A Miracle in Manhattan
Back to the city of the C&MA’s roots
The ceremony of laying the cornerstone of the building that is to be erected by the Society of the Gospel Tabernacle at Eighth Avenue and Forty-Fourth Street (in Manhattan) drew several hundred people to that spot yesterday.”
Those words are from a New York Times article dated January 13, 1889, describing the dedication ceremony, conducted by Dr. A. B. Simpson, of a new property in New York City. This building was to house a college, a Christian home and a sanctuary with seating for 1,200 people.
On April 5, 2013, nearly 125 years after the New York Times piece was written, a Wall Street Journal article (“College Ups Manhattan Space”) reported: “After a six-year search, Nyack College has found a new home in downtown Manhattan. The Christian liberal arts college is more than doubling its space in the city by taking eight floors in a 22-story building on Washington Street near Battery Park.”
Four years ago, the entire Nyack College/Alliance Theological Seminary community was joined by the C&MA family in “A Day of Prayer for a Miracle in Manhattan.” Dr. Simpson once wrote, “Not a whisper of a prayer is ever lost; the longer it waits, the larger it becomes.” Students and staff at Nyack would become intimately familiar with “waiting on the Lord.”
And now, our prayers for a “Miracle in Manhattan” are being answered! The New York City campus of Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary (ATS) is relocating to a new, permanent site at 2 Washington Street in historic Battery Park. The address (an annex of 17 Battery Place) is near landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor, the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Reflecting Pool. The move to the modern structure, with more than 166,000 square feet, took place in May 2013.
A 20-year lease, with options that extend to 2042, has been signed, and the terms allow Nyack to exercise a two-year option to purchase the new space for $49.3 million dollars. The purchase will save this institution and the Kingdom $20 million in property tax alone.
Our roots, the very DNA of Nyack College/Alliance Theological Seminary and The Christian and Missionary Alliance, are inextricably tied together in “the gateway city to the world.”
It’s no surprise that when Dr. Simpson searched for a way to reach the world, he came to New York City. Even in the nineteenth century, Manhattan Island was a gateway to the world. It became an amazing mix of cultures and nationalities that transformed America. Since the world comes to New York City, a mission-minded institution like the Missionary Training Institute, as the college was then called, could impact many countries and cultures.
In the early years, Dr. Simpson maximized the school’s modest beginnings when he conducted classes on the back of a Broadway stage. The institution moved to Rockland County’s Lower Hudson Valley in 1897, but Nyack College never lost its heart for New York City. We returned in 1997, by which time we were offering full degree programs. Today, nearly half of our institution-wide student population of nearly 3,400 is enrolled at the New York City campus alone.
Who are these students?
Some are fresh out of high school and others, mid-career; many are first-generation college students. A significant number work full-time. They come from all five boroughs of New York City and originate from more than 62 countries. More than 20 languages are the native tongues of this “united nations” of learners. Our students can literally speak to the world.
Is there a better investment that we can make in the Kingdom of God?
What will the Battery Park campus look like? The moment you walk through the front doors, you will experience the look and feel of a world-class university. It has 60 spacious smart classrooms, state-of-the-art computer and science labs, an entire floor dedicated to the music program and a new, expanded library with specialized collections. The new building will allow for a doubling of the enrollment.
From the humble beginnings of the Missionary Training Institute to Nyack College today, operating on campuses in Rockland County, New York City and Puerto Rico, Simpson’s vision has gained new momentum. Here, where the C&MA was birthed, in a city with more than 8 million residents, we are educating servant-leaders with a Christian global mindset. More than 32,000 alumni serve in approximately 80 nations around the globe. Imagine the possibilities as future educators, corporate and government leaders, medical professionals, community development visionaries and church leaders are prepared at Nyack, a hub of Christian scholarship.
God has placed us where we are at this time in history. He is calling us to leave a legacy on a grand scale. We want future generations to look back with pride and say, “The times were impossible, but the need was great and the calling was even greater.”
The Kingdom-building potential of this new campus is unfathomable for us, and yet it fits perfectly into God’s sovereign plan for our Alliance. We are blessed to be a part of such a plan as this.
The “Miracle in Manhattan” is not finished. It is just beginning.
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