Capernwray Harbour Bible School

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Capernwray Harbour Bible School
MottoTraining of men and women to be equipped for full-time Christian service, regardless of their occupation.
AffiliationChristian evangelical
PresidentCharles Fordham
Location, ,
CampusRural, 97 acres

Capernwray Harbour Bible School is an evangelical Christian post-secondary institution located on Thetis Island, British Columbia, Canada.

The school was established by a Capernwray Hall alumnus, Charles Fordham, in 1979. The school offers a unique mix of indoor and outdoor classes, hosting about 140 students each year from up to 20 countries. Over the summer recess period, over 4,000 participants are usually hosted for predominantly Christian-oriented holiday courses.

The primary purpose and ministry of Capernwray is Christian education. Its goal is to offer students training in Bible study, evangelical outreach, leadership development, community living, and personal discovery through discipleship. According to school founder Charles Fordham, the mission of Capernwray is the "training of men and women to be equipped for full-time Christian service, regardless of their occupation,"[1] following the ideas expounded by Major W. Ian Thomas.[2]


Aerial Photograph of the Main Hall at Capernwray Harbour Bible School
Aerial photograph of the Main Hall at Capernwray Harbour Bible School

The site of Capernwray Harbour Bible School was first settled by Henry Severn in 1886. Despite the school being named for a Capernwray Harbour, it is in fact located on the shores of Preedy Harbour. Severn built a log cabin on the property; the subsequent owner, H. Burchell, added Preedy Hall, one of the largest buildings on the Gulf Islands at the time, and home to a store, a chapel, and a ballroom.[3] In 1924 the property was sold to Hans Hunter, who built the Main Hall in 1926 after a devastating fire. In 1979, Charles and Marlene Fordham formed a Board of Directors to begin operations for a Bible School on the site, signed a lease to purchase, and opened the school with an inaugural class of 77 students.[4] Current School buildings and facilities include a gymnasium, lecture hall, outdoor amphitheatre, climbing tower, several kilometres of trails, and accommodations for 150.[5]

Mission statement[edit]

Statement of Faith[edit]

The Capernwray Statement of Faith asserts that God created man in such a way that the presence of God as Creator within a man as creature is imperative to his humanity, and that we as men can do nothing without him. Furthermore, according to the "Regenerative Purpose of God", Christ "rose again from the dead to live his life in us."[8]

The Statement of Faith also declares that once one has truly assumed the Christian life, "Christ can then do the work in us as the Father then did the work in Him, and we let all God loose in the world; not, then just the sky, but God Himself is the limit!"[8]

Utltimately, according to the Statement of Faith, "Jesus Christ established the fact that our spiritual union with him, as he was in spiritual union with the Father, is the true and ultimate basis of all evangelism, missions and Church planting."[8]


One of the principal ideas forwarded by Major Thomas, "simplicity in Christ",[9] is emphasized in the curriculum at Capernwray.[10] Students are encouraged engage in discipleship to enable personal discovery, eschewing academic merit in Bible study. As Thomas wrote, "If there is any situation from which you are not prepared to step back, in recognition of the total adequacy of Christ who is in you, then you are out of the will of God."[9]


The Capernwray Bible School curriculum covers about seventy-five percent of all of the Biblical books. Essential to the Capernwray approach are the creation of journals, (ungraded summaries of lecture principles), and study projects, presentations which ensure a thorough study of the Bible and the ability to impart teachings to others.[11][12]

Venture Program[edit]

A variety of camping and recreational programs are offered to students in the initial autumn weekends of Bible School. These Venture Program activities are designed to enhance fellowship and establish and deepen relationships between the new students. The programs are conducted at a variety of regional recreational areas and ecological preserves, such as Carmanah Walbran Park,[13] and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.[14]

Conferences and Temple Tours[edit]

Capernwray students engage in the yearly MissionsFest conference[15] in Vancouver by filling conference administrative needs and by interacting with presenters from around the world to get a greater understanding of evangelical principles and issues.[16] Additionally, students tour Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh temples, and Muslim mosques to better acquaint themselves with these religions for future activities.[17]


Outreach programs for students involve visits to several elementary schools, First Nations reserves, youth drop-in centres, seniors facilities, and those with needs beyond themselves. Additionally, students lead monthly church services in a medium security prison[18] in nearby Nanaimo. Spring break outreach programs have included ministries to Seattle USA, Mexico, Japan, India, Philippines, Israel, and Italy.[19]

Student life[edit]

Capernwray hosts a variety of intramural sports, including soccer, basketball, floor hockey, and volleyball. Students have opportunities to participate in other outdoor adventures such as climbing wall activities, ropes course challenges, biking and mountain hiking. Students are also encouraged to organize individual team games in their free time.[20]

Other Capernwray programs[edit]

Conferences and Holiday Bible Weeks[edit]

Capernwray hosts several conferences throughout the year, including the Men's Conference, Ladies' Conference, and the Summer Breakaway for Youth. Retreats are offered for families, church groups, seniors groups, and for those wishing personal retreats.

The Holiday Bible Weeks are attended by families and individuals who are intent on sharing a Christian vacation experience.[21] Christ-centred devotionals and talks from lecturers of international stature round out a program that includes several outdoor activity options each day.[22] According to Program Director Charles Fordham, these sessions "combine wholesome summer vacation activities with Bible teaching devoted to deeper spiritual learning and practice."[23]

The Holiday Bible Weeks outdoor recreational activities include ocean kayaking, waterskiing, Gulf Islands boat tours, trail hiking, trout fishing, and beachcombing. Team events such as ropes course challenges and beach volleyball are available to participants of all ages, from preschool to adult. Capernwray hosts a varied selection of facilities to support these activities.[24] These include a fully equipped gymnasium, five kilometres of beach and forest trails, 32 stations on two challenge courses, and a 14-metre climbing wall/rappelling tower.

The devotional services are conducted in several meeting areas, which include the gymnasium, the lecture hall, and an outdoor amphitheatre.

Outdoor education[edit]

The Capernwray outdoor education program takes advantage of many of the same facilities, but is geared toward youth aged 10 to 18. The outdoor education process focusses on problem solving, communication skills, leadership, community, and teambuilding.[25] In a typical group, participants are given an orientation session, then guided in various challenging and novel activities by several experienced outdoor education instructors, who have each spent on an average over five years teaching the program. Typical of such programs, the instructor establishes clear limits, expectations, and guidelines for the experience.[26][27]

The Capernwray outdoor education experience deliberately confronts learners with unfamiliar scenarios and settings. According to Chris Fordham, the Conference/Outdoor Education Coordinator and a 12-year veteran of the facility, "Individuals are encouraged to step out of their 'comfort zone' in a safe environment to engage in experiences that will change their perspective in real life contexts."[28][29] In addition to its youth offerings, the centre provides professional development programs geared toward corporate teams desiring to gain an edge by discovering the deeper values of teamwork, problem solving and true leadership.

Individually, and as teams, participants gain a level of 'competent mastery' which is believed to enhance self-confidence and self-esteem. A notable aspect of the Capernwray outdoor education program is its flexibility, allowing for customization of schedules according to specific needs and goals of schools or groups. Examples of this are programs designed for those with learning disabilities or physical disabilities, and special needs students.


Founder, Bible School and Canadian Director

Charles Fordham

Director of Operations/Conference Coordinator

Chris Fordham

Personnel Manager

Elizabeth Joslin

Business/Accounting Manager

Kevin Galbraith


  1. ^ Fordham, Charles "Capernwray Mission Statement", retrieved March 31, 2019
  2. ^ The Mystery of Godliness. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. ©1974
  3. ^ Oke, Kevin "History of Thetis Island", "Gulf Island Guides", retrieved April 17, 2008
  4. ^ Fordham, Charles "Capernwray Centre Beginnings", retrieved July 31, 2009
  5. ^ Joslin, Elizabeth "Capernwray Facilities", retrieved April 17, 2008
  6. ^ Capernwray Bible Centre Overview "Vision", retrieved July 31, 2009
  7. ^ Fordham, Charles "Our Mission", retrieved July 31, 2009
  8. ^ a b c Fordham, Charles "Capernwray Statement of Faith", retrieved March 31, 2019
  9. ^ a b The Saving Life of Christ. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. ©1961
  10. ^ Fordham, Charles "Capernwray Bible School Curriculum", retrieved September 29, 2008
  11. ^ Canadian Christianity "Capernwray Bible Centre" Archived 2009-05-08 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved August 2, 2009
  12. ^ Jensen, Lawrence "Bible School Course Descriptions", retrieved July 31, 2009
  13. ^ BC Parks: Carmanah Walbran Park "Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park", retrieved August 26, 2009
  14. ^ Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada "Pacific Rim National Park" Archived 2009-08-05 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved August 26, 2009
  15. ^ MissionsFest "MissionsFest Vancouver", retrieved August 26, 2009
  16. ^ MissionsFest Vancouver "Missions Fest Volunteers", retrieved March 31, 2019
  17. ^ Joslin, Elizabeth "Field Trips", retrieved August 1, 2009
  18. ^ Nanaimo Correctional Centre "BC Corrections Branch, Nanaimo Correctional Centre", retrieved March 31, 2019
  19. ^ Joslin, Elizabeth "Outreach", retrieved August 1, 2009
  20. ^ Jensen, Lawrence "Capernwray Extracurricular Activities", retrieved May 1, 2008
  21. ^ ChristiaNet Inc. "Christian Vacation" Archived 2008-10-25 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved October 17, 2008
  22. ^ Canada helps "Holiday Bible Weeks", retrieved August 2, 2009
  23. ^ Fordham, Charles "Capernwray Holiday Bible Weeks Overview", retrieved October 17, 2008
  24. ^ Fordham, Chris "Capernwray Facilities", retrieved October 17, 2008
  25. ^ Fordham, Chris "Capernwray Outdoor Education Programmes", retrieved October 17, 2008
  26. ^ Outdoor Education: Methods and Strategies. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. ©2006
  27. ^ Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Center "Group Activities, Games, and Initiatives", retrieved August 26, 2009
  28. ^ Fordham, Chris "Capernwray Outdoor Education Overview", retrieved October 17, 2008
  29. ^ Eric Digests: Outdoor Education: Definition and Philosophy "Definition of Outdoor Education", retrieved August 26, 2009