Maranatha’s history is that of an institution committed to the principles on which it was founded—the truth of God’s Word and an adherence to Baptist distinctives that set it apart from other Christian Universities.
From a spiritual perspective, Maranatha’s theological position and local church emphasis are historically vital. From an academic perspective, regional accreditation and the wide scope of its programs have offered University graduates nearly unlimited career and ministry opportunities.
“I want parents and students to know we will stay true to our foundation, to the fundamentals of the faith that are as important to them as they are to us,” University President Dr. Marty Marriott said. “We will always be Baptist, biblical, dispensational, and evangelistic. We will always emphasize the local church. Those are non-negotiables. There aren’t going to be sudden shifts in what we believe or how we apply those beliefs. We’re going to stay the course that has been laid out for us over the last 40 years.”
That course began in 1968, when Maranatha was established by Dr. B. Myron Cedarholm and his wife, Thelma.
The Cedarholms helped raise $150,000 to purchase a campus now valued at $18 million from the Brothers of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. Watertown resident Elayne Senn first phoned Cedarholm to suggest he consider the grounds of the former Sacred Heart Military Academy.
The first payment was made June 1, 1968. The College opened just three months later, on September 10, with 173 students and 27 faculty members. Maranatha awarded degrees to 13 students on May 31, 1969.
The academic offerings, fine arts options, and intercollegiate athletic programs all expanded greatly under Cedarholm, who remained president until 1983. Many of the present campus buildings were constructed, including seven of the 10 dormitories and the Gymnasium.
The 1980s and 1990s saw Maranatha achieve financial stability as well as fall enrollment that began to grow nearly every year. No fewer than 39 different building and remodeling projects, including the Cedarholm Library and Research Center, were completed between 1983 and 1998. Maranatha also earned regional accreditation in 1993, a pivotal moment in the University’s academic history.
Enrollment continued to grow during the first decade of the 2000s, surpassing 900 students in the fall of 2004. The newest major building on campus, the Dining Complex, opened in the fall of 2005. The Global Encounters missions program began in 2006. The later part of the decade saw the addition of Maranatha Online and Maranatha Baptist Seminary.
Recent years have also included some significant events. The largest institutional scholarship programs in University history, the Bible and Church Ministries Scholarship and the Teacher Education Scholarship, have been implemented. The Army ROTC chapter, established in 2006, has grown from six cadets to a record 30 in 2011-12.
In December of 2013, Maranatha announced its official name change to Maranatha Baptist University, reflecting the academic quality and variety that it had in place for several decades. In March of 2014, the University’s new branding and mascot–the Sabercat–were released in a special ceremony.
Current students remain as committed to God’s work as those who preceded them. Our most recent alumni survey indicates that 92 percent of our graduates are actively involved in local church ministry. God has blessed and sustained a school that remains true to its mission—to develop leaders for ministry in the local church and the world “To the Praise of His Glory.”