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Our Heritage

In 1938 a young missionary in Belgian Congo became burdened by the need for a school in North America where young people could gather for intensive study of the Bible in a context where the principles of New Testament Christianity could be taught without compromise. Shortly thereafter, R.E. Harlow left his Congo mission station and returned to Toronto. In collaboration with two friends, John Smart and C. Ernest Tatham, he undertook the work of organizing Emmaus Bible School. The growth of the school’s ministry is indicative of the divine blessing it has enjoyed. 

The school’s name appears just once in the Bible in Luke 24:13. Although Emmaus was a very small village, the events that occurred near there make its name one to be remembered. Three days after the death of the Lord Jesus, two of His disciples were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They were depressed that their Master had been killed because they were hoping it was He who was going to redeem Israel. The Lord joined them in their walk, and though they didn’t recognize Him, He talked to them about His resurrection, and showed them in all the Scripture “the things concerning Himself.” These disciples, later reporting the incident to other disciples, recounted with joy, 

Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us? (Luke 24:32)

This incident explains the use of the name Emmaus. It expresses the purpose of the college: a place where young men and women come to have the Scriptures opened to them, where they learn “the things concerning Himself.”

1941
Evening school classes commence in Central Hall, Toronto, Canada, under the leadership of the school founders, R.E. Harlow, John Smart, and C. Earnest Tatham.

1942
The correspondence school is established to meet a need for systematic Bible study materials for men and women serving in the military during World War II.

1945
Resident school classes begin in Central Hall, Toronto.

1946
Increased enrollment necessitates the purchase of a building at 81 Harcourt Avenue, Toronto.

1947
Growing enrollments lead to the establishment of a campus on Normal Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. The school offers a one-year Biblical Studies program.

1949
The Chicago, Normal Avenue campus begins to offer an upper level, senior division of studies.

1953
To accommodate continuing growth, the school acquires a former YMCA building at 156 N. Oak Park Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois. Co-founder R. E. Harlow is named Principal of Emmaus Bible School.

1954
The Toronto and Chicago campuses merge. All classes are now offered at the Oak Park campus.

1956
Emmaus Bible School becomes a member of the Evangelical Training Association (ETA).

1959
William McDonald becomes the second President of Emmaus Bible School.

1960
The school purchases a 20-unit apartment building in close proximity to the Oak Park campus to house additional resident students.

1965
John Smart, one of the three founders, assumes the presidency of Emmaus.

1966
Property adjacent to the Oak Park Avenue building is purchased for future expansion. The school adds a missions program to the curriculum.

1967
The Groveland Apartment building provides housing for male resident students.

1968
Construction of a new faculty wing is completed.

1972
Emmaus Bible School hosts its first Missionary Emphasis Week focused on overseas missions.

1974
Renovation of the Oak Park building results in the addition of an 1800-square-foot student center.

1976
Daniel H. Smith is inaugurated as the fourth President of Emmaus Bible School.

1979
Emmaus Bible School hosts its first Home Worker’s Week focused on ministries in North America.

1983
The school hosts its first Christian Ministries Seminar combining the Missionary Emphasis Week and Home Worker’s Week into a program highlighting avenues for service both at home and abroad. The board approves the purchase of the former Aquinas Institute of Theology campus in Dubuque, Iowa.

1984
Emmaus Bible School becomes Emmaus Bible College and relocates to its new 17-acre campus in Dubuque, Iowa

1985
Emmaus offers college-level evening courses in the Dubuque area.

1986
Emmaus receives accreditation from the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges (AABC) and begins to grant bachelor degrees. The Trust Services department is established to assist the Lord’s people with their estate planning and financial stewardship needs.

1989
The College purchases adjacent land for a future athletic field.

1991
Emmaus celebrates its 50th anniversary. Work on the new athletic field is completed.

1992
The college establishes the Emmaus Archives to preserve the unique history of Emmaus Bible College.

1993
Emmaus joins the National Christian College Athletic Association and officially begins competing in men’s and women’s basketball at the collegiate level.

1994
Construction of the Pollard Field House is completed. Emmaus is approved by the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges to offer a degree in Elementary Teacher Education.

1996
Emmaus marks 50 years of commencement exercises and awards degrees to the first graduates from the Elementary Education program.

1997
The State of Iowa Department of Education approves the Elementary Education program for teacher licensure. The Robbie Pile Dining Hall is dedicated.

1998
Three new double majors are added to the academic offerings: Biblical Studies/Intercultural Studies, Biblical
Studies/Youth Ministries, and Biblical Studies/Computer Systems Management.

1999
The Emmaus Ministry Resources project is instituted in partnership with Stewards Ministries.

2000
Kenneth A. Daughters is inaugurated as the fifth President of Emmaus Bible College. Dr. Daniel Smith is appointed the first Chancellor. Daniel H. Smith Hall opens in October to house maintenance shops, business offices, the computer classroom and lab, and three dormitory floors.

2001
The first issue of Journey magazine is published in the spring, followed by the first Iron Sharpens Iron conference in May. Emmaus Trust Services becomes Believers Stewardship Services.

2001
Emmaus celebrates its 60th anniversary.

2002
Emmaus Correspondence School becomes ECS Ministries.

2003
The college community engages in a comprehensive institutional self-evaluation in preparation for an accreditation team visit from the Higher Learning Commission.

2004
Emmaus Bible College achieves candidate status with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

2005
A new double major in Biblical Studies/Music Ministry is added to the academic offerings. Work is completed on a new Science Lab.

2006
Emmaus Bible College is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and becomes a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The college also receives reaffirmation of accreditation from the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) and reaffirmation of State of Iowa approval of the Elementary Education program for teacher licensure.

2007
Two new programs in Biblical Studies/Nursing and Biblical Studies/Business Administration are offered in cooperation with Northeast Iowa Community College.

2008
Emmaus Bible College is recognized for “the extraordinary and exemplary community service contributions of its students, faculty, and staff in meeting community and national needs” by The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

2009
Two new double majors are added to the academic offerings: Biblical Studies/Business Administration and Biblical Studies/Counseling Psychology. Men’s soccer and women’s volleyball are added as intercollegiate sports. The David A. Glock auditorium is dedicated. The college celebrates 25 years in Dubuque, Iowa.

2011
The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools reaffirms regional accreditation for Emmaus Bible College until 2020-2021.

2012
The State of Iowa reaffirms approval of the Elementary Education program for teacher licensure and approves Secondary Education programs in business, psychology, and world history. A Camp Ministries major, offered in cooperation with Camp Forest Springs (WI), and an Associate of Arts degree in General Studies are added to the academic program offerings.

2013
Mr. Philip Boom is inaugurated as the sixth president of Emmaus Bible College.

2014
Several new programs are added to the academic offerings: an Associate of Arts in Secondary Education, a Secondary Education Math endorsement, and minors in Archaeology and Spanish Language.

2015
Emmaus Bible College begins offering online courses through Emmaus Distance Learning (EDL).