What Can We Learn From WCS's History?
By Dr. Roger Erdvig, WCS Headmaster
2021 marks the 75th anniversary of WCS. Founded in 1946 by a group of six area church leaders and theologians, WCS was part of a plan to address "the great need in our area for a Christian education that would touch every area of life." Our founders had a firm conviction that it was impossible for a secular school experience to provide such an education.
The first president of the first school board at WCS was Dr. R. Laird Harris. Dr. Harris was no lightweight educational dreamer or cultural naysayer. He was a well-respected theologian, prolific author, and the chairman of the committee that translated the New International Version Bible, one of the most popular translations of Scripture for decades. Many of my generation grew up with the NIV as our Bible of choice.
Interestingly, Dr. Harris was also one of the teachers at Faith Theological Seminary, a famous conservative seminary that flourished here in Wilmington from 1937 to 1952. This same seminary granted a degree to one of the foremost proponents of approaching all of life from a Biblical worldview perspective. It is very likely that Dr. Harris had the future towering figure of evangelicalism, Francis Schaeffer in his classes. Imagine that—the same man who worked to found WCS was a mentor and teacher to Francis Schaeffer.
History is fascinating, but my efforts in sharing these facts are not an exercise in curiosity. My purpose is to remind us of the heart desire of the founders of WCS.
WCS was birthed of the same drive that compelled Dr. Harris to write and teach to promote a view of the world that was immersed in Biblical truth. His passion to raise up a generation of theologically literature servants for the church and world also had expression in his commitment to birth and nurture a K-12 Christian school here in Wilmington.
In some ways, the work of Francis Schaeffer, including his incisive books on Biblical worldview and the worldview training ministry he founded (L’Abri) were fruits of Dr. Harris’ work. WCS and our many alumni are as well. And, with our focus on immersing our students in a Biblical worldview in 2021, I think we can confidently say that we are pursuing the kind of school that Dr. Harris had in mind back in 1946.
In 1986, WCS’s 40th anniversary year, Dr. Harris wrote these words as he reminisced about the WCS of the 1950s:
“The school by this time had a strong foundation. Its facilities were not extraordinary, but its teachers were.
The curriculum fulfilled its purpose of giving strong Bible knowledge, a Christian worldview*,
solid instruction in Christian morality and conduct,
all reinforced with loving but firm discipline.
Finally, essential to the WCS mission was the school’s rigorous academic curriculum
that encourages each student to work to his potential,
with the excellence of God being the standard of measurement.”
Today, WCS has a refreshed mission statement that is summarized in our brief motto – “Cultivating Godly influencers.” As we reflect on our past and look forward to our future in our 75th year, I believe that we can do no better than to continue to pursue the ideal of what Dr. Harris said of WCS in the 1950s. His words are an enduring reminder of why God established our school and of what He desires for us in the future.
*Note that Dr. Harris was way ahead of his time by using the term Christian worldview. In the mid-1980s that term was still not widely familiar in the church in the United States. It would be for another decade or more before the concept became common in the American evangelical church.
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Cultivating godly influencers
Wilmington Christian School provides a distinctively Christian, innovative education that effectively develops Godly influencers who are well prepared for life after high school and who impact the culture for Christ.