Dennis had a front row seat researching and recording the initial steps that launched Chi Alpha in 1953. He
was privileged to observe the development into a major student movement on campuses in the U.S. and globally into the twenty-first century.
Chi Alpha began when a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Calvin Holsinger, was invited to teach history at a local college in Springfield, Missouri. He taught Sunday school for college students at Central Assembly of God and made himself available to the Assemblies of God Southern Missouri District and the AG National Youth Department to initiate ministry with students at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University). The district made him a chaplain and, along with a handful of students, he formed the first Chi Alpha group in 1953.
The first national college youth representative (CYR), Lee Shultz, was appointed in 1963. Three more CYRs—Russ Cox, Rick Howard, and Jerry Sandidge—served during the decade. In 1967 Minnesota appointed the first district Chi Alpha representative (DXAR) in the nation with more to follow in other districts. This role was important in Chi
Alpha’s development in the years ahead. By the end of the 1960s, 78 local campus groups were chartered.
The unrest on campuses began to subside as the Jesus Movement and Charismatic Renewal spread nationwide. Student ministry flourished as collegians’ lives were transformed in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Dave Gable was appointed the fifth national CYR in 1971 and recognized this era as a seminal period of youth action. He introduced the Student Activist Leadership Training (SALT) conferences in 1972 to equip thousands of students for ministry on campus.
Most Chi Alpha groups were student-led, but campus ministers became a part of the landscape. In 1976 the Institute of Campus Ministry (ICM) was introduced to train prospective campus ministers. In 1977 the first Campus Ministers Conference (CMC) was held for campus and district leaders with an attendance of 86.
That year, seven leaders, affectionately known as the “San Antonio Seven,” met to write a present-day philosophy to unify campus ministry across the nation. Drawing upon Acts 2:42-47, the four-fold Chi Alpha philosophy emphasized being a community of worship, fellowship, discipleship, and witness on campus.
Dennis Gaylor was appointed the sixth national Chi Alpha leader in 1979.
In 1980, to be official with Chi Alpha, chartering was required. Additionally, at the beginning of the decade, Chi Alpha launched its international student ministry.
In 1986, a strategic study was done to recognize Chi Alpha as missions that resulted in restructuring Chi Alpha as a department in Assemblies of God U.S. Missions. This watershed moment recognized Chi Alpha personnel as missionaries and created opportunities to advance the ministry on more campuses. Recent graduates and former student leaders in Chi Alpha increased and became campus ministers.
Training for new staff in the 1980s included ICM and the Campus Missionary-in-Training (CMIT) internship program. Receiving ministerial credentials with the AG became a prerequisite to become a Chi Alpha campus minister. The role of the campus minister specialist had arrived.
Chi Alpha was recognized as missions in the 1990s. A national wave of prayer was launched on the eve of the 1990s at the sixth National SALT.
Chi Alpha’s first national staff team with three national field personnel formed in 1990 and by the end of the decade, the director and four resident missionary couples led Chi Alpha. Resident staff increased Chi Alpha’s
capacity to lead and resource its workers.
With growth in program and personnel, Chi Alpha was given permission to move out of the main AG building in 1992 to larger facilities. Operating from off-site offices for 17 years was beneficial.
In 1993, new core values and a vision statement were articulated.
National missionary appointment of local campus ministers grew steadily during the decade. By 1996, there were 200 chartered Chi Alpha groups.
All views expressed on this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, U.S.A., U.S. Missions, and The General Council of the Assemblies of God.