The president of the Eston College, Sean Stevenson-Douglas, picks up the phone with some hesitation. He is aware of how small towns talk, and how this could look. The narrative can be about leaving for the big smoke. The headlines could easily read “another hit to small town Saskatchewan as higher education finds a new home”. However, he’s the brave one in this situation as he makes the tough decisions required to push forward in the right direction.  

Mayor Goheen and the Town of Eston have already found a positive impact out of the news of Eston College moving to Regina. "If the property is sold to the right people, then it could become a tax benefit for the Town of Eston. They don't currently pay taxes because they're a church" said Goheen.  

Stevenson-Douglas and the college are doing all the hard work. They are going to actually make this happen. They’re visionaries. They’re finishing the conversation and fulfilling a prophecy that was put down on paper many times and many years ago. “The conversation about moving Eston College, which was formerly known as Full Gospel Bible Institute, away from Eston has actually been going on for about 60 years.” 

“We were founded in 1944 and just about once every decade since we've asked the question: is this the best place to execute our mission?” he asked. It was a bit of a rhetorical question as the reasons to move from Eston, a town of about 1000 people, with no major highway, or airport connecting it to the bigger centers, seemed glaringly obvious.  

Following COVID and recent decreased enrollment, they decided to move to Regina, but it’s for more reasons than just that. They are debt free. They paid off their mortgage 6 years ago. Students that come to study at Eston College tend to come from the urban areas. When you look at the changing landscape of higher education, it’s almost surprising that they stayed in Eston for as long as they have.  

“This is probably the right time for us to finally say yes to the opportunity to move to a metropolitan area. We're still uncertain of who is going to purchase and move in.” The well-maintained properties could be an entrepreneurial opportunity for someone business savvy in real estate around West Central Saskatchewan.  

Stevenson-Douglas takes a thirty-thousand-foot view. “You know, as somebody who's lived here for 11 years, it’ll be hard to leave. I have three kids in school here. It’ll be very sad.” He continued, “as excited as we are to see the vision come fulfilled that we have for the college right now Eston has been home. We love this community.” They conducted a couple town halls and have given everyone lots of notice about their intentions. That’s all anyone can ask for. 

In his time with the college, he renewed their accreditation. They are at the highest level of theological and biblical accreditation that an institution can have in North America. The degrees and certifications received at Eston College are recognized anywhere in Canada, the UK and anywhere in the US. They're a part of a network of other ABHE accredited schools in Canada, and under the leadership of Stevenson-Douglas they are in good hands for years to come. 

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