New Name, Same Historical University
The Board of Trustees of Randall University and Randall Graduate School, at its meeting May 8, 2015, reached a consensus that it was time to make the proposed new name public. The university, formerly named Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College, would be renamed Randall University, a Free Will Baptist college since 1959. The new name was chosen in honor of Benjamin Randall (February 7, 1749—October 22, 1808), the founder of the Free Will Baptists in the northeastern United States during the American Revolution. This name change was approved by the Oklahoma State Association of Free Will Baptists in October 2015 and became official and effective on July 1, 2016.
Who was Benjamin Randall?
Benjamin Randall was converted during the Great Awakening as a result of the preaching ministry of George Whitfield. Randall served in the New Hampshire militia during the American Revolutionary War. The first Benjamin Randall biographer, quoted Randall’s journal in recounting his conversion experience:
"I saw in Him (Jesus) a universal love, a universal atonement, a universal call to mankind, and was confident that none would ever perish, but those who refused to obey it."
(Buzzell, John. The Life of Elder Benjamin Randel, principally taken from documents written by himself. Limerick, ME: Hobbs, Woodman, and Co. 1827)
Randall’s theological departure from the Calvinistic norm of his era occurred at the point of his conversion. Today Free Will Baptists are known for believing John 3:16 to be literally true, that God’s love sent Jesus to die for the sins of humanity so that everyone has the opportunity to respond to saving grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Randall went on to found a church in New Durham, New Hampshire that we now recognize as the first Free Will Baptist Church in New England. Randall was instrumental in planting numerous churches throughout the region. The churches were organized into quarterly and yearly meetings that became a force in the revivals of the nineteenth century, missions, and education.
Benjamin Randall is recognized as the leader of the Free Will Baptists, an indigenous American religious movement which ordained persons of color and women in the early days of the nineteenth century. The Free Will Baptists (also known as Free, General, Open Communion, and Anti-slave Baptists) were aggressive church planters on the American frontier and embraced missions among immigrant and freedmen populations, as well as, spreading the gospel internationally. Randallite Free Will Baptists were known for their opposition to slavery forming anti-slave societies, prohibiting slave owners from holding membership in the church, and publicly promoting abolition through the “Morningstar” (the official newspaper of the movement).
Free Will Baptists have founded several non-discriminatory institutions of higher education admitting men and women of different ethnic backgrounds such as: Bates College, ME (1855); Hillsdale College, MI (1844); Storer College, WV (1865); and Tecumseh College (1917), OK. Tecumseh College was the first Free Will Baptist college out of the Randall movement west of the Mississippi. The sequence of names for the institution now located in Moore, OK would be: Tecumseh College, Oklahoma Bible College, Trinity College, Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College, and now, Randall University.
For more information, please contact any of the following:
Dr. Timothy Eaton, Chancellor
405-912-9456 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Thompson, President
405-912-9453 or email@example.com