MULBERRY, FL. -- Spurgeon Baptist Bible College is moving from its Mulberry campus and is currently looking for a place in Polk County, with a different vision.
"Things change," said Wallace Lont, president of Spurgeon. "We can't always do things the ways we've done before and force the past on the present."
The small Christian college sold the 33acre site for more than $2 million to the Southern Lutheran Academy, which will open a new high school next fall. The school is making ready to open its new Christian boarding.
Lont says the school is shifting to just academics. It used to provide community experience for students but as the new semester opens up students will be responsible for commuting just for instruction since there will be no housing, food, recreation, or other religious activities provided by the school. New Spurgeon will only have administriative offices, classrooms, a small bookstore, and the library.
"It's a matter of timing and making a change appropriate to the day and age in which we live and the ministries we have," Lont said.
Lot explained the difficulty the school faced in bringing in students since he came to the school in the late 1980s when there was only about 50 students.
"We recognize . . . academics and religious training have gone through a transition, and it's a continual transition," he said. "If we're going to meet the needs and meet our mission, we need to take that into consideration and make adjustments."
The college offers classes at night a few times a week to accommodate its students' work and ministry schedules.
The Christian high school, Southern Lutheran Academy, that is taking old Spurgeon’s place will open this August with 25 9th graders. Eventually the high school will have 250 students and build an additional dormitory and gymnasium. Neil Scriver, the academy’s president, said he will accept students outside of Lutheran faith.
Southern Lutheran Academy, an association of 31 congregations scattered throughout the Southeast, is part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. This will be the synods' 24th high school.
The school will teach traditional and conservative values along with rigorous academics, Scriver said.
"We're excited about obtaining their well-maintained campus and look forward to use it for our ministries," he said.
"Everything we do in education today is to prepare young people for the work force or school beyond high school and I think we'll be able to do that," he added.