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Histories of the Development of

Spicer Adventist University


By Sunil Sarkar
The faithful work of the Adventist missionaries are the reason
for the beginning of todays hundred years old Spicer Adventist
University. Before the starting of the Adventist work in South India,
in the month of April, 1904, Elder Henry Armstrong was sent from
Calcutta mission to Sri Lanka (Spicer, 1904). After a year, in the
month of April, 1905, Elder L. J. Shaw the superintendent for the
field of India had made a trip to Sri Lanka via Madras. He was
amazed by the people, culture and climate of Madras and had seen
the possibility to start the mission station in South India (Shaw,
1905). Because of this vision, Brother E.B. Meyer, his wife Sister E.
Meyers and Sister Miss A. Orr, was initially sent as the Bible
teachers and literature evangelists to spread the seeds among the
Tamil and Telugu people of South India (Orr, 1905). After two years
of the spreading of the advent seeds, in 1907 Brother J.S. James,
his wife Sister James and Sister Miss Shryock had come to
Tinnevelly district of South India with the purpose to open a
treatment room, school and a mission station. Initially they had
rented a house and half of which they had used to give treatments
to native Tamil people of Tinnevelly district. And then, after two
years, with six months break when they had returned back to
Tinnevelly in January, 1909, they had rented a new house from a
teacher at Nazareth, Tinnevelly. Near this location with the help of
the mission funds by October, 1909, they were able to build
bungalow at Nazareth which became the first permanent mission
station of South India. This time they had started a school and a

treatment room in a rented quarter at Nazareth, Tennevelly (James,


1909). The school at Nazareth flourished and produced many of
students for advanced studies. After six years of continuation of
schooling at Nazareth, in the month of April 1915, with 13 students
from Nazareth School, Brether J.S. James and G.G. Lowry had
begun a higher secondary school at Coimbatore, South India, which
is today called Spicer Adventist University.
The starting of the higher secondary school at Coimbatore was
the result of the hard labor Brother J.S. James, his wife and Sister
Miss Shryock had put to develop the childrens school Nazareth and
the treatments they were providing to the native Tamil people of
Tinnevelly district of South India. After few months of break and the
General Meeting of India Union Mission at Lucknow from December
25th to January 4th, 1909, Brother and Sister James with Sister
Miss Shryock had come back to Tinnevelly. This time they returned,
they had rented a new house from a teacher at Nazareth, Tinnevelly
which was a mile away from their old mission center for work where
they used to give treatments at Tinnevelly. Initially they had been
continuing the treatments at the old center as half of the old house
was given to them freely to give treatments to the sick people.
Through the sands they walked a mile every working day or traveled
by bandy when ever found to go to their working station at the old
mission center where Sister James and Sister Miss Shryock used to
give treatments from 9 to 11 AM for two hours every day. They had
taken a sixteen years young Tamil girl and a twenty years young
Tamil boy to train them to assist the native Tamil people. Brother
James had started to get acquainted with the people of Nazareth as
he visited people and conducted Bible study in their homes. As he
met large number neighbors and children every day, had made him

realize about the importance of a school for the mission work and
as he had expressed, found favor from the native Sabbath-keepers
and neighbor-hood to start a school. So, in the month of August
1909 they had started the first school of South India in a rented
apartment at Nazareth, Tinnevelly.

In the month of October, 1909 the education work, medical


work and the evangelism work was progressed so rapidly. The
Nazareth School had started just a month ago and within a month
the number of student rose to sixty. During this time Brother
James also had rented another new quarter at Nazareth for the
purpose of the treatment work and the old treatment room at the
old mission center was used for the functioning of the Division of
South India Mission. The superintendent of the India Union Mission
Elder J.L. Shaw with Dr. Menkel had visited South India from
Lucknow headquarter in the middle of the month of February 1909
when the plans were laid, a land was purchased and the foundation
for a mission bungalow was dug at Nazareth to begin the
construction to start a permanent mission station at South India
(James, 1909). And the bungalow was completed in the month of
October, 1909 and on Thursday, October 14 th, 1909 a dedication
service was conducted in the bungalow verandah in which hundred
and twenty five native Tamil people attended. Since then they had
conducted the Sabbath morning and evening services in the
bungalow verandah and the number of attendee increased every
Sabbath (James, 1909). And with the support of these Sabbath
keepers, the neighbors and three dedicated teacher who were
trained at C.M.S mission, the school started to flourish. And by

January, 1910 the number of student increased to eighty four and


the class rooms had become small for the students (Miller, 1910).
The progresses remained constant for the Nazareth School and
other field of South India. After a year in the month of January
1911, seventy nine students enrolled with seven classes for the
children up to eight years old. Initially they were afraid to start the
Sabbath school class in the school, but when they had started the
Sabbath school on 7th January, 1911, found no objection from the
parents that the students would learn values in the school for an
hour everyday (Lowry, 1911). During this time the local committee
of South India mission had voted to buy a piece of land for a
permanent boarding school, dispensary and church service
purposes, and so they had found a suitable land at Pragasapuram,
Natereth, Tinevelly. After processing the registration with the
government office, they had started to build the school building in
February, 1911 (James, 1911). The syllabus for the school with
outline up to six standards and was sent to Lucknow head office for
the accommodation of seventy five students-forty boys and thirty
five girls. In the month of April, 1911, the school building at
Pragasapuram, Nazareth, was almost ready with concrete floor, mat
wall, tile or iron roof having the suitable land for raising fruits and
vegetables ( Shaw, 1911). Finally on Friday, June 2nd 1911, the first
permanent school building at Pragasapuram, Nazereth was
dedicated for the Adventist mission school purposes (James, 1911).
The old school at Nazareth was moved to this new location to
function as a boarding school. Even having bigger classrooms for
the seventy five students as it was outlined, in the month of August,
1912, the students enrolment reached to hundred-sixty seven boys
and thirty three girls ( Perin, 1912). And during the March, 1913,

some good Christian teachers like Brother G.G. Lowry, Brother E.D.
Thomas, Brother Arputham Asiwatham and few others had started
to plant the seeds of truth for the moral development of the
students ( Asiwatham, 1913). Many students at the boarding school
at Pragasapuram, Nazareth, Tinnevelly, were sharp in their studies,
hardworking for manual labor and confident in canvassing skills to
sell Adventist literatures during their vacations (Thomas, 1913). The
school had already started to produce Adventist scholars and
worker for the future Adventist field of India.

Picture by G.G. Lowry, August 1915.

As the advanced students had grown in knowledge and stature


in Nazareth School, the demands for the higher education had also
increased during year 1914. And the support of India Union

Mission and General Conference of Seventh day Adventist were


tremendously blessed the Adventist education for field of South
India. The need of material resources and human resources were
met by the Mission Board to expand the schooling, nurturing and
canvassing work in India. During this the Biennial Conference of
the India Union Mission was held at Calcutta from December 18th28th, 1914, when the General Conference president of Seventh-day
Adventist, Elder. A.G. Daniells, had visited India to conduct the
General Meetings. It was the first visit of a General Conference
president to in India which brought rapid progress and development
for the field. Brother Daniells inspired the field workers of India to
focus on Institutionalization rather than focusing on the local
businesses. Because of the outbreak of the European war, twenty
five new English missionaries were sent to labor in the field of India.
Among these missionaries Brethren Belgrave, Nelson, Loasby,
Kellar, Wyman, Morries, Marrow, Blue, Ludington, Furnival, their
wives and Miss Boose were appointed for the different fields of
India. In the month of December 1914 the Pacific Press Publishing
Association, Mountain View California also had donated Rs. 3,276
to purchase a lithograph press to benefit all the five Divisions of
India with vernacular literatures. These Divisions of India Union
Mission were- Bengal and Burma, North India, North West India,
Bombay Presidency and South India (Salisbury, 1915). In January,
1915, The International Tract Society at Lucknow had started to
produce the first vernacular literatures in Urdu, Hindi, Bengali,
Tamil and Burmese with a few tracts in Marathi and Santali to help
the education ministries, healing ministry and literature ministries
of the Adventist fields of India, which was the reason for rapidly
expansion of the Adventist church of India (Raymond, 1915). The
spirit of institutionalization transmitted from the heart of Elder A.G.

Daniells in the Biennial Conference at Calcutta, and it was upheld


by all the field workers of India. Because of this conference, in the
month of January Brother J.S. James and G.G.Lowry started to
plan for a higher secondary school in South India.
The plans to start a school for higher education in South India
had begun in the month of January 1915 as Brother J.S. James
and Brother G.G. Lowry had begun to find a location for a higher
secondary school. Brother Morrow was a very expert professional
for the educational institution had joined the South India field as
education secretary after the Biennial Conference. He and the wife
had been initially learning the Tamil language and get acquainted
with the field for few months. During this time Brother Peugh and
the wife had been working in the French colony at Pondicherry in
accompany with brother Devasahayam since September 1914.
Brother James had visited them on 22nd, November, 1914 baptized
seven souls at Pondicherry. And Brother E.D. Thomas was busy
giving Bible studies at Pragasapuram, Nazareth boarding school to
prepare some more grown up students for baptism. During the
month of January, 1915 Brother G.G. Lowry and the wife had been
working among the native people at Trichinopoly. Brother James
often had taken Brother Lowry to go look for a suitable location for
the higher secondary school. On February 1st, 1915 Brethren
James and Lowry had visited Nagercoli , Trivandrum and Quilon in
the state of Travncore in the graceful hills and valleys of Malayalam
country. They had very much liked Malayalam country because of
its natural beauty, but, because it was yet far to get acquainted with
the native people of the field, they had not chosen the location. And
then finally they in the first week of February, 1915 Brethren J.S.
James and G.G. Lowry had visited Coimbatore where they had

found suitable climate and ample accommodations for Brother G.


G. Lowry to secure adjacent property to caring on a Higher
Secondary School ( James , 1915).
The year 1915 was one of the noblest years for the field of
South India as it had achieved the noblest purpose of advanced
education to train the native mission workers for the noblest cause
of gospel preaching in the field of India. As Brethren J.S. James and
G.G. Lowry had visited Coimbatore in the first week of February,
1915, they had selected the location at Coimbatore because of its
ample accommodations, having seventy thousands of Tamil, Telugu,
Kanarese people leaving in its borders with convenient railway
transportations and suitable climate surrounded by the beautiful
mountains ( Lowry,1915). On March 1st, 1915 they had initially
visited the area to get acquainted with the people and rented three
large rooms which had four acres of land around it to do gardening
and other school activities to make it a dwelling place for the
students, teachers and faculties. And then Brother G.G. Lowry had
begun a series of meetings three times a week in the first week of
April 1915 in which few native people of Coimbatore had attended
with their Bible and Note Books (Lowery, 1915). During the months
of May and June, 1915, Brethren J.S. James and G.G. Lowry with
few other workers and students from Nazareth Boarding School had
been preparing the school buildings in new Higher Secondary
School at Coimbatore. One of those three large houses they had
rented was a large cotton ware house which they had put a
partition in the middle and made rooms for boys to live in one side
and another side to use for school purposes. They had secured
another small house for the girls to live near the bungalow of
Brother G. G. Lowry. To start the schooling, thirteen advanced

students (six boys and seven girls) were moved from the Nazareth
Boarding School to Coimbatore Boarding School with their
headmaster Brother Gnanasegamoni and the wife. After the
schooling begun eight more students had joined the school- four
from Pondicherry, two from Telugu country and two from
Coimbatore. Most of these students were in advanced level of their
studies that had been learning with Brother and Sister James in
their schools since eight years. And most of these students had
come to a far country for the first time in their life to stay in the
boarding school. The advanced schooling started at Coimbatore
Boarding School on July 12th 1915 for Brother G.G. Lowry was
given over all in charge. They had appointed Mr. Chinnadoria, B.A.
as the headmaster and the teacher, Brother Gnanasegamoni, F.A
(who was the headmaster at Nazareth) was appointed as boarding
Master and teacher, and his wife as a teacher, Sister Lowry was
appointed as girls Matron and teacher, and Brother Lowry as Bible
teacher. In first year they had opened sixth, seven, eight and nine
standards with a target up to ten standards. During this time half
of the students at Coimbatore boarding school were baptized
Adventist, and others were expected to be converted soon as they
gradually learn about God (Lowry, 1915).
The boarding school at Coimbatore had been called as
Coimbatore Training School as it initially contemplated to train the
advanced students of the South India mission field to be colporteur
and home missionary. In the month of August 1915, the students at
Coimbatore Training School had reached to twenty five and more
rooms were needed to conduct the classes (James, 1915). Three
months later in October 1915, the first quarter of schooling was
finished when they had a weekly vacation. After the vacation the

student enrollment increased to twenty eight with three more boys


on the process of admission. Having training for a quarter most
students expressed anxiousness to be a home missionary and some
of them were given doctrinal tracts to start distributing around the
villages of Coimbatore. Some of the students had started to learn to
conduct gospel meetings in homes of neighbors. During the one
week vacation, Brother Lowry had visited six villages with these
students to preach the gospel. The students of this newly build
higher secondary training school had started to learn canvassing
and sold literature for Rs. 7 during the vacation ( Lowry, 1915). The
students had grown confident about their skills as Brother J.S.
James noticed when he had visited Coimbatore to conduct General
Meeting with the company of brother Willam and Knight. After the
meeting on Sunday June 14th 1916 they had conducted a baptism
when fourteen students took baptism and seven of them were
Malayalam people from Travancore. During this time a Tamil girl
from the Coimbatore Training School had married to a new worker
named Ponniah and this new couple was sent to Travencore to start
a new station at Nevyattinkari and Nagercoil towns to work among
the Malayalam people (James, 1916). The Three Angels Message
had started to spread all over South India through native workers
produced in Coimbatore Training School.
The progresses had continued years after year as the higher
secondary school at Coimbatore started to flourish to produce more
workers for the mission field of South India. In second year, in the
month of July 1916, the student enrolment reached from twenty
eight to forty three. The building they had been initially renting
became small for the amount of students, and they had started to
look for a permanent land where they can build up buildings for the

future functioning of the schools. In order to train the students,


they used to appoint the students as the Sabbath school leaders
and Sabbath school teachers to make them strong in their beliefs
(Lowry, 1916). On 23rd September 1916 the second baptism was
conducted at Coimbatore Training School when nine students had
been baptized from Hindu religion among who two were Tamil and
rest were Malayalam (Lowry, 1916). The third year schooling of
Coimbatore Training School had opened on June 1st 1917 with the
total number of sixty students. This year seven students had
graduated and five of them had already joined the mission work. In
order to make the students self supporting Brother G.G. Lowry had
introduced some manual training classes for boys and sewing
classes for girls (Lowry, 1917). The school started to become a selfsupporting institution through its training and accomplishment to
benefit the Adventist mission field of South India.
The Coimbatore Training School had started many training
activities that can help the students earn their own money to
develop themselves. In the month of June 1917, the school
committee had decided not to give bata (allowance) to students, but
they can get 100 percent profit of their book sells to make them selfsupporting, confident and experienced (Lowry, 1917). When the
school had started to be become self supporting with students
working in its garden, house, industries, selling books, visiting
neighs, etc; a student named Suvesashamuthu had died in
pneumonia on September 28th, 1917. He had been studying in
Adventist schools for five years since his childhood at Nazareth and
latter had been engaged in colporteur work (Lowry, 1917). During
this time the local committee had decided to vote to move the
Coimbatore Training School to Bangalore changing its name to

South India Training School. Brother G.G. Lowry had spent three
days at Bangalore looking for a suitable place (Lowry, 1917). And
then he initially moved to Coronation Hall, Frasier town of
Bangalore. But after a month he again moved to Three Wheeler
Road, Bangalore and finally established the school there. During
this time in the month of December, 1917 Brother M.E. Meelen, his
wife and the daughter with Brother Peden and his wife had come
from United Stated to join the labor in South India (Brisbin, 1918).
In South India Training School at Three Wheeler Street, Bangalore,
Brother G.G. Lowry took in charge of the work having Brother
Meelen as the boys Master in the department of boys and Sister
Lowry being girls Matron in the department of girls (Williams,
1918). The girls were actively involved with Womens Society
through which they were engaged in canvassing and many other
self supported missionary work. Only in few months by the month
of May 1918 the girls had sold books worth Rs. 40 beside other
missionary activities (Brisbin, 1918). The students and teachers
worked hand in hand to make South India Training School an
independent non-profitable institution.
The curriculum, instruction and programs needed to bed
devolved for the enhancement of the school with these advanced
students that are about to turn to work in the field. In the
beginning of the school year on June 1918, Brother M.E. Meelen
had become the principal of South India Training School. During
this time Brother Meelen had changed the name from South India
Training School to Boys Training School for a while as they had
been more focusing on developing the boys first. The transfer of the
training school from Coimbatore to the new location at Bangalore
had caused damages as the students dropped a bit, yet they

continued the school running. During this time the school


administration had strengthen the students to be self supported by
selling books, distributing tracts, giving Bible studies to neighbors
and many other works in the Bangalore city. All the students had
been gradually supporting their own food, clothing, stationary and
pocket money by themselves and they were not sad about it. During
this time they also had formed a Literary and Debating Society to
improve English speech for the public speaking in which Brother
H.A. Sam was the chairman and Brother P. Simon was the
secretary. In the Literary and Debating Society the native students
had been learning English languages and missionaries had been
learning native languages. They too had opened Y.P.M.V. Society
for carrying out the preaching and outreach work among neighborhood. In which the students used to preach, distribute tracts and
teach Sabbath school lessons visiting homes under the leadership
of Brother Aron. To be physically fit the school had opened
Badminton Society for physical exercise. And finally, in the school
year 1918, six students was organized for graduation
( Swaminathan, 1918).
The South India Training School which was also called Boys
Training School in 1919 had been running for four years since 1915
on rented quarters and the need of a permanent place rose in the
minds of Adventist mission workers in South India. In January,
1915 a permanent piece of land was purchased near the railway
station near the first madras line at Krishnarajapura, Bangalore.
The land was oblong shape with about 12 acres of lands with
beautiful grove of mango and other fruit trees. They had purchased
the land for the industrial purpose of gardening and producing
fruits and vegetables to sell in the market beside the conducting

rest other activities. They had planned to make a bungalow, school


building, and dormitory for boys and few homes for the teachers
(Lowry, 1919). They had then gradually started to build the
buildings at the permanent station at Krishnarajapura, Bangalore
and the Boys Training School remained at Three Wheeler Street,
Bangalore. During this time Brother M.E. Meelen had prepared
possible program and curricula for the school for effective trainings
to prepare them dedicated mission field workers for India. Brother
Meelen had asserted that there was no attempt made to confirm the
standards of the government schools which would interfere with the
purpose of the Adventist education. Brother E.M. Meleen had
rebuked that the boys who wish high-salary with the position of
secular work should not expect to study in the Boys Training
School, because the secular schools does not train students for the
second coming of Jesus. The instruction had been given in English
for the Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil people with the object of
training men for vernacular and colporteur work, language study,
preaching and producing volunteer missionaries for the cause of
God in the field of India ( Meelen, 1919).

Pictur
e by M.E. Meelen, February 1, 1922

After two years of buildings construction at the permanent


campus for the Boys Training School at Krishnarajapura,
Bangalore, in the beginning of 1922 the school begun to move from
Three Wheeler Street to the permanent station. In January 1922,
the stone made School Building was fully completed. The boys
dormitory, a small dispensary building and few other buildings for
the faculty was about to be completed. During the time of moving to
new location, Sister Meleen had been sick for about three months
and Brother H.L Paden and the wife had been expected to assist the
work at the new campus (Lowry, 1922). In the new school building
they had added some high standard college classes beside the
higher secondary studies. The Boys Training School was expected
to teach the advanced level and college level as many Adventist
students would need Adventist education in higher level as they
come from three middle schools of South India. The school at

Prakashapuram, Nazareth; the school at Neyyattinkara, Travancore;


and the newly build school at Nasapur, Kistna District had been
flourishing with the Adventist training for many native children for
higher education ( Meelen, 1922). After entering the new campust,
starting from the new year of 1922 the training school boys had
been busy working in the school garden, carpentry and printing
and the girls had been sewing, lace-making, embroidery and
household work. In the beginning of 1923 all the building
constructions at South India Training School was almost ready.
They had numbers of buildings in the campus. A stone made School
Building that has class room accommodations for seventy five boys,
in which they had a recreation room and an assembly hall; a stone
made Industrial Building with printing shop, carpenter shop, store
house for tools and a kitchen; three teachers cottage; and a stone
made bungalow for the principal. During this time they had started
the weaving industry in the school (Meleen, 1923). The school
started to function with the continuous training and started grow
boys and girls in the school
Brother O.A. Skau and the wife had joined the work of South
India as educational missionary and were made in charge of the
school campus as the Principal in the month of October, 1924.
Initially Brother O.A. Skau had strengthened girls schooling. The
principals stone made house building where Brother Meleen used
to live was used as girls dormitory ( Skau, 1924). As students had
been regularly working in the campus, the campus turned beautiful
with concrete path ways having trimmed hedges along the side with
beautiful garden with number of fruit trees. The school had a large
water well to supply water for the garden and housing , two stone
made bungalows, two stone made dormitories, school building,

industrial building , three teachers cottages and quarters for several


married students. The students had been engaged in regular
studies in 9 th, 10th, 11th, 12th standards with the enrolment of
thirty seven students among whom 33 were baptized Adventist
church members and most of whom had been looking to work as
gospel worker. Languages speaking people present in the campus
were Singhalese, Tamil, Malayalam, Kanarese, Telegu, Marathi,
Burmese, Santhalie, Bengali and Mauritius. Every working day,
fifteen to eighteen boys worked in the printing press. Some went to
distributing the tracts, canvassing, carpentry, gardening, cooking
and other industrial work. During this time the school had the best
library with two thousand three hundred selected books for the
advanced school and colleges. The school produced dedicated
workers for the mission field and expanded the Adventist church of
India (Meleen, 1930).
(To be continued)

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