When your Alma Mater Closes

On June 25, 2024, it was announced that the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to close Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts. ENC is one of several colleges sponsored by the Church of the Nazarene and has operated since 1900. I am a 1992 and 1995 graduate of ENC and was a staff member for a few years following my graduation. To say that ENC put me on the path to where I am today would be an understatement.

Returning home after being discharged from the Army, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I found employment and started taking classes at a local community college. I was not the best student in high school, so my shot at Harvard had long since passed. After one semester and a reasonably decent semester at that, I applied and was accepted at ENC.

For the most part, ENC was like every other college but much smaller. I went to class and chapel, ate lunch in the café, studied in the library, and went home. I did not interact much with the community beyond those students I was in class with. The pivotal moment, the moment I can point to that changed my life, happened in January 1992.

As with any degree program, there were certain required classes, such as English, math, history, a bible class, and a class on World Missions. I resisted taking this class for as long as I could. Looking back, I believe it was God’s providence that I did wait as long as I did.

The class I needed was being offered in January. These were intensive classes that met each day for several hours. Just as I was reluctant when I stepped on campus for the first time, I entered the class with reluctance.

A Nazarene missionary home on leave taught the class on leave from the Azores. I had never met a missionary before, save the priests and nuns who used to come to the parish looking for money. The teacher, Margaret Scott, is a kind, compassionate, Spirit-filled woman who became like a second mother to me—my spiritual mother.

The class focused on missionaries in the Church of the Nazarene and their work around the world. But a more minor focus was a group of students who had traveled to Romania to work in an orphanage. I am not going to spend much time writing about their work, just to say that it spoke to me, and I needed what we later called “the Romanian Experience.”

Long after I left campus, ENC adopted the phrase “ENC makes a DIfferENCe.” It is a little play on words, but it is true. It is not the school or the campus that makes the difference; it is her students and her faculty that make the difference. One of my ENC colleagues posted about his time at ENC on Facebook, and I commented that the spirit of ENC will live on in its alums and the work that continues.

ENC set me on a path of self-discovery. I found a deep sense of spirituality in the Orthodoxy of the Romanian people and was ordained a priest in the Romanian Orthodox Church in 2004. My time in Orthodoxy brought me deeper into a progressive/liberal theological position that led me out of Orthodoxy and toward a more inclusive church. It’s amusing that it all started in a church-sponsored school that has never been accused of being progressive.

I know that not everyone has warm and fuzzy feelings about ENC and the direction she has taken in the last few years. Many longtime faculty members had lost positions, and the school doubled down on the Churches’ conservative theology. But my time there was transformative, and I will always remember my days on that campus near blue Quincy Bay.

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