By Jim Nieman
After suspending classroom instruction in August 2016, Crossroads College in Rochester, Minn., seemed to be an educational institution in name only, but work has been going on behind the scenes and two significant steps forward have occurred this summer.
The college sold its 37-acre campus to Bear Creek Christian Church at the end of June (click here to read that story), and on Sept. 8, Crossroads’ representatives signed a memorandum of understanding with Hope International University, Fullerton, Calif., to establish HIU–Minnesota.
The next goal, according to Curtis McGinnis, chief operating officer of Crossroads College, is to begin offering classroom (and online) instruction commencing this coming January.
McGinnis says Crossroads had been exploring a partnership with another institution for well over a decade . . . back almost to the time he has a student at Minnesota Bible College. (McGinnis graduated from MBC in 2001, and the institution changed its name to Crossroads in 2002.)
Crossroads’ debt had been an obstacle to any partnership. But the sale of its campus to Bear Creek for $3.95 million “gets the school out of all their secured debt” and removed a major hurdle to any agreement, McGinnis said.
And it is likely HIU–Minnesota will offer classes at its old campus, especially since McGinnis and Bear Creek lead pastor Aaron Wager are friends and both want to see that happen.
Plus, it just makes sense.
McGinnis said HIU–Minnesota will offer instruction at a deeply discounted per-credit-hour rate, and scholarship monies still held by Crossroads College will be made available to bring down the cost even more.
In addition to scholarship monies, Crossroads will be providing resources for hiring a regional director of the new institution.
The memorandum of understanding states: “The academic program will be structured to offer professional development courses, a 30-unit certificate, a 60-unit associate degree, a 120-unit bachelor degree, and graduate degrees, including a master of divinity.” McGinnis said that Hope International’s entire online catalog of classes will be available to HIU-Minnesota students.
History of the College
Crossroads College—and now HIU-Minnesota—traces its history back to 1913 when International Christian Bible College was founded in Minneapolis. It changed its name to Minneapolis Bible College in 1924, changed it again to Minnesota Bible University in 1932, and then to Minnesota Bible College in 1942.
The college purchased land in Rochester and established its campus there in 1971. (That is the site Bear Creek Christian Church acquired in June.) In 2002, Minnesota Bible College changed its name to Crossroads College, and in 2016 it ceased offering classes.
In 2014, Crossroads’ then-president Mike Kilgallin described the college’s financial predicament to Christian Standard. He said the college tried to add programs and increase enrollment in the early 2000s, but things didn’t work out. The “well-intended effort by good people” caused Crossroads to fall further into debt, and the indebtedness threatened accreditation.
In that interview, Kilgallin referenced Dean Grices’s book A History of Minnesota Bible College, calling it “an account of fighting for existence”; he added that the college “has struggled financially for most of its 100 years.”
“The cost of education has changed over the last 25 years, things like health insurance, technology, maintenance . . . ,” observed Bear Creek lead pastor Aaron Wager, who served on Crossroads’ board for a time. “I remember hearing stories about ‘the good old days’ when the faculty and staff would have to miss a paycheck because the college had a tight month. It would hurt, but they could survive. That could never happen today.”
A Uniting Force
Through its difficulties and the many sacrifices made by individuals associated with the school through the years, the college remained a uniting force among churches in the region it served, which McGinnis said includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, eastern South Dakota, and northern Iowa.
“The college is one of the things that held our Restoration Movement churches together,” McGinnis said. “Throughout its history, there has been a close relationship.” When the college closed, “it left a big gap.”
With the new arrangement, the goal is not only to offer quality Christian education options, McGinnis said, but also “to connect with and strengthen the churches in this region.”
Since 2016, donations to Crossroads College—a registered nonprofit—have dropped off, which is understandable under the circumstances.
“We’re hoping to reignite that base with this effort,” McGinnis said.
Jim Nieman serves as managing editor of Christian Standard.
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Readers who have memories of Crossroads College and Minnesota Bible College are welcome to share them in the “Comments” section below.
Also, here are some links to articles about the college—or that mention people associated with the college—that appear at our website:
“Interview with Mike Kilgallin,” by Paul Boatman, Feb. 3, 2014
Also, see an earlier “Interview with Mike Kilgallin,” by Brad Dupray, Sept. 24, 2008
“The Influence of Just One,” by Mike Kilgallin and Clay Perkins, Oct. 24, 2010
“The Local Church Needs Scholars,” by Fred Hanson, Nov. 9, 2008 (Dennis Martin, John Cachiaras, and Earl Grice are mentioned about halfway down)
“I Can Still Hear His ‘Hallelujah!’” by Ben Cachiaras, June 15, 2008
“Saying the Last Good-Bye to My Dad,” by Paul E. Boatman (son of Russell Boatman, who taught at Minnesota Bible College and St. Louis Christian College), April 2, 2006