NAPCE History

Historical Perspectives

NAPCE has a long history that can be traced back to its roots in 1929. The following history was extracted from an extensive paper written by Dr. Eileen Starr chronicling the historical development of the NAPCE association.

An Historical Perspective of the North American Professors of Christian Education

The historical roots of the North American Professors of Christian Education (NAPCE) can be traced to the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the need to promote an evangelical faith. The New England Fellowship, formed in 1929 to promote cooperation among evangelicals, gave birth to the idea of a national association of evangelicals. The influence of the liberal Federal Council necessitated another organization to unify evangelicals. The leaders who formed NAE in 1942 desired to unite all evangelical believers.

From its inception, NAE was concerned about:

1. Evangelism
2. Evangelicals' relation to government
3. National and local use of radio
4. Public relations
5. The preservation of separation of church and state
6. Christian education
7. The guarantee of freedom for home and foreign missionary endeavor.

The National Association of Evangelicals formed various commissions and affiliated organizations to address the concerns of the Association. Among the commissions formed was the Church School Commission.

Many evangelical Christian educators were concerned about the growing influence of liberalism on the Sunday schools. In 1944, several Christian educators met with the Church School Commission of the NAE. The result of the meeting was the formation in 1945 of the National Sunday School Association (NSSA). NSSA began holding national conventions in 1946. The conventions of NSSA revitalized Sunday schools in many evangelical churches for a time. In the 1950s and 60s, the work of NSSA was reflected in several commissions. "Among these were the Research Commission, the Camp Commission, the Youth Commission, the Denominational Sunday School Secretaries, the Area Chairman Commission and the affiliated body, The National Directors of Christian Education."

After a discussion of the needs in Christian education, the leadership of NSSA formed the Research Commission. The members were to be evangelical teachers, professors, and writers in the field of Christian education. The Commission met yearly in conjunction with the National NSSA Convention. Although Commission members represented Christian higher education institutions, much of their work was directed toward improving Christian education in local churches.

Who should be a part of the Research Commission was an issue for several years. From the beginning, only those persons teaching Christian education in institutions of higher learning could be active members. In 1963, the membership qualifications were expanded to include persons who teach related subjects and persons who formerly taught Christian Education subjects and who are interested in higher education. Initially, the Research Commission worked closely with the NSSA. However, as the group grew they began to concentrate more on the needs of higher education.

The 1968 president of the Research Commission, Dr. Paul E. Loth, reported to the NSSA that Commission members were not satisfied with meeting at the NSSA conventions. In 1969, NSSA, desiring to improve communication with its commissions and began holding annual leadership seminars. The Research Commission held their annual meetings in conjunction with the NSSA seminars.

The growing concerns of the Research Commission members were expressed in their desire for a name change in 1970. The recommendation was approved unanimously by the Commission members and was also approved by the board of NSSA. The new name being the National Association of Professors of Christian Education (NAPCE).

NAPCE developed a statement to describe the organization during 1971-72. The new stated purpose of the organization was for fellowship and mutual enrichment among association members. The function of the NAPCE is to provide fellowship and dialogue for teachers of Christian education and related disciplines who serve in evangelical Bible colleges, liberal arts colleges, and theological seminaries.

Dr. Ron Chadwick, who became the NAPCE president in 1971, was very concerned about the future of the organization. When he learned in 1972 of the poor financial condition of NSSA, he contacted the other NAPCE officers. They decided that the survival of NAPCE required separation from NSSA.

In 1980, NAPCE severed all ties with NAE and became an independent association. The Association continued to operate as it had since about 1972. The NSSA doctrinal statement continued to be used by the Association. Agreement with the statement was expected of all members although signing of the statement had not been required since about 1975.

At the 1984 NAPCE meeting in Kansas City, the officers of the NAPCE recommended incorporation as an independent organization. The first board of directors was formed based on a tentative constitution. Officers were chosen from among the directors.

The membership of the NAPCE has continued to grow. Over two hundred professors joined the Association in 1986. The financial status of the organization improved and at the 1986 convention Dennis Williams accepted the position of a paid part-time executive administrator, to promote the Association and handle some administrative duties.

Between 1991 and 1992, the name was changed from the National Association of Professors of Christian Education to the North American Professors of Christian Education.

The permanent address for NAPCE is 4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80918.

Currently, correspondence may be addressed to NAPCE at 2825 Lexington Road, Louisville, Kentucky, 40280.