Their new Life Pacific University (LPU) name marks the end of a six-year accreditation journey that has brought renewed vision and life to the ministry-focused school established in 1923 as a Bible institute by Foursquare Founder Aimee Semple McPherson.
While LPU begins operations in the summer, and its new status was celebrated at Foursquare Connection 2019 in Nashville, Tenn., May 27-30, the change won’t be celebrated more fully until later in the year. At homecoming, Nov. 4-9, the alumni luncheon traditionally for 10-, 25- and 50-year classes will be opened to all past students, as the gathering honors the school’s heritage.
School leaders pursued university status as part of a revitalization effort in step with Foursquare’s Reimagine process realigning the movement for the future. With a new emphasis on helping prepare students for marketplace as well as traditional forms of ministry, LPU enrollment has grown considerably in the past few years to almost 700 students, residential and online. The latest graduating class is the largest in decades.
LPU now offers 13 associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in its College of Theology and Ministry, and College of Arts and Sciences. Each undergraduate student concurrently minors in biblical studies, enabling all BA graduates to qualify for Foursquare licensing.
As part of the change, LPU is unveiling a new logo that honors its past and points to its future—a stylized lighthouse in the school’s “Warrior” sports colors of blue and gold. The image harkens back to Aimee Semple McPherson’s vision of Foursquare churches as “lighthouses” in a stormy world and also notes one of the school’s several names during its history: Lighthouse of International Foursquare Evangelism, later shortened to L.I.F.E.
“This is about much more than merely a name change. It recognizes God’s leading and guiding in the reshaping and re-envisioning of our longtime educational and training resource to be part of releasing more people into effective ministry, in whatever venue and form that may be.”
—Glenn Burris Jr., president of The Foursquare Church
The transition to a university has involved a series of “philosophical and organizational changes,” according to President Jim J. Adams, Ed.D., a 1977 Life Pacific alum, who has led the initiative. “It has been an amazing opportunity, and the capstone of my full-time career,” he says, announcing he will retire at the end of 2019. “I’m extremely grateful to God for this experience, and for the remarkable team I have worked with.”
Noting that Foursquare leaders have called LPU the movement’s educational flagship, he says “that does not always mean the biggest, but it is the one out ahead, and we have innovated and will continue to do so to meet the needs of Reimagine and to set an example for others in Foursquare education.”
LPU’s “graduation” to a university comes as it not only expands its educational opportunities in the United States, but also extends its reach overseas. This fall will see the first graduating class in the MA in Christian Leadership offered in partnership with TCA College in Singapore, equipping leaders working in parts of South and East Asia.
Additionally, this summer LPU launches a fully Spanish-language MA in Leadership, with plans for it to be offered to students in Latin America within the next couple of years.
LPU’s new season will unfold under new leadership, as Jim will step down at the end of the year. A nationwide search for his replacement is currently underway, with the new president due to be named sometime in the fall.
Foursquare President Glenn Burris Jr. welcomes LPU’s new status. “This is about much more than merely a name change,” he affirms. “It recognizes God’s leading and guiding in the reshaping and re-envisioning of our longtime educational and training resource to be part of releasing more people into effective ministry, in whatever venue and form that may be.”
More than 27,000 students have completed some form of study at LPU during its history, although not all earned degrees. The school began as Echo Park Evangelistic Missionary Training Institute in Los Angeles and was renamed L.I.F.E. Bible College three years later when it moved adjacent to Foursquare’s Angelus Temple. The school relocated to San Dimas in 1990.
Launched as an immersive discipleship program 10 years ago as Ignite, Life Pacific University–Virginia is exploring the addition of four-year degree programs, with around 70 students at the Christiansburg campus. The two LPU locations are served by a total of around 250 faculty and staff.