A new chapter in education in Franklin County, Pa., began Monday when Winebrenner Theological Seminary officially opened its doors at the home of the former Scotland School for Veterans Children.
The school begins seminary classes this fall.
“The way we are going to measure our success is not by the number of graduates, not by the money (the school) generates, but is the world a better place,” said David Draper, president of Winebrenner Theological Seminary.
The Ohio-based seminary is affiliated with the Church of God denomination, but recruits students from other backgrounds. Plans are under way for the school to offer two master’s level programs initially.
Winebrenner Theological Seminary closed on the formerly state-owned boarding school on June 6 in a reported $1.8 million transaction. It hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday to commemorate the transition.
Winebrenner alumni and Church of God followers nearly filled the school’s auditorium for the occasion.
“The Lord has been with us and helped us,” said the Rev. Michael Walker, chairman of the seminary’s board of trustees.
In the ceremony’s opening prayer, the Rev. Dennis Koontz thanked the Lord for the thousands already educated on the campus and the thousands to come.
Scotland School for Veterans Children opened in the 19th century to serve Civil War orphans.
David Newell, who is directing the Winebrenner’s Pennsylvania operations, thanked Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross and Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce President David Sciamanna for how they helped seminary officials become confident about the project.
“From a community standpoint, there could not be a better reuse,” Ross said.
Ross said that almost a year ago to the day, he flew to Ohio to tour Winebrenner’s campus there with Shippensburg (Pa.) University representatives and other economic development officials.
“We want to be on your team to do whatever we can to support the continued growth of the seminary here,” Ross said.
Sciamanna said he attended the last graduation at Scotland School for Veterans Children on June 6, 2009, and saw many tears shed.
“I sat there and thought about all the kids affected across the generations, and what was to come,” he said.
Several federal agencies toured the campus, and other groups had ideas for its redevelopment, but Winebrenner ultimately was the “right thing,” he said.
State Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin/Cumberland, called the closure of Scotland School for Veterans Children the most difficult period of his legislative career. He said it feels good to see people using the 185-acre campus again.
“This is really a prayer answered for many of the (Scotland School) alumnus. They wanted to see the memory of Scotland School kept alive in some way,” Kauffman said.
Winebrenner is exploring collaborative opportunities for degree programs with Shippensburg University, Penn State Mont Alto and Wilson College, officials said.
It also has space available to be booked for conferences, meetings and educational needs.
Winebrenner Theological Seminary initially will hire about five people for the campus, which could employ 30 people if enrollment goals are met, according to published reports.