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Arthur Kent White was president from 1921 to 1971

Alma White College was a Bible college in Zarephath, New Jersey from 1921[1] to 1978. It was an institution of the Pillar of Fire Church.



In June 1917 an elderly German professor came to Zarephath, the headquarters of the Pillar of Fire, and offered to teach college level classes. Several other classes were organized around a standard college curriculum.[2]

The college was first allowed by the New Jersey Department of Education to grant Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in 1921 and the name Alma White College was chosen.[2][3][4][5] Alma White's son, Arthur Kent White was the first president starting in 1921.[6][7] Alma White was the founder of the church.

In 1923 the Ku Klux Klan in New Jersey provided funding for the school, allowing it to become "the second institution in the north avowedly run by the Ku Klux Klan to further its aims and principles." Alma White said that the Klan philosophy "will sweep through the intellectual student classes as through the masses of the people."[8][9] At that time, the Pillar of Fire was publishing the pro-KKK monthly periodical The Good Citizen. In 1927 the college conferred its first Doctor of Divinity degree.[10]

Arthur Kent White retired as president in 1971.[6][7]

The college made the decision to shut down its liberal arts and science programs. The state gave the school permission to allow the students already enrolled to complete their studies until graduation.[citation needed]

It graduated its last student in June 1978.[11]

The buildings suffered heavy damage in 1971, 1999, and 2011 from flooding on the Delaware and Raritan Canal and the Millstone River.[12][13]

After the closing of the college, the Pillar of Fire continued to operate Zarephath Bible Institute [ZBI], which historically had operated on the campus. In early 2001, on the same campus, the Pillar of Fire founded Somerset Christian College.[14]

Following the flooding caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011, the Zarephath campus buildings have been condemned, and all classes meet at Stonecrest Church in Warren, New Jersey.


Notable and noteworthy graduatesEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Erbon W. Wise, The Bridwell family in America (1978), 105.
  2. ^ a b c Gertrude Metlen Wolfram (1954). The widow of Zarephath. Pillar of Fire. In June 1917 our people made the acquaintance of an elderly German professor, who came to Zarephath offering to conduct classes on the college level for such persons as might care to attend them. Several other classes were organized under some of our own professors, and all were conducted according to regular college schedules, meeting requirements as to hours, numbers of classes, and character of work done. In May 1921 application was made to the Stale Board of Education at Trenton, New Jersey, for a college charter, which, after due inspection and consideration, was granted, and Alma College became a reality. In order to distinguish and avoid confusion in connection with another Alma College, the name was subsequently changed to Alma White College.
  3. ^ Susie Cunningham Stanley (1993). Feminist Pillar of Fire: The Life of Alma White. The Pilgrim Press. ISBN 0-8298-0950-3. assumed the deanship of Alma White College when it was founded in 1921 at Zarephath. Alma White College offered Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, ...
  4. ^ Robert McHenry (1983). Famous American women. ISBN 0-486-24523-3. in 1921, Alma White College in Zarephath ...
  5. ^ The New Jersey almanac. 1963. p. 587. In 1921 the New Jersey Board of Education granted to Alma White College the authority to confer the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science. ...
  6. ^ a b c "Alma White College Exercises". The New York Times. June 14, 1937. Retrieved 2009-12-11. Commencement exercises of Alma White College will be held here tomorrow afternoon, with Arthur K. White, Junior Bishop of the Pillar of Fire Church and president of the college, as the speaker. Zarephath Bible Seminary and Alma Preparatory School are associated with the college.
  7. ^ a b c d "Bishop Arthur White, 92, Dies. Headed Pillar of Fire Church". The New York Times. September 18, 1981. Retrieved 2007-07-21. Bishop Arthur K. White, president and general superintendent of the Pillar of Fire Church in Zarephath, New Jersey, died Monday at his home in Zarephath. He was 92 years old. ... He was president of Alma White College from 1921 to 1971 and received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree there.
  8. ^ "Klan Will Sweep Colleges, She Says. Princeton Will Soon Be Vitally Interested in the Order, Woman Bishop Asserts. Back From Ku Klux Tour. University Paper Declares Institution Should Not Be Influenced by Specious Arguments". The New York Times. November 1, 1923. Retrieved 2009-12-16. That the Ku Klux Klan is on the verge of 'sweeping through the colleges of the country as it has swept through the masses,' was the assertion of Bishop Alma White, founder of the 'Pillar of Fire,' a religious sect and the head of a small institution called the Alma College, fifteen miles north of Princeton at Zarephath, in an interview published this morning in the Daily Princetonian.
  9. ^ "Klan Buys College Close to Princeton". The Harvard Crimson. October 31, 1923. Retrieved 2009-07-06. Bishop Alma White, the founder of the Pillar of Fire Church, and an author of various religious works, is President of the institution under the new regime. In an interview for the Princetonian today Bishop White deplored the present indifference of the undergraduate to the Klan and predicted that in the near future "it will sweep through the intellectual student classes as through the masses of the people."
  10. ^ a b "Zarepath Colony Institution in New Jersey Confers High Honors for First Time. ... Dr. A. M. Young, recipient of a degree at the commencement, was at one time King Kleagle of the New Jersey Klan". The New York Times. June 19, 1927. Retrieved 2009-07-06. For the first time in its history Alma College, at Zarepath, near Bound Brook, N.J., conferred the degree of Doctor of Divinity during its commencement exercises, which took place last week.
  11. ^ "Closed & Renamed New Jersey Colleges & Universities". New Jersey. Archived from the original on 1 January 2010. Retrieved 2009-12-11. Closed: Alma White College, 1978
  12. ^ "Hurricane Floyd Devastates Pillar of Fire International Headquarters". Pillar of Fire Church. September 17, 1999. Retrieved 2009-12-13. Pillar of Fire International Headquarters at Zarephath in Somerset, New Jersey, lies on the Raritan River [sic], which was reported to have crested at ten feet above its banks following more than ten inches of rain brought in by Hurricane Floyd. The main campus, including Zarephath Bible Institute, Zarephath Community Chapel, and WAWZ Christian Radio, was under seven feet of water and by Friday morning was under 100% evacuation. Temple Christian Day School, the Pillar of Fire elementary school, is located in nearby Bound Brook, which was inundated by the out-of-banks river.
  13. ^ "DEP Aims To Update Its Flood Maps". The Star-Ledger. November 9, 2004. Retrieved 2009-12-13. When the floodwaters left by Hurricane Floyd in September 1999 receded from the Pillar of Fire religious complex in Zarephath, Somerset County, they revealed more than just the millions of dollars in damage.
  14. ^ "Mission, Vision and History". Somerset Christian College. Archived from the original on 2010-01-30. Retrieved 2009-12-13. ZBI became [sic] Somerset Christian College on March 23, 2001 when the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education issued the license to grant the two-year Associate in Biblical Studies degree. In 2006 the college was approved to offer four-year Bachelor of Arts degrees.
  15. ^ "Promoted to Glory: Donald Justin Wolfram, 83, Bishop". Belleview College. Archived from the original on 6 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-14. Dr. Donald J. Wolfram left this life on August 25, 2003, after a brief bout with pancreatic cancer. He was 83. ... He earned a bachelor's degree from Alma White College in Zarephath, a master's degree in education from Columbia University and his doctorate in education from the University of Denver.
  16. ^ "Board of Trustees". Somerset Christian College. Archived from the original on 2009-09-06. Retrieved 2009-12-11.
  17. ^ [1]

Further readingEdit

  • Alma White College: a history of its relationship to the development of the Pillar of Fire; Evan Jerry Lawrence (1966)
Preceded by
Zarephath Bible Institute
Education at Zarephath, New Jersey
Succeeded by
Somerset Christian College