Blue Mountain Academy Staff, Alumni Celebrate 60 Years of Ministry
In 1952 a real estate agent was tasked with finding the right property for the future Blue Mountain Academy (BMA). When he found it, he immediately called the president of what was then the East Pennsylvania Conference to share the news; however, he left out one vital piece of information: the land wasn’t for sale. Two conference employees toured the 683-acre grounds in Hamburg, Pa., that held six farms, a dairy, 169 head of cattle, nine buildings, seven barns and machinery to operate the entire plant. It also included a summer camp with five buildings, a swimming pool and summer vacation cottage. Story by Caron Oswald But, owner J. Lee Bausher wasn’t interested in selling. Undaunted, the search committee voted to purchase the property as soon as it was available. Bausher’s heart softened when he learned Seventh-day Adventists were the potential buyers. His grandmother had been an Adventist. Conference leaders and Bausher signed an agreement January 1, 1953. When BMA opened in the fall of 1955, there was no heat or hot water in the dormitories and no glass in the classroom windows. Students wore winter coats, boots and earmuffs to class. But, by the end of the school year, the classrooms, dorms, cafeteria and gymnasium were finished and heated. Through the 60 years of BMA’s educational ministry, students, their families and staff have found it to be a place that facilitates life-changing journeys with God. “My dad had not worked for seven years when BMA opened,” remembers Elaine Miller Ferguson (’56), former academy business manager. She thought attending BMA was impossible, but her dad didn’t. “You are going!” he told her. “Somehow the money was always there,” she says.
John and Nancy Edison began their faith adventure as faculty in 1959. For 43 years, Nancy taught piano and organ, and John taught band, choir, orchestra and geometry. Their greatest personal growth came from the students. “The kids changed us,” they share. During Celica Galeano’s (’14) junior year, her faith and trust in God became real. A divorce shattered her family and BMA was no longer affordable. Friends and staff supported her with prayer. And, God did the impossible and allowed her to continue attending. “Sometimes I wondered if He was too busy for me, if He really cared,” she says, [But], God was providing through people in my life. He is always listening.” David Morgan (’82), principal, adds, “During its 60 years, BMA’s journey continues to be built on faith and the God-ordained adventure continues. The mission remains the same: ‘…to provide a Christ-centered Seventh-day Adventist Christian education that leads students into lives of service for God’.” Cover photo: BMA’s first students get a taste of pioneering as they attend classes in unfurnished, unheated buildings. Photo from Youth's Instructor, September 9, 1958.