Remembering our history

Missionary, Pastor, Educator and Author

Dr. Calvin Hanson left a lasting legacy in the EFCA.

“If Christ is Lord, then nothing is secular.”

These were the oft-repeated words of Dr. Calvin Hanson, founding president of Trinity Junior College, now known as Trinity Western University. He was convinced that secular studies were necessary for Christian students to understand their world and be well-rounded in their faith.

A black and white photo of a man in a suit, looking at the camera
Calvin Hanson

Hanson was the son of Rev. Philip Hanson, a well-known leader in EFCA churches in California. Calvin graduated from the Free Church Bible Institute and Seminary (now Trinity) in 1946 while serving as pastor for the Joliet (Illinois) Free Church. He also studied at Wheaton College during that time.

After graduating, he and his wife Muriel moved to Japan, the first Free Church missionaries there. They served for 10 years and saw churches planted while new missionary staff joined them.

During his furlough in 1961, he served as interim pastor at an EFCA church, but was approached by Arnold T. Olson to become president of the new college being planned in Canada.

“The overwhelming reaction which swept over me was, ‘Why me, Lord?' Eventually I would conclude that under the circumstances had they approached a man with the right kind of experience and credentials he would have known better than to accept. Only a missionary would be crazy enough to try!” —Dr. Calvin Hanson

For the next 12 years, God used Cal to build the new school from 17 students to well over 300. But he was also a historian, writing the stories of Trinity Western, Trinity College and Seminary, biographies of several leaders and “What it Means to be Free,” mandatory reading for every pastor seeking to be credentialed in the EFCA.

He later taught practical theology at Trinity in Chicago. After a life of great leadership in the EFCA, God called him home in May 2013. But his legacy lives on in the thousands of students he taught, the books he wrote and the lives impacted through his ministry.

Tom Cairns

Tom Cairns is the archivist for the EFCA. A physician who worked for 19 years in Congo, Tom later served as director of international ministries for the EFCA mission, now known as ReachGlobal. Since retirement, Tom enjoys sharing stories about the history of the EFCA, answering questions from our churches and helping the churches with their own stories. He also uploads our historical books, photos and documents to our archive website. Tom’s great desire is to bring glory to God as we celebrate the history we have in the EFCA.

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