International Ministries

UBL - Celebrating 90 Years

January 20, 2014 Journal
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October 2013

UBL: Celebrating 90 Years

News from Ruth Mooney

Dear Friends,

We've been enjoying the quaint rules that form part of the heritage of the Universidad Bíblica Latinoamericana as we celebrate our 90th anniversary:

Male students will not be permitted to date until their third year of ministry.

Third year male students will be allowed one date a week--apart from casual encounters--with a young lady.

In case of an engagement, each case will be individually studied by the faculty.


The first year women students will not be permitted to contract any commitment, engagement or accompaniment by a young man.


Women in the other years can be accompanied when they return from church in a group. Any other privilege of this nature should be requested from the women's superintendent and considered as a special permission.


Any abuse of these privileges or deficiency in studies, domestic tasks, homework or Christian conduct will be reason for suspension of the privileges by the faculty.


The institution where I teach was the brainchild of a British couple, Harry and Susan Strachan, who arrived to Argentina in 1904 with the Regions Beyond Missionary Union,with the goal of evangelizing Latin America. They quickly realized that the first step must be preparing local leaders for evangelism and church leadership. Joining with friends in the US, they formed what would become the Latin American Mission and established their center of operations in San José, Costa Rica.  

Mrs. Strachan and class 

While Harry organized the campaign, Susan set up an evangelistic training center, which began with 8 young women and, starting in the next year, 10 men. In 1923, the Costa Rican Bible Institute was opened. By the 1930s, 93 students from 13 countries had enrolled. As soon as they graduated, they were sent out to evangelize.

In 1941, the Institute became the Latin American Biblical Seminary (SBL).



Professors, 1928 

An ambitious project of distance learning was established to offer theological education to students in remote areas who could not travel to study at the seminary because of work, family, and financial limitations. Local centers (recintos) were set up to provide encouragement to the students. In 1997, the Seminary became a university and was accredited by the Costa Rican state. Two years later, it moved to a spacious new campus on the outskirts of San José.

Today, we have different rules on campus, and the faculty members look different from those in 1928, but we continue our commitment to Latin America and to the diversity of languages, ethnic groups and cultures as we offer a Latin American perspective to students from 20 countries. Instead of mimeographed learning modules to reach distant students, we are preparing online courses. Instead of evangelizing Catholics, we study and teach alongside them. The faculty is more diverse and more Latin American, but with the same commitment to transforming the continent.

On October 18, we gave thanks to God for these 90 years, with a moving worship experience followed by a formal dinner to celebrate how God has supported and guided this institution through many challenges.


In honor of the anniversary, we published Pensar, crear, actuar: Metodologías para una teología contextual, (Think, Create, Act: Methodologies for a Contextual Theology),a book with contributions from a number of professors on new theological, biblical, and pastoral methodologies, offering proposals for the 21st century.   

Thank you for your support and prayers for this important ministry.


Together with you in mission,



Ruth Mooney