Briercrest College and Seminary

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Briercrest College and Seminary is a private evangelical post-secondary educational institution located in Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada. It comprises a college and a seminary, and operates the Briercrest Christian Academy.


Its precursor was a home Bible study in the village of Briercrest, Saskatchewan, which grew to include several members of the community. Eventually the group formed a new church, the Briercrest Gospel Assembly. The people needed a pastor to lead the church and wanted to open a Bible school.Henry Hildebrand was a student at Winnipeg Bible Institute and a circuit riding preacher with Canadian Sunday School Mission (CSSM). Sinclair Whittaker, one of the believers at Briercrest, was a businessman and a former Conservative member of the provincial legislature. He contacted Henry, informing him of their need for a pastor and their desire to open a Bible school. Eventually Hildebrand agreed to join them at Briercrest.Briercrest Bible Institute opened its doors on October 19, 1935, with 11 students enrolled. A rented house served as dormitory, classroom, and office for the school. Hildebrand was principal and Annie Hillson, Isabel Whittaker, Jean Whittaker, and Margaret Rusk helped with teaching and administration. Donald McMillan joined them in the second term as assistant principal.By 1946, they had outgrown their facility, and Whittaker arranged the purchase of RCAF Station Caron (a former British Commonwealth Air Training Plan facility which trained aircrew in World War II) for $50,000. The new facility was dedicated on July 1, 1946, and the task of converting the airbase into dormitories, classrooms, offices, and staff housing began.Briercrest Christian Academy, formerly Caronport High School opened in September 1946. A grade school also began that year. Enrolment grew in all of the schools and many new buildings were constructed to accommodate the growing student body. In the early 1970s, the schools began to recognize the need for academic credibility. Briercrest became a candidate for accreditation with the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges (now the Association for Biblical Higher Education) in 1973, and became accredited in 1976. The school was given authority to grant degrees in 1974. In 1979, a distance learning program was launched. In 1982, the name Briercrest Bible Institute was changed to Briercrest Bible College. The seminary began in 1983, and receive accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools in 1998. College enrolment grew from 285 in 1970 to 775 in 1985 and peaked in 2002 with 869 students in the College and 247 in the Seminary More recently, enrolment has been in decline. As of 2019, enrolment at Briercrest Christian Academy (formerly Caronport High School) is at 141 students, Briercrest College has 489 students, and Briercrest Seminary with 286 students.The decline in student enrolment has also caused financial instability with a budget deficit of $2.17 million in 2019, $2.26 million in 2018 and $1.18 million in 2017.


Briercrest College and Seminary offers one-year certificates, Associate of Arts degrees, Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Master of Divinity degrees. Each program includes courses in Bible and theology, Christian ministry, liberal arts, and the social sciences along with many electives. The college has been accredited by The Association for Biblical Higher Education since 1976. The Government of Saskatchewan authorizes Briercrest to grant degrees in "Bachelor of Arts in English/English (Honours)", "Bachelor of Arts in History/History (Honours)", Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and "Bachelor of Arts in Humanities". A number of other programs are currently grandfathered in and will have until 2020 to meet quality assurance criteria under the province's 2012 Degree Authorization Act. The seminary is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. The seminary employs a modular format (typically one course in one week) for most of its courses. Briercrest also offers distance learning courses at both the college and seminary levels.The college is associated with the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST) and has transfer agreements with the universities of Regina and Saskatchewan.In early 2011 Briercrest and Minot State University announced a partnership allowing students to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from both schools in five years. The program requires students to complete their Bachelor of Arts degree during the first three years at Briercrest college and the final two at Minot State earning the Education degree. Minot State offers five different concentrations for its B.S.E. As such a students completing this program may select earning a Bachelor of Science in: Elementary Education English History Music Physical EducationBriercrest also offers other concurrent degrees with Minot State University such as: Addiction Studies Communication Disorders Social Work

Student life

The majority of Briercrest College students live in residence and participate in a school meal plan in a dining hall operated by Sodexo.The college dormitories have a history of being named after people who have had significant impact throughout the history of the schools. Current dormitories at Briercrest include: Isabel Whittaker (women), known as "Whit" Sinclair Whittaker (men), known as "Whit" Hillson Hall (men, high school) Glen Manor (women, high school) Bergren Place (women) Eliason Manor (men) built in 2005 Sundbo Place (married students, women, and men over 21 years of age)The last of the war-building dormitories, known most recently as Gable Heights, was demolished in summer 2005. The college explicitly bans the consumption of alcohol and tobacco by its students (both on and off campus) as well as using profanity, watching pornography, or cross-dressing. Social dancing is also not permitted except at college-sponsored events. The college also prohibits students from engaging in premarital sex or engaging in homosexuality. The school mandates attendance at daily chapel services and other events.


The campus landmark is the 2,000-seat Hildebrand Chapel. Facilities also include a 25,000-square-foot (2,300 m2) library, nine student dormitories, a 42-room inn, a modern dining hall, a double-court gymnasium, a hockey arena, tennis courts, numerous sports fields, a recording studio, a Subway franchise, and two coffee shops.


Briercrest College and Seminary's athletic teams are known as the Clippers. Varsity sports include men's and women's basketball and volleyball, and men's hockey. They compete in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference, part of the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association. They also have Junior Varsity teams for men's and women's basketball, volleyball, and outdoor soccer that compete in the Prairie Athletic Conference. Briercrest also has a club women's softball team that plays in the Western Collegiate Softball Association. Court sports play in the Margaret P. Reimer Memorial Gymnasium and the hockey team plays in Barkman Arena, named in honour of past president and current chancellor John Barkman. The 500-seat NHL-sized rink officially opened on February 7, 2009.Briercrest teams have medaled in CCAA national championships four times, winning its only gold at the 1977 Men's Basketball Championship, silver at the 1991 Men's Basketball Championship, bronze at the 2012 Men's Volleyball Championship and silver at the 2014 Men's Volleyball Championship. The school has produced one CCAA National Player of the Year (Gradyn Childerhose, men's Basketball, 2012), three CCAA Coach of the Year recipients, (Carl Hinderager, men's Basketball, 1983; Stan Peters, men's Basketball, 1993; and Nigel Mullan, men's volleyball, 2012) and numerous CCAA All-Canadians.Briercrest hosted the 1993 CCAA Women's Basketball Championships on campus and the 2014 CCAA Men's Volleyball Championships at the Yara Centre in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. CCAA National Championships Men's Basketball (1) (1977)ACAC Championships Men's Volleyball (1) (2011) Women's Volleyball (2) (2016, 2020)PAC Provincial Championships Men's Basketball (19) (1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995) Women's Basketball (7) (1981, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995) Men's Volleyball (12) (1970, 1976, 1977, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2018) Women's Volleyball (8) (1982, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2017) Men's Ice Hockey (2) (1971, 1980) Men's Indoor Soccer/Futsal (1) (2010) Women's Indoor Soccer/Futsal (3) (2000, 2005, 2006) Men's Outdoor Soccer (4) (2006, 2009, 2017, 2018) Women's Outdoor Soccer (5) (2006, 2009, 2017, 2018, 2019)


Throughout its history, Briercrest has had six presidents: Henry Hildebrand (1935–1977); Henry Budd (1977–1990); John Barkman (1990–1996); Paul Magnus (1996–2004); Dwayne Uglem (2004–2013); and Michael Pawelke (2013–present) — Sinclair Whittaker served as president of the board until 1950.

Histories of the College

Budd, Henry. Wind in the Wheatfields: A Pictoral History of Briercrest Bible College, 1935-1985. Caronport, SK: Briercrest Bible College, 1985. Hildebrand, Henry. In His Loving Service. Caronport, SK: Briercrest Bible College, 1985. Palmer, Bernard and Marjorie Palmer. Beacon on the Prairies: The Men God Uses in the Building of Briercrest Bible Institute. Caronport, SK: Briercrest Bible Institute, 1970. Palmer, Bernard. Miracle on the Prairies: The Story of Briercrest Bible Institute. Caronport, SK: Briercrest Bible Institute, [1960?].
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