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History of Friends at APU

Training School for Christian Workers

In 1899, a group of Friends (Quakers) in Whittier, California, founded the Training School for Christian Workers (TSCW) to train missionaries, pastors, and other church leaders. Through a variety of moves and mergers with other schools, that training school became Azusa Pacific University.

The TSCW grew out of the commitment to missionary and evangelism ministry held by Friends. Twenty-five of the first thirty students of the training school, as well as its first president, Mary Hill, served as missionaries on foreign mission fields.

For its first three decades, the TSCW was directed by Friends leaders. Since then, though Azusa Pacific University is not affiliated with a particular denomination, the Friends Church has continued in partnership with Azusa Pacific University, both deeply committed to serving the Church through leadership development.

History of Friends Center

In 1980, Friends leaders Chuck Mylander and C.W. Perry began discussing the dream of and the need for a local seminary experience for Friends leaders. Azusa Pacific University did not yet include a School of Theology, but graduate extension courses from APU were offered to Friends students at Rose Drive Friends Church in Yorba Linda, California.

In 1983, APU opened the Graduate School of Theology. A year later, Friends (EFCSW) partnered with the school to establish the Friends Center, signing a partnership agreement in 1985. Friends students began pursuing master’s-level training through the graduate school, receiving scholarships and support from the Friends churches and the Friends Center director.

Each year, the Friends Center raises scholarships and administrative support through two events: a banquet held on the campus of Azusa Pacific University, and a concert at Rose Drive Friends Church featuring APU’s University Choir and Orchestra.

In 1991, the Graduate School of Theology moved into APU’s Ronald Building near the corner of Alosta and Citrus, and Friends endowed a Friends Conference Room, available for use by all faculty and students. In 2003, the graduate school moved to the Duke Academic Complex on APU’s West Campus, and the new facilities also include a Friends Conference Room with a display celebrating the history of Friends at APU.