Hartland College: The Power of a Dream
“Now, when the Lord bids us proclaim the message once more with power in the East,…shall we not respond as one man and do His bidding?” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 99
In July of 1982, a small but enthusiastic group of Seventh-day Adventists read this statement and decided that it was time to establish a health facility and a missionary college to help fulfill this mandate. The group had formed from a series of weekend seminars on prophecy, health, righteousness by faith, and educational reform.
The seminars were organized by Hal Mayer, a 1981 Weimar College graduate who had returned home to help his parents develop a health center. Now the vision was expanding to include a college.
Dr. Colin Standish, dean of Weimar College and former president of Columbia Union College, was asked to lead the new venture. Hal and his wife Betsy, a 1982 Weimar graduate, agreed to search for a property.
Soon they discovered that only one eastern state would allow their unique college program—Virginia. The allowance was due to Thomas Jefferson’s efforts to protect religious schools from state interference.
In October of 1982, Hal and Betsy discovered the Hartland Hall Plantation in northern central Virginia, just 90 miles from Washington D.C. Through a series of incredible miracles, the property was purchased and a small band of pioneers arrived on July 4, 1983 to begin operating Hartland Institute of Health and Education.
Hartland College opened that September with 13 brave students! Classes were held in the old ballroom turned chapel and in the dining room. There was no running water or central heat in the mansion. Despite this, the group carried on with the help of portable kerosene heaters.
There were no dormitories. Students lived in staff homes which desperately needed to be remodeled. And with only one maintenance worker, staff members either roughed it or did their own remodeling. Salaries were mere tokens¬—$25 a month per family member. Kind friends were crucial to survival. Local church members brought their garden produce and brave vendors extended credit beyond reasonable limits.
The Hartland pioneers experienced a great faith-building venture—one that they would recommend for all who have joined the staff and student body since.