You may wonder how First Presbyterian Church ended up supporting a college in Pakistan.
I will try to give the short answer. In the world of Christianity, I like to think each denomination has a particular strength: something it does particularly well. The Presbyterian Church excels at establishing small colleges in sometimes quite out-of-the-way places. In old-time Texas, these were places like Kerrville (Schreiner University), Sherman (Austin College) and Kingsville (Presbyterian Pan American School).
At about the same time they were being established on the Texas frontier, a Presbyterian missionary to India, Charles W. Forman, in 1864 founded what became Forman Christian College, A Chartered University (FCCU), in Lahore, Pakistan (at that time a part of British India). Lahore is now the “Paris” of Pakistan, a big city, and FCCU has educated a non-trivial fraction of the leadership of Pakistan.
Many of you remember George and Jean Biggs, FPC members who spent a lifetime working in these schools and who—I think mostly as an effort to improve our understanding of the Muslim world—took on FCCU as a particular ministry, Bonnie and I worked for the church in Pakistan back in the 1990s, so George and Jean (now both deceased) handed us the baton because we had actually seen the place. In addition to advocacy, we also support some students there directly. Below is news from Lahore provided by our contact, Susan Mann with Friends of Forman Christian College, the U.S. organization we work through.
—Bill Stump, Mission Advocate
- The pandemic caused the university to move about 900 courses online in March 2020 after the first government shutdown. Only students participating in active research remained on campus. In-person classes recently reopened. Friends raised almost $40,000 to fight COVID-19 on campus, for hand sanitizer, masks, Plexiglas and coronavirus tests.
- The graduate programs with the highest enrollments are chemistry, biotechnology, environmental sciences and physics.
- Dr. Jonathan Addleton, a U.S. citizen and son of Baptist missionary parents, was installed as rector last October. He was born in Pakistan.
- Construction on a campus center continues, with completion stretched to mid-2022 as building in Pakistan was affected by COVID-19.
One of the lessons that Forman Christian College administrators learned from the 2020 shutdown caused by the pandemic was that students who had been able in the past to pay their fees suddenly needed assistance. It’s estimated that almost one-fourth of students will require scholarships in 2021-22.
Enrollment at FCCU was up in fall 2020 to 8,492 and has risen steadily every fall since denationalization in 2003. Christians comprise 12% of the student body. Women are 41% of the baccalaureate level students, 64% of the pharmacy students and 67% of all graduate students