Alva J. McClain
Alva J. McClain, the founder and first president of Grace
Theological Seminary and Grace College, was born in Iowa and
later grew up in Sunnyside, Washington. Shortly after his
marriage to Josephine Gingrich in 1911, he and his wife were
saved under the preaching of Dr. L.S. Bauman. He had been at-
tending the University of Washington, but removed to Los An-
geles, where he attended the Bible Institute of Los Angeles
and sat under the teaching of Dr. R.A. Torrey.
Upon graduating from Biola, he enrolled in Xenia
Theological Seminary and completed work for the B.D. and
Th.M. degrees–following which he was called to the First
Brethren Church of Philadelphia, where he served from 1918 to
1923. During the pastorate he taught at the Philadelphia
School of the Bible. Because of ill health, he resigned and
removed to California, where he finished his work for the
A.B. degree at Occidental College, graduating as valedictor-
ian. Later he was awarded the honorary degree of LL.D. at Bob
Jones University, and the D.D. degree at the Bible Institute
of Los Angeles.
In 1925 and 1926, he served as professor of Bible at
Ashland College. In 1927-1929 he taught Christian theology at
the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. In 1930, the first gradu-
ate school of theology in the Brethren Church was organized
at Ashland College under his leadership, where he served as
its first academic dean and professor of Christian theology.
In 1937 Grace Theological Seminary was organized un-
der his direction, and as first president and professor of
Christian theology, he served from 1937 to 1962.
Dr. McClain authored many short treatises, but will
be remembered for his monumental work on Christian theology,
The Greatness of the Kingdom, one of seven volumes he had
projected concerning the entire scope of Christian faith. He
will long be remembered as scholar, theologian, educator,
master teacher, and Christian gentleman.
Alva J. McClain