Sunday, September 07, 2008

S. Z. Sharp

Solomon Zook Sharp was born in December 1835 to Mennonite parents in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. In addition to his public school education, he was self-taught in Latin, Greek, mathematics and the sciences. He taught in the public schools from 1855-1860 before beginning a lifetime of teaching and administration in higher education. He was married and baptized into the Brethren Church in 1860.

During the time period between the Civil War and World War I, more than 800 colleges and universities were founded in the United States, most under the auspices of religious bodies. Brethren were greatly affected by this widespread establishment of institutions of higher education. An important issue in the development of Brethren schools during the latter half of the 19th century was the function of the educational institution in relationship to the church's ministry. Whether the colleges should become involved in the training of ministers for the church was subject to great debate.

S.Z. Sharp was a leading figure in the college movement among the Brethren and pointed to the possibility of colleges helping the church to fulfill its purpose. He argued that the church must make use of all means God had provided, including those Brethren to whom they could entrust the education of children.

When Ashland College opened in 1879, Sharp served as its first President. He would later teach at Mt. Morris College and serve as President of McPherson College.

Sharp was also an early advocate of Sunday Schools and wrote the first Brethren Sunday School literature.

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia