In October of 1948, a small group of Christian school teachers met in Camden, New Jersey for fellowship and sharing of ideas. The schools represented included: Camden County (NJ) Christian School (now The King's Christian School), Bridgeton (NJ) Christian School, Vineland (NJ) Christian School (now Cumberland Christian School), Wilmington (DE) Christian School, Willow Grove (PA)Christian Day School (later to become part of Phil-Mont Christian Academy), and Kirkwood (PA) Christian School.
This "Institute," as it was called, became an annual event and the Association of Christian Schools in the Philadelphia Area, later to be known as the Mid-Atlantic Christian Schools Association, was born. Much has changed in seventy years: there are now 65 schools representing thousands of students. With growth has come diversity, both in the variety of Christian schools represented as well as in the breadth of activities and services offered. During the 1950's new schools joined the association and new activities were added. The original constitution was adopted in 1950. An Institute in the fall, plus two other dinner meetings became part of the annual schedule. In 1959, a Fine Arts Festival as well as the practice of awarding of an annual scholarship was begun.
In 1964, a new constitution was adopted with a couple of significant changes. The name was changed to Mid-Atlantic Christian Schools Association. The new constitution also broadened the original constitution's adherence to a distinctively Reformed or Calvinistic position to one which is more broadly evangelical.
The 1960s were also a time of turmoil in public education. The Engle v. Vitale and Abington v. Schempp U.S. Supreme Court cases in 1962 and 1963 spelled the official end of prayer and Bible reading in public schools. These landmark cases, both of which originated in the Mid-Atlantic region, served as red flags to Christian parents as to the true state of public education. Nationally, a burgeoning of new Christian schools resulted.
Through the 1970s and 1980s, MACSA benefited from this growth. Not only has membership now close to 65 schools, but the scope of activities and services has also grown. In addition to the activities mentioned earlier, MACSA now sponsors track meets and Bible quizzing. Services include a newsletter, new teachers' orientation, a development seminar, an administrators' luncheon, teacher placement service, and school consultations.
In 2017, MACSA hired its current Executive Director, William Stevens, who came from a life-long career of leadership positions in Christian schools in the region.
The jewel of MACSA continues to be the annual fall convention in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. What began in the fall of 1948 as an institute is now a widely acclaimed convention with hundreds of delegates.
While MACSA is technically an association of schools, it has been faithful and dedicated individuals whom God has used to accomplish his work. At the risk of leaving some out, we'd like to mention some key individuals whom God has used.
Key leaders in the early years included teachers Emily Gray and Mildred Pusey. Later Barbara Peters, Charlotte Kuschke, Penny Pappas, Barbara Blair, Johanna Timmer and Dorothy Cilley were active. The involvement of Frank Roberts, Bud Gray, Robert Ream, Nancy Jacobsen, Glen Furman, and Les Brubaker spanned several decades.
Formally elected Presidents have been:
Two individuals who became national leaders in the Christian school movement, but whose roots were in MACSA, were the late Roy W. Lowrie, Jr. and Art Nazigian. Convention directors have included Keith Yoder, Jay Katz, Sandy Outlar, Graham Gilbert, Peter Teague and Don Dawes.
The late Frank Gaebelein gave powerful advice to MACSA schools many years ago: "Keep them Christian!" MACSA looks back on 70 exciting years and looks forward to an exciting future of service to the Christian schools movement.
(Updated January 2019. A special thanks goes to Dr. Paul Foster for many details included in the pamphlet, A Look Back Toward Tomorrow.)