From the beginning these colleges enjoyed a shared history. Final plans for Chicago Evangelistic Institute were formulated on the campus of Central Holiness University. Leaders of the day in the Holiness movement were involved in the planning for both schools. In later years, the institutions came to share the same Iowa campus. And both schools were founded by remarkable visionaries.
Eloise Tinsley Gilmore was not yet 20 years old when she first imagined the building of a “holiness school – a place where parents could be assured children would become cultured Christian men and women.” In 1899 when she married W. R. Gilmore she gained a partner who endorsed her conviction. As a seal of their faith that God would bring to pass her vision, they each deposited a silver dollar in the local bank. By 1904 there were funds enough that the Holiness Land Investment Company was formed to purchase 151 acres of land in University Park, Iowa. In September 1906, Central Holiness University opened its doors.
Iva Durham Vennard founded her first school, Epworth Evangelistic Institute, at the age of 32. A training school for Methodist Deaconesses, Epworth grew steadily during the 8 years of Mrs. Vennard’s leadership. Notwithstanding, she was eventually informed that preachers did not want deaconesses to study theology or practice evangelism. As these were the premises upon which she had founded Epworth, Mrs. Vennard felt her time there was concluded and so announced her resignation in January of 1910. A mere eight months later would see the opening of her second school. The previous fall, directors of The Christian Witness had met with Mrs. Vennard, urging her to found a co-educational Bible college in Chicago. Upon her resignation, plans began to take shape and were solidified during the National Holiness Association meeting, held in June on the campus of Central Holiness University. In October of 1910, Chicago Evangelistic Institute was opened with Dr. Vennard’s stated purpose of training young men and women who would be “grounded in doctrine and experience, by sane, Scriptural instruction, and that they may be consistent and intelligent in leading others into the truth.”
The Vennard Alumni Association is dedicated to carrying forward these principles upon which our schools were founded. In recognition of Eloise Tinsley Gilmore and Iva Durham Vennard, it is our honor to support students who are training to be tomorrow's Christian leaders by awarding the Gilmore Vennard Scholarship.