On February 16, 1996, Dr. Jack Hayford was flying back to Los Angeles after speaking to more than 39,000 pastors at the Promise Keepers Clergy Conference held at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta—the largest gathering of pastors in modern day history.
He was relaxing in his seat, looking out the plane window and enjoying the majestic beauty of the clouds floating at an altitude of 37,000 feet when, out of the blue, Pastor Jack heard a still, small Voice tell him to begin a seminary. Founding a seminary was a leap he never expected, though education had always been important to him in leading his church congregation at The Church On The Way.
In the preceding two decades, The School On The Way, the church’s internal teaching ministry, offered classes in Bible, practical ministry and theology. The majority of the students were not pursuing a call to professional ministry, but simply gaining a deeper sense of God’s truth to equip them as believers and servants in their local congregation.
The School On The Way had several volunteer faculty whose academic qualifications and course content established a base for some students to receive transfer credits to a nationally accredited ministry training school. This earlier expression of Pastor Jack’s sense of mission to train leaders for ministry was fruitful, but it was not until the 1990s that the Lord moved him to establish a college- and seminary-level institution to provide undergraduate and graduate diplomas and degrees.
With the Church poised to enter the 21st century, Pastor Jack recognized there was a tremendous need for a Bible-based, Spirit-empowered school to provide men and women with a solid foundation of theological and ministerial training. But beyond creating a place for academic and practical education, his desire was to raise up leaders who rest in the power of the Holy Spirit and replicate the life of Jesus in whomever they serve.
A Spiritual Heritage
In September of 1997—a year and a half after that momentous plane ride—classes began at The King’s College and Seminary in Los Angeles, California. It is clear that God’s leading to launch a Spirit-empowered college and seminary in the spiritually historic city of Los Angeles—the “City of Angels”—wasn’t mere happenstance.
Los Angeles is a city rich with spiritual heritage. This is the very city where the worldwide revival that sparked the Pentecostal Movement had taken place nearly a century before at Azusa Street. This is also the city where Aimee Semple McPherson, who was one of the most significant female evangelists in American history, birthed the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, built one of the largest churches in the United States and was the first woman to use the medium of radio to preach the gospel.
It was in Los Angeles that Billy Graham launched a national revival at The Rose Bowl in 1949 that would end up transforming the heart of America for the next five decades. And how apropos is it that Los Angeles is where Demos Shakarian launched The Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International in 1951 that introduced the Spirit-filled life to millions of American business leaders?
In addition, it is especially significant that the first location chosen for The King’s is literally on the exact same street and block where God used Father Dennis Bennett, Rector at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, to spark the great Church renewal that we call the Charismatic Movement in 1960.
For years, The King’s University was the only accredited Pentecostal/Charismatic postsecondary institution in Los Angeles, and the King’s Seminary was the only accredited Pentecostal/Charismatic seminary on the West Coast of North America.
As the fastest growing movement in church history, the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement is showing no signs of slowing its momentum and The King’s University is actively contributing to it by raising up new generations of Spirit-empowered leaders.
The Early Years
The King’s grew rapidly and miraculously. Around this time, Pastor Jack felt an ever-increasing urgency to give himself wholly to God’s call of building a seminary, which led him to conclude his 30 years of service as the senior pastor of The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California in 1999.
Those early years were marked by miracles upon miracles. God was faithful to bring individuals who supported The King’s both through their prayers and through their generous donations. Within the first two and a half years, the school was able to establish an online program and build a 177,000-volume library collection through supporters’ significant gifts. Scores of faculty and staff caught the vision of The King’s and joined in to set a strong foundation and put into place the pillars that exist to this day. Students came from across the country and around the world because they sensed the call of God to receive their ministry training at The King’s.
In 1999, The King’s began the arduous process of accreditation. In one year, they received Candidacy status from the two major nationally recognized Christian Accreditation Associations, and in the next year Initial Accreditation. No school in the history of either association had ever completed the eight- to ten-year process in two years!
There is no other way to describe what took place during those early years other than it was miraculous. From how supernaturally quick the accreditation requirements were fulfilled to the divine provision of the necessary properties and facilities which were secured, from assembling a top-notch team of faculty and administration to taking in a sizable number of students, the hand of God on The King’s was truly evident everywhere.
A New Season
Throughout the first decade, The King’s continued to expand and grow by planting new extension campuses across the nation in conjunction with several local churches. In 2009, Gateway Church entered the picture when their founding senior pastor, Robert Morris, received a mandate from God to “train the next generation for ministry.” To fulfill that dream from God, Gateway Church partnered with The King’s University in California to create a branch campus in Southlake, Texas. With The King’s help, Gateway wanted to train and equip students for ministry within the church as well as outside the four walls of the church.
Pastor Jack and Pastor Robert share a moving story of how the Lord simultaneously spoke to each of them, prompting a decision to move the main campus to Gateway Church. Following that leading, and approved by the Board, the transition began, becoming finalized in January 2014.
This new beginning represented the culmination of a multi-year planning process that was first birthed in the heart of Dr. Robert Morris (who now serves as chairman of The King’s University Board of Trustees) and is an extension of the very close relationship that exists between Dr. Robert Morris and Dr. Jack Hayford.
This Is Only The Beginning
Today, The King’s University operates in multiple locations across the U.S. and around the world. “The King’s University (TKU) has already impacted the lives of many students, and I look forward to seeing how this next step for TKU influences even more students for life-transforming ministry,” says Pastor Robert.
Currently, the university offers 13 accredited vocational ministry degree plans including undergraduate and graduate degrees. Most recently, a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy was added to the program offerings. In the near future, the school anticipates adding several new degree programs, including an undergraduate degree completion program and a master’s degree in leadership. Pastor Jack says: “When we founded The King’s University, it was our vision to see students experience quality ministry education. As we move into this next season and our vision expands, I believe TKU’s influence will increase globally as more students gain access to a wider variety of degrees.”
As a Spirit-filled evangelical institution of higher education, the King’s University is dedicated to the preparation of men and women for effective leadership and Christ-like servanthood in the global community.