A weekend of celebratory events marked the public inauguration of La Sierra’s H.M.S. Richards Divinity School. Th is renaming of the School of Religion concludes two years of strategic planning and signals a renewed focus for the school on graduate religious education for pastors, administrators, and church lay leaders.
The Divinity School’s formal inauguration came on October 11, when the university family gathered for a dedicatory worship service. Niels-Erik Andreasen, president of Andrews University, gave the address.
“May this school provide thoughtful advocacy for the Christian faith in this remarkable place, and may it remain faithful to the Seventh-day Adventist heritage that our teaching, our theology, our Christian practice, and our mission begin and end with the scripture,” Andreasen said.
H.M.S. Richards was founder and long-time speaker for the Voice of Prophecy radio ministry. His leadership in media evangelism ultimately inspired broadcasters in dozens of languages internationally. Along with his pioneering use of technology, Richards was an important thought leader in the Adventist Church, emphasizing the centrality of the Bible and of grace.
“We’re grateful to identify our work with one of the great formative preacher-scholars of Adventism,” says John Webster, Divinity School dean. “We intend to continue H.M.S. Richards’ emphasis on knowing and understanding the Bible, and proclaiming and trusting in God’s grace.”
“We look forward to the school becoming a center for the development of people who will proclaim in various ways the gospel based upon Scripture as the only rule of faith and practice,” said Kenneth Richards, one of H.M.S. Richards’ sons. “We think it will happen. God will bless.”
The weekend celebration continued with a First Service vespers program featuring Divinity School students and a special appearance by “Committed,” the winning group from the second season of the NBC program “Sing-Off.” The weekend concluded with a program featuring music written and arranged by long-time Voice of Prophecy musician Wayne Hooper, and audio clips of H.M.S. Richards from Voice of Prophecy broadcasts.
Moving forward, the Divinity School offers four graduate programs—Master of Divinity, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Religion, and a Graduate Certificate in Ministry for church lay leaders. The school has also formed an Undergraduate Department of Religion to serve students’ general education needs.