Illustration by Sam Kalda, depicting hands holding books and laptops during study

The Wesleyan vision for Christian education is epitomized in Charles Wesley’s hymn “Come, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” which he wrote as a prayer for the students at the dedication for the Kingswood School in England. The fifth verse reads:

Unite the pair so long disjoined,

Knowledge and vital piety; 

Learning and holiness combined, 

And truth and love, let all men see, 

In those whom up to thee we give, 

Thine, wholly thine, to die and live. 

This deeply Christian and Wesleyan vision of joining learning and holiness captured early Free Methodists and continues to inspire SPU’s vision of a Christian liberal arts university. 

It was this vision of holiness combined with learning that compelled B.T. and Ellen Roberts to live with and serve the poor. This commitment has shaped thousands of SPU graduates with a passion for mercy and justice. 

Rick Reynolds ’75 spent almost 30 years ministering to the homeless on the streets of Seattle. Alexia Estrada ’20 works in Eastern Washington empowering agricultural workers as the director of operations at Semillero de Ideas. An SPU education forms graduates like Rick and Alexia who understand that proximity to the least of these in society is tied to being close to Jesus, and the pursuit of holiness is always social. 

For Wesleyans, the thoughtful and disciplined study of Scripture has been the foundation not only for knowledge of salvation but also for the training of just and merciful people. The first Seattle Pacific University catalog of 1893 stated: “The Bible will have a prominent place in all our work.” 

Bible professors David Nienhuis ’90 and Sara Koenig ’95 continue the University’s long tradition of teaching students to appreciate the richness of the Christian Scriptures and how to listen to them well. They train students like senior Kyler Granados, who is the officer of ministries with the Associated Students of Seattle Pacific. Granados preaches at his local church, and he is also passionate about having our campus celebrate the gospel of Jesus Christ by leading SPU programs for Resurrection Week. 

Along with a strong concern for the teaching of Scripture, the Free Methodist Church founded all its schools as liberal arts institutions to thoughtfully equip everyone for the manifold vocations of the kingdom. SPU has long understood that all careers — not just those formally designated as “ministry” — can contribute to the flourishing of the world under God’s care. SPU’s Faith & Co., with its five seasons of short films, has been a leading voice in teaching students that work in business and industry can be a place of genuine calling. SPU prepares students in every profession to engage the culture and change the world. 

Along with these rich Wesleyan themes, SPU is committed to imbuing students with a global perspective and a collaborative vision under the unity of Jesus Christ. From yesterday to today, these distinctives continue to educate thousands of students eager to join in God’s work of healing a hurting world. 

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