony of faith in Christ and a desire in the midst of their own brokenness to grow in Christ. We will be a worshiping, praying, growing, and caring community. For faculty and administration, it means teaching and educating in a distinctively Christian way. On the one hand we must have a growing understanding of biblical doctrine, and on the other, we must apply that understanding to our academic discipline or administration, so that we should, at the very least, apply a biblical critique to the theories and applications of our academic disciplines and, ideally, employ a uniquely Christian way of thinking. Many Christian educational institutions speak of faith and reason as the basis for their understanding of Christian education. Others speak of faith as an essential addition to learning. Not so at Geneva College. Our goal is to produce students whose faith seeks full radical expression in the scholarly, cultural, and vocational life of our community.
The phrase "kingdom of Christ" is also important and carefully chosen. Many Christian colleges emphasize that they exist to help students as individuals to make a difference in our world. Some of them would teach that the kingdom comes only after Christ's second coming, or that the best we can hope for as Christians is individual witness and influence. By contrast, Geneva College's theological roots stress that Christ calls us to kingdom living and influence now. Furthermore, the kingdom relates not only to individuals but also to corporate structures. Therefore, Christian witness is not only individual but corporate. It calls for alternative and mediative structures in society that are Christian in profession and practice. Of course, it also means the ameliorating influence of individuals on society's institutions and the cultural realities of any given age.
Though Christians work to build the kingdom of Christ now, we also recognize that Christ's kingdom will only be fully expressed when Christ comes again to consummate that kingdom. Meanwhile, we must seek, in every way consistent with His will, to build sign posts that point to His consummated kingdom.
The first question that Geneva College must raise about any curricular, co-curricular, extra-curricula, or auxiliary program is this: Is it consistent with biblical truth and practice? Therefore, every effort will be made to present the curricular material in a biblical context. All other programs, as well, must be consistent with and judged by biblical standards. All promotion and tenure decisions will be based upon this fundamental question. All program proposals and additional services will have as their first question, "Is it consistent with and grounded in biblical truth and practice?" This question addresses not only programs but also "service," because our Christian commitment means that we work in the service of Christ, therefore, we serve one another and especially our students. How can we serve students both compassionately and holistically? This must be an important, continuing question governing the college community.
Attaining our goal of excellence in all of our programs and services requires a faculty with professional credentials whose excellent teaching is recognized by their students, peers, and administration. Furthermore, excellence means a staff who perform their tasks well and with joy. We will not compromise legitimate academic standards, and we will seek to have our programs accredited and recognized by others whose standards do not compromise our Christian faith. We intend to have an internal evaluation process that is both horizontal and vertical.
Often the use of the term "Christian education" has meant, or at least been perceived to mean, less than the best. We will seek consciously and aggressively to resist that caricature. In terms of content, the word "Reformed" is capitalized not only in relation to the Reformation movement, but also to remind us that Geneva College is controlled by the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America-a historic denomination tracing its origins to the Covenanters of seventeenth-century Scotland, founded in the U.S. in 1773 and organized formally in 1810. In a broader sense, the word also describes a large community of Christians across many denominations who believe in the sovereignty of Christ in all the realms of life.
Since its inception, Geneva College has sought to serve the worldwide community of Christians and has drawn into its own community, faculty, staff and students, from other denominations. It is this denominational rootedness that has enabled Geneva to maintain and later reaffirm its Christian commitment, while at the same time ecumenically reaching out to both the evangelical Christian community and to the local community in which God has placed the College.
This Reformed and evangelical theology is expressed most explicitly in the document entitled Foundational Concepts of Christian Education, which is the basis for this Mission Statement.
The word "rooted" is carefully chosen. At its educational heart, the foundation and source of our education program is the commitment to provide for each student an understanding of both western and worldwide cultural development in art, literature, music, history and philosophy so that he or she can appreciate the beauty and thought that are the basis of the world's culture. Nevertheless, we seek to help students understand sometimes subtle--but often overt--humanism and secularism therein, so that they can critique those cultures. Part of that culture is the development of modern science. It is our intention to provide a curriculum that gives students a deep appreciation of science and its methodology both in the so-called pure sciences and the social sciences. But here too, we must involve our students in a critique of scientism and the professed neutrality of the scientific method. We are committed to developing such basic and traditional skills as grammar, as well as, in a modern sense, technology, but always in the context of the liberal arts and sciences.
Geneva College has traditionally displayed a strong commitment to the pre-professional and professional disciplines. We will continue with and expand this vocational focus while requiring all students to be rooted in the core of liberal arts and sciences, which we are committed not to dilute. We maintain that there can be no vocational transformation without a prior understanding of the culture a person seeks to transform.
Furthermore, the word "vocation" is chosen because of its original meaning: "calling." Our theology and educational philosophy enable us to see all tasks in creation as callings from the Lord. Certain vocations are not more holy than others, but all of them, when done for His glory and according to His law, are holy. That is precisely why we are not just a skills-training institution but are committed to vocational training rooted in the liberal arts and sciences.
We believe that such an education, anchored and rooted as has been described above, can be delivered both in the traditional programs for adolescent high school graduates and through programming designed for older students that account for experience-based learning, delivered in a variety of formats. Geneva College has had a long history of programming for nontraditional students. Two contemporary "specialized programs" are our Degree Completion Program and our programs for urban church leaders at the Center for Urban Theological Students in Philadelphia and the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry in Pittsburgh.
Therefore, we recognize that we need to work hard at interfacing tradition and innovation in our entire educational program so that the purpose of this Mission Statement may be more effectively carried out in the thinking and living of our students.
Written: March 31, 1993
Updated: May 27, 2003
All 50 states offer some form of reciprocity for certification to Geneva education graduates.