Elim Bible Institute

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Elim Bible Institute
Genesee College Hall on the Elim Bible Institute campus
Type Bible college
Established 1924
President Michael Cavanaugh
Academic staff
8 (4 full-time, 4 part-time)[1]
Location Lima, New York, United States
Campus 75 acres (30 ha)
Website www.Elim.edu

Elim Bible Institute is a Bible college in Lima, New York, USA, offering a three-year program intended to prepare Christian leaders and workers for revival ministry. The school awards a two-year associate degree and one- and three-year non-degree certificates.


Elim was founded in 1924 in Endwell, New York, by Ivan and Minnie Spencer. The school is named for a biblical location named in Exodus 15:27, wherein Elim was an oasis in the wilderness.[2][3]

In the 1920s, the school moved to Rochester and Red Creek, and in 1932 to Hornell, where it was located until 1951, when the Spencers moved Elim to its current site in Lima.[4][5]

Beginning in 1948, Elim was a center for the Latter Rain Movement.[6][7]

Ivan Spencer headed Elim Bible Institute for many years. In 1949, he was succeeded in that position by his son, I. Carlton Spencer, who also led Elim Fellowship for many years.[8][9][10] Subsequently, H. David Edwards and Mike Webster each served as president of the institution. Paul Johansson, who was a student at Elim from 1956 to 1959, became the school's president in 1994. In 2006, Jeff Clark, who completed his own studies at Elim in 1978, succeeded Johansson as president.[8][11] In 2012, Michael Cavanaugh, founder of Elim Gospel Church and a 1976 graduate of Elim, succeeded Jeff Clark as President.[12]

Campus history[edit]

The Elim campus in Lima was originally the site of Genesee Wesleyan Seminary (opened in 1831), one of the first coeducational schools in the United States. Genesee College was founded on the same campus in 1849. The two institutions shared the campus until 1870 when Genesee College relocated to Syracuse, where it became the basis of Syracuse University. The seminary continued to occupy the campus until it closed in 1941.[13]

Shortly thereafter, the National Youth Administration (NYA), a New Deal project championed by Eleanor Roosevelt, briefly made the campus the location for one of the NYA's experimental resident work centers. The center provided vocational training to underprivileged students until its closure in the summer of 1942.[14]

The Methodist Church operated Genesee Junior College at the site from 1947 to 1951, when Elim Bible Institute bought the 75-acre (300,000 m2) campus and buildings for $75,000.[13] Two campus buildings, Genesee Wesleyan Seminary and Genesee College Hall, were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.[15]

Accreditation status[edit]

For most of its history, Elim Bible Institute was not accredited and did not award degrees, thus avoiding violations of laws and regulations that prohibit the awarding of degrees by unaccredited institutions. (Elim graduates received diplomas and certificates.) In November 2012, Elim received an educational charter and approval by the New York State Board of Regents to grant an associate degree.[16] The institution's leadership also publicly stated that the school was seeking institutional accreditation through the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS).

The institution's promotional materials state that its students are successful in transferring most of their credits to other Christian colleges and some public colleges and private universities, where they can complete four-year degrees.[17] As of October 2012, formal transfer agreements were in place with four other institutions, including two in New York state.[1]

Buffalo campus[edit]

Elim also offers courses at a satellite campus in Buffalo, New York.[18] Founded as Buffalo School of the Bible in 1977, the Buffalo campus serves commuter students.

Related religious organizations[edit]

Elim Fellowship was formed in 1933 as an informal fellowship of churches, ministers, and missionaries originating from a nucleus of people who had attended Elim Bible Institute. The Fellowship continues to support Pentecostal and Charismatic churches, ministers, and missions, providing credentials and counsel for ministers, encouraging fellowship among local churches, sponsoring leadership seminars, and also serving as a transdenominational agency sending missionaries and other personnel to other countries.[19][20]

Elim Gospel Church, an interdenominational Full Gospel church, was established near the Elim campus in 1988 and is attended by a significant number of the Institute's faculty and students.[21]

Notable alumni[edit]

Randall Terry (class of 1981) and Rob Schenck founded the anti-abortion activist group Operation Rescue after studying together at Elim in the early 1980s. Their activism was motivated by their exposure at Elim to the teachings of theologian Francis Schaeffer, whose then-recent book A Christian Manifesto encouraged evangelicals to engage in political activism to combat secular humanism.[22][23][24][25][26][27][28]

Anti-abortion activist and religious leader Paul Schenck, twin brother of Rob Schenck, also attended Elim.[27][29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Elim Bible Institute and College: Application for degree authority: Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Biblical and Theological Studies, University of the State of New York, October 29, 2012
  2. ^ Our History, Elim Bible Institute website, accessed May 24, 2010
  3. ^ "About", Elim Bible Institute website, accessed May 24, 2010
  4. ^ James Goche (May 1976). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Genesee Wesleyan Seminary and Genesee College Hall". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2010-05-24. 
  5. ^ Benjamin and Sarah Dodzweit, Corpus Christi Bible College website, accessed May 25, 2010
  6. ^ Peter Althouse (2003), Spirit of the last days: Pentecostal Eschatology in Conversation with Jürgen Moltmann, Volume 25 of Journal of Pentecostal Theology, Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-6685-0, ISBN 978-0-8264-6685-3
  7. ^ Richard M. Riss, Singing In the Spirit in the Holiness, Pentecostal, Latter Rain, and Charismatic Movements, paper delivered at Orlando '95, a conference sponsored by the North American Renewal Service Committee, July 28, 1995. Retrieved from Pentecostal-Charismatic Theological Inquiry International, May 24, 2010
  8. ^ a b Presidential Reflections: 80 Years of Ministry, Elim Bell Tower, Summer 2004
  9. ^ Pentecostal Denominations, Seeking4Truth.com website, accessed May 25, 2010
  10. ^ http://ifphcseeninprint.wordpress.com/category/theology/
  11. ^ Winds of Change: Generation to Generation, Elim Bell Tower, Summer 2006
  12. ^ http://www.elim.edu/meetpastormike/
  13. ^ a b Joyce Rapp, Historic Lima
  14. ^ Gordon Halstead (Project Director of NYA Resident Work Center, Lima, NY), Work—Study—Live: The Resident Youth Centers of the NYA, The New Deal Network website (accessed June 25, 2007)
  15. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  16. ^ Degree-Granting Status, Elim Bible Institute website, (accessed December 8, 2012)
  17. ^ Elim Bible Institute: Transfer Credits (accessed December 8, 2012)
  18. ^ Elim Buffalo Campus Programs
  19. ^ Elim Fellowship: About Elim
  20. ^ Wellsville Full Gospel Church website
  21. ^ Elim Gospel Church website
  22. ^ Max Blumenthal, God's Country; Lobbying for a theocracy, one member of Congress at a time, The Washington Monthly, October 2003.
  23. ^ Garry Wills, "Save The Babies", Time Magazine, May 1, 1989
  24. ^ Jeanie Kasendorf, Abortion in New York, New York Magazine, September 18, 1989. Page 38.
  25. ^ Randall Terry biography, Newsblaze (accompanying op-ed column by Terry, "Why Do Muslims React With Violence When Mohammed is Satirized?", published February 20, 2006)
  26. ^ Karen Tumulty and Lynn Smith, Operation Rescue: Soldier in a 'Holy War' on Abortion, Los Angeles Times, March 17, 1989
  27. ^ a b Eyal Press (2007), Absolute Convictions: My Father, a City, and the Conflict That Divided America, Macmillan, ISBN 0-312-42657-7, ISBN 978-0-312-42657-6. Pages 129–131.
  28. ^ Garry Wills (1990), Under God: Religion and American Politics, Simon and Schuster, ISBN 1-4165-4335-X, ISBN 978-1-4165-4335-0. Page 324.
  29. ^ Diocese Appoints New Directors, Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, accessed May 25, 2010

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°54′30.2″N 77°36′48.9″W / 42.908389°N 77.613583°W / 42.908389; -77.613583