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Statement of Beliefs

The Spring Arbor University Community 

Spring Arbor University is a private, co-ed, Christian liberal arts university located in south-central Michigan. The university is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities and offers an academic program within a small and friendly community. Spring Arbor University was founded in 1873 by the leaders of the Free Methodist Church as a private academy with elementary and secondary grades. It evolved into an institution of higher learning more than half a century ago, acquired four-year liberal arts status in 1963, and today grants associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. Spring Arbor University provides a breadth of academic opportunities which enable its students to prepare for graduate and professional schools or for other productive and rewarding roles in society. The faculty is committed to academic excellence as well as aiding students in the development of all aspects of their lives. The Spring Arbor University Concept is the philosophical base for the entire curriculum. 

The Spring Arbor University Concept 

Spring Arbor University is a community of learners distinguished by our lifelong involvement in the study and application of the liberal arts, total commitment to Jesus Christ as the perspective for learning, and critical participation in the contemporary world. 

The Christian perspective in the liberal arts permeates the curriculum and the total campus community. The Christian perspective curriculum is pervasive, touching every aspect of academic life and holistically penetrating the campus climate. In addition to a bank of optional courses, three inter-disciplinary, issue-oriented core courses focus on the purpose of the Spring Arbor University Concept. The Concept is further emphasized through a variety of enrichment programs that are cognizant of and addressed to Christian perspective themes. The integration of faith, living and learning is a continuing goal of Spring Arbor University which makes it a unique educational institution. The purpose of the University is to educate the whole person. Spring Arbor strives to help its students develop into mature Christian men and women who are equipped to meet all of life with confidence. Although Spring Arbor University is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church, it is non-sectarian and more than 20 denominations are represented. The University is thoroughly committed to evangelical Christian doctrine and standards of conduct. In accepting the fundamentals of the Christian faith, the University stands unequivocally for the inspiration of the Old and New Testaments, the deity of Christ, the need and efficacy of the atonement, the new birth as a divine work wrought in the repentant heart by the Holy Spirit, the need and glorious possibility of the born-again Christian being so cleansed from sin and filled with the love of God by the Holy Spirit that one can and should live a life of victory over sin. The University advocates abstinence from gambling, profanity, the illegal use of drugs*, and the use of tobacco and alcoholic beverages. Although these expectations are not viewed as absolute standards by all Christians, at Spring Arbor University they are observed with the belief that they serve both the good of the individual and the institution, and are in accord with biblical principles. In adding new employees, Spring Arbor University reserves the right to employ:

  1. Persons who can enthusiastically support the Spring Arbor University Concept, standards of conduct and evangelical Christian doctrine as presented above.
  2. Faculty members who are oriented to the liberal arts approach to education, which is equally concerned with solid scholarship in a field of study and the connections students must make between the various disciplines; placing a value on breadth, depth and synthesis in undergraduate education.
  3. Faculty members who are intelligent, energetic, abreast of developments in their field and who can find their fullest professional development in an institution that places the highest premium upon effective classroom teaching and scholarly endeavors.
  4. Faculty members who enjoy meeting with students to discuss their academic and career goals, and participate in the planning of programs of study suited to the needs of individual students.
  5. Administrative personnel and staff who can demonstrate competence in their area of specialization and are committed to support the entire academic enterprise of the University.
  6. Spring Arbor University is an equal opportunity employer and employment shall be considered for otherwise qualified employee prospects without regard to race, color, national origin, age (over 40), gender, marital status or physical handicap, except where law allows. Notice regarding Campus Safety Report: A paper copy of SAU’s annual Clery Act safety report, which includes campus security information, statistics, and related safety information is available upon request at the Campus Safety office by calling 517.750.6621 or by visiting the office located at 106 E. Main St. in Spring Arbor, Michigan.

Spring Arbor University does not discriminate illegally on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, or disability, in admission to or employment in its education programs or activities, and complies with Title IX, with exemptions, Sec. 504, and Title VI. Inquiries concerning the application of Title IX and its implementing regulations may be referred to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, Kayla Knapp, Dean of Students, Spring Arbor University, 106 E. Main St., Spring Arbor, MI 49283 or to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. The University’s Sec. 504 Coordinator is Manda Kelly, Director of Academic Support Center, Spring Arbor University, 106 E. Main St., Spring Arbor, MI 49283.

*View the notice regarding Spring Arbor University’s Policy to Prevent Alcohol, Tobacco and Illegal Drug Use. Please read the policy in its entirety at

Statement of Faith

We believe in one God, the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as revealed in the Christian scriptures known as the Holy Bible. 

We believe that Jesus Christ is God’s incarnate Son who lived a perfect life on earth, proclaiming God’s reign and establishing a community of disciples; who sacrificially died on the cross for the sins of all people; who rose in triumph from death, accomplishing salvation for all who truly believe in him; who is now at the Father’s right hand interceding for us; and who will return to earth in victory, judging all people and establishing his everlasting Kingdom. 

We believe in the Holy Scriptures as the inspired and authoritative Word of God. It bears unerring witness to Jesus Christ, the living Word. It is the trustworthy record of God’s revelation, completely truthful in all it affirms, attested by the early church and subsequent councils, faithfully preserved and true in human experience. 

We believe that human beings, men and women equally, are created in the image of God and are called to be his faithful stewards on earth. Although all people have become alienated from God and affected in every part because of sin, by God’s grace all who truly repent of their sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are justified by faith, and adopted into the church, the people of God. 

We believe that repentance and belief in Christ are evidenced by commitment to a life of obedience to the authority and commandments of the Bible. 

We believe that the value of human beings does not depend on their marital status, but that human families were established by God to perpetuate humankind and to provide a stable community for nurturing children in faith and righteous living. Marriage between one man and one woman is the instruction of the Bible for establishing families, and physical sexual expression is to be confined to the marriage relationship. 

We believe that God not only counts believers as righteous, but that he makes them righteous; freeing them of sin’s dominion at conversion, purifying their hearts by faith and perfecting them in love by his Spirit, and providing for their growth in grace through God’s participation at every stage of their spiritual life, enabling them through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to live a victorious life of righteousness, justice and practical usefulness. 

We believe God’s Kingdom promises to establish “a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Pt.3:13 TNIV) and where resurrected believers will participate in God’s everlasting Kingdom.

The SAU Community Covenant


As an academic community, Spring Arbor University is shaped by the Spring Arbor Concept and by the stated mission that grows from it. The University is a unique community because of these commitments and because it includes both campus students and many alternative education students through its various extension sites. As an educational institution, SAU seeks to be thoroughly Christian. This SAU Community Covenant affirms the University’s Christian commitment and recognizes the diversity of its extended student body. 

As part of its commitment to Christian integrity, the University affirms the same foundational standards for students, staff, faculty, and trustees. This Covenant, therefore, includes all these groups and serves as the basis for the more specific behavioral expectations required of campus students. Persons who become members of the SAU Community as trustees, faculty, staff, or students covenant to accept and model the Spring Arbor Concept as elaborated in this Community Covenant. 

The Community Covenant includes biblical principles and Christian lifestyle affirmations which are central to our Christian identity and should be affirmed by all who affiliate with Spring Arbor University. It also includes specific community disciplines that help to create the kind of Christian learning environment desired by the University and envisioned by the Spring Arbor Concept. 

Biblical Principles 

The Bible provides basic principles for Christian character and behavior. These include the following: 

  1. Principle of LORDSHIP: Jesus Christ is Lord over all dimensions of life, thought, and culture. Jesus calls us to a life of faith and love including obedience to the moral teaching of the Bible and to responsible discipleship in all of life (Luke 9:23; Philippians 2:1-13; Colossians 1:10-23; Hebrews 12: 1-3, 13:12-16; 1st Peter 1:13-16).
  2. Principle of LOVE: Love for God and love for others are the primary motivations for Christian relationships and behavior. Scripture reminds us that “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10; Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 10:27; John 13:34-35, 14:15; Romans 13:9).
  3. Principle of COMMUNITY: Community is central to the life of the University and its understanding of Christian education. Christian love includes mutual accountability and forgiveness within the community, as well as sensitivity toward others’ needs and weaknesses. It includes participation in the worship and activities of the church, which is a necessary context for Christian living (Matthew 18:20; Acts 2:42-47; Romans 12:9-21; Ephesians 4:25, 5:15-21; Colossians 3:12-17; Hebrews 10:24-25).
  4. Principle of CHARACTER: God, through the Holy Spirit, places in every believer the inner resources to grow in Christian character and to minister to others through supportive relationships. The University community encourages an environment in which its members can grow in compassion, integrity, and the integration of faith and learning (Matthew 15:10-20; Romans 8:5-17, 12:1-2; Galatians 5:22-25; Ephesians 4:1-16; Philippians 4:4-9; 1st Peter 2:21).
  5. Principle of RESPONSIBLE FREEDOM: God gives us the freedom to live responsibly within the framework of His Word. He calls us to pursue righteousness and practice justice and mercy toward everyone. Responsible freedom includes discipline stewardship in all areas of life and critical participation in the larger culture (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15-17; Micah 6:8; John 8:31-36; Galatians 5:1 and 13-14; 1st Peter 2:16, 4:10-11).

Christian Lifestyle 

A lifestyle consistent with the above principles is expected of all members of the University community. Jesus calls and by grace assists us to practice Christian virtues and to avoid attitudes and actions that the Bible condemns as sinful. Members of the University community agree to exhibit such Christian virtues as humility, honesty, a forgiving spirit, self-discipline, faith, hope, and love. The University trustees, faculty, and staff seek to be role models to the students in the practice of these virtues. 

Attitudes that the Bible condemns as morally wrong include greed, jealousy, pride, lust, bitterness, uncontrolled anger, and prejudice based on race or ethnicity, sex, or socioeconomic status. While these attitudes are not always obvious, they are as subject to God’s judgment as are more visible sins. The Bible also condemns such behavior as drunkenness, stealing, profanity, unfair discrimination, dishonesty, occult practices, and extramarital sex. 

Responsible freedom includes respect for the sanctity of human life and faithful stewardship of mind, body, time, gifts and abilities, finances, and the natural environment. It also requires thoughtful Christian discernment in matters of entertainment and associations. 

Community Disciplines 

In addition to the moral standards prescribed in the Bible, the University has adopted certain disciplines that are intended to foster a campus atmosphere consistent with the Spring Arbor Concept and with the University’s Christian heritage. These disciplines embody such foundational Christian principles as self-control, avoidance of harmful practices, and sensitivity to the heritage and practices of other Christians and people of other belief systems. The University advocates abstinence from gambling, profanity, the illegal use of drugs, and the use of tobacco and alcoholic beverages. These community disciplines apply to trustees, faculty, staff, and all undergraduate campus students. They also apply to alternative education students, graduate students, and adjunct faculty whenever they are involved in University functions or using University facilities. 


The University seeks through this covenant to cultivate an environment in which Christian character may flourish. The Covenant is intended to promote a lifestyle based on Christian principles and devotion to Christ. It affirms that living Christianly results from conscious choices rather than mere acceptance of prevailing practices. The University’s larger hope is that the SAU community may in some measure model and point towards the kind of gracious, just, and peaceable society pictured in the biblical vision of the Kingdom of God.