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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.”

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.

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.

Resident school classes begin in Central Hall, Toronto.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

William McDonald becomes the second President of Emmaus Bible School.

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

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

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

The Groveland Apartment building provides housing for male resident students.

Construction of a new faculty wing is completed.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

The College purchases adjacent land for a future athletic field.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

Emmaus celebrates its 60th anniversary.

Emmaus Correspondence School becomes ECS Ministries.

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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