A Changing Role
for the Church
Albright has always had ties to the church.
In 1856, Union Seminary, the parent
institution of Albright College, was established by the Evangelical
the religious organization founded on the teachings of Jacob Albright,
for the formal education of its members.
to note that while Union Seminary1 was closely
connected to the Evangelical Association, it was not a theological
school as such. Rather, it was similar to
the liberal arts junior college of today. Even
so, Albright College was originally authorized by the state to
confer the bachelor of
In fact, Teel Hall was built and dedicated as the
Evangelical School of Theology, which some Albright students referred
to as “The Angel
Factory.” While legally part of Albright College, the
School of Theology had its own president, dean and teaching
staff, as well as a theological library.
Along with other students, “virtually all pre-theological students
of the Evangelical Church came to Albright, and were subsidized by their
home conferences for doing so,” said the Rev. William Marlow ’49,
professor emeritus of religion.
By 1968, the Evangelical Association had evolved
into the United Methodist Church. While Albright still considers itself
a church-related college, the specifics of the relationship changed. “Special aid for
students ended, as did direct financial aid to the College from the
general church,” said Marlow, who served as Albright’s
chaplain from 1959 until 1968, when he joined the
faculty of the Department of Religious Studies.
Albright’s compulsory worship requirement,
common among such institutions of the day, was enforced for more than
a century. But just as American colleges have evolved, so has the role
of religion on campus. And many of the changes in the church coincided
with a number of significant changes in American society as a whole.
“There was a strong desire for many people to experience
the majestic mystery, the supernatural, the sacred, everything
spirit based – but not in church.”
– The Rev. Bill Marlow ’49
and ’60s – Time of Great Change
Across the nation, the 1950s saw a higher
percentage of church membership and participation than in any other
decade in American history. This trend was true at Albright as well.
“It was ‘the age of faith,’ ‘the
revival of religion,’ and a time of reconstructing old and constructing new
institutions,” Marlow said. “The Albright campus reflected
this post-World War II renewal in lots of ways. Weekend religious
retreats, held in the fall and
spring, drew more than 100 students each. Ecumenical Protestant worship
services were held every Sunday morning, and evening
worship services were held before religious holidays, with a large
percentage of students and faculty attending.”