San Antonio Seven
In 1967, a group of Catholic college students from Steubenville, Ohio, were baptized in the Holy Spirit while on a weekend retreat. This was the beginning of the Charismatic Revival, which spread across many denominational lines. At the same time, a group of hippies were starting to follow the teachings of Jesus on the West Coast. Hundreds were baptized at a time in the Pacific Ocean. These two movements met on the college campus giving birth and new direction to campus outreach.
Chi Alpha Campus Ministries had existed since 1951 as a church youth group on campus. Although there were some exceptions, it was primarily an inward-looking ministry. In the late 1960’s, Rick Howard, the national director of Chi Alpha, began to speak prophetically about the direction of the ministry. He believed college ministry needed to look outward and consider the campus as a mission field. Dave Gable, the next national director, gave legs to the vision that Howard had set forth. In the mid 1970’s, he began to bring leaders together to strategize about the opportunity on campuses nationwide.
In 1977, Gable called together six representative campus leaders to define what campus outreach could become, and come up with a call to action. The names of the others were: Herschel Rosser, Dave Argue, Jim Hall, Dennis Gaylor, Brady Bobbink, and Harvey Herman. A varied group, they were made up of ex-hippies, people who had grown up in church, Bible college graduates, and secular college products from every region of the country. They met outside of San Antonio, Texas, later being known as the “San Antonio Seven.”
During their time, they asked one question: What were the central qualities that defined the first century church? The result of their Scriptural search was a four-fold philosophy. The principles that emerged from their study of the book of Acts was the church was defined by a ministry of worship, fellowship, discipleship, and witness. Prayer was later added to the ministry philosophy. This understanding became the foundation for a renewed ministry outreach that has grown nationwide and around the world since 1977.
Since 1977, students have been mobilized for campus outreach, and thousands of students have started following Jesus. Students have reached out to international students with friendship and hospitality. Students have given up their spring and summer breaks to serve on U.S. and overseas mission trips. And students have graduated and gone into the marketplace to continue passing on the philosophy the San Antonio Seven discovered in the Book of Acts.
We believe the mandate from heaven is still applicable today. It began in Genesis 12 and is reflected throughout the Old and New Testaments. God’s concern is for all of the peoples of the world. How the church has responded to that mandate is also clear from history. Too often the church has fallen off track and become indifferent to its worldwide obligations. But God doesn’t leave Himself without a witness. God responds by raising up a man or woman to call his church to action — and in many cases that man or woman has been a college student.