100 Years—and Still Counting

Crown College graduates are called to serve and prepared to lead


Early in 1916, an unassuming farmer from North Dakota named Ezra Gerig packed up his belongings and his passionate heart and traveled to St. Paul to the home of Rev. J. D. and Harriet Williams. Ezra stated the purpose of his visit as soon as the reverend opened the door: “I am here for you to teach me the Word of God.”

100 Years—and Counting
Two members of the inaugural graduating class, Ezra Gerig and Harold Freliegh, attend the 50th anniversary celebration in 1966.

Delighted with Ezra’s willingness to learn, J. D. and Harriet welcomed him along with two other boarding students and began teaching them Bible classes. Soon after, the Williamses taught the same classes to 40 students in their home in the evening.

On October 13, 1916, J. D. Williams initiated the process of establishing an official school: the Alliance Training Home. From these unpretentious beginnings and into the next 100 years, Crown College developed into an institution of learning whose mission is to equip men and women to be servant leaders in the church and in the world.

The Early Years

In 1917, Dr. A. B. Simpson, founder of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, visited the school’s newly built campus in St. Paul, Minnesota, complete with its new chapel, dormitories, and dining hall. Dr. Simpson spoke of the importance of a Christ-centered school and stressed the idea of upholding a spiritually strong center. Through its many changes, Crown College remains a haven for those seeking a biblically based education for Christian leadership throughout the world.

100 Years—and Counting
Crown College timeline, 1916-1960

In 1918, the school graduated five students, including Ezra Gerig, from a one-major, two-year Bible training program. The students each paid tuition of $5 per semester and rounded out their expenses paying $4 per week for room and board.

After graduation, Ezra followed God’s call, becoming a pastor in the state of Oregon. Whether intended or not, an MRS degree occurred within the very first graduating class of Crown College. Two of the students, Harold Freliegh and Ella Holsted, married after graduation.

High Impact

After 16 different presidents, several campus moves and numerous name changes, Crown College now makes its home in St. Bonafacius, Minnesota, on a 215-acre area of land in Carver County. More than 1,300 students now attend Crown College, either on campus or online, and each year, nearly 250 students graduate with degrees in 59 different majors in traditional four-year baccalaureate programs or five- or six-year master’s programs.

Through all of the changes in location, logistics, and technology, one thing has remained the same: Crown College exists to help students recognize the skills, talents, and passions God has given them and how He will use them to change the world.

100 Years—and Counting
Crown College timeline, 1970-1916

Over the past 100 years, countless stories and memories emerge from student, faculty, and administrative experiences and encounters. Each student, whether through academics, athletics, fine arts, or student life, tells a unique story of how Crown College has impacted him or her. In turn, these students now impact their spheres of influence around the world.

To highlight these stories, Crown College plans to honor, commemorate, and celebrate the college’s centennial with various events throughout the 2016–2017 school year. Crown College Homecoming (October 14–15, 2016) is always a great time for alumni to return to their alma mater. The events included in the homecoming festivities this year will focus on the theme of “Centennial: Treasured Legacy . . . Compelling Future.”

Other events throughout the year include Christmas in Crown Chapel in December, an alumni men and women’s basketball game in January, and the 100th commencement of Crown graduates in May.

Ezra Gerig and J. D. Williams launched a legacy of learning and teaching God’s Word 100 years ago. This legacy is maintained because of Crown College’s commitment to a Christ-centered education, academic excellence, and global connections. With this firm foundation of faithfulness, Crown College enters into its next century of preparing graduates who are called to serve and prepared to lead.

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