Sunday, 19 December 2010
Building a Worldwide Network: IAPCHE 1975-2002
John B. Hulst
Dordt College Press, 2009
US$10, 64 pp, pbk
The International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education (IAPCHE) exists to promote Christian higher education worldwide. This slim booklet provides a brief overview and highlights of its fascinating and turbulent history.
John Hulst was involved with the organisation from its beginnings in 1975 until his retirement as its executive secretary in 2002 and so is well paced to write this inspiring book. The book has its origins as a series of articles in Contact, IAPCHE’s newsletter.
The twelve short chapters take us from proto-IAPCHE in 1973 when the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education (PUforCHE) initiated the idea of a conference in 1975 to examine ‘Reformed Higher Educational Institutions as a Bulwark for the Kingdom of God’. As a result of that conference the seeds for the development of IAPCHE were sown. However, during this time there was conflict between two major Christian Universities, the Free University and the PU for CHE over apartheid. This in part prevented the full development of an international organisation sooner. It wasn’t until 1981 that an organisation, then named the International Council for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education (ICICHE) was formalised. It was in 1992 that the present IAPCHE name was adopted.
Initially rather than an association of organisations it was an organisation of Christian scholars and educators ‘supported by institutions of Christian higher education’. This enabled IAPCHE to maintain ‘its reformational rootage’ and reach out to other s in the broader Christian academic network.
One thing that IAPCHE and its members have stood for is the idea that Christian higher education is about theology and theological schools. Christian education is about all the disciplines coming under the lordship of Christ and being directed by ‘a kingdom of God perspective’.
This is an inspiring read; it narrates the trails and tribulations, the joys and encouragements of establishing an organisation to promote distinctly Christian education. It shows what can be done in the Lord’s strength and with determined, committed and visionary labourers such as John Hulst, Peter Schrotenboer, John VanderStelt, Bennie van der Walt, and many others. Long may it continue!