United Church of Religious Science has provided formal education for ministerial students since 1972, originally through Ernest Holmes College School of Ministry. In 1996 that function was assumed by a new entity, Holmes Institute, A Graduate School of Consciousness Studies. And then, in 1997, the Institute began offering a three-year master of consciousness studies degree. In 1999 the name was changed to Holmes Institute of Consciousness Studies.
In February of 1995 the International Board of Trustees for United Church of Religious Science unanimously passed Proposal 1118, a proposal for the "Establishment of Holmes Institute: A Graduate School of Consciousness Studies". Dr. J. Robert Gale, then Dean for Ernest Holmes College, and Chief Operating Officer for the United Church of Religious Science, presented the proposal. The vision of the proposal was threefold: (1) to provide higher academic and professional standards in the accomplishment of the College's mission, (2) to give the College higher visibility and greater acceptance by the public and educational community, and (3) for United Church of Religious Science to provide a presence at the highest level for fostering its ministerial education process.
Prior to the passage of Proposal 1118, Ernest Holmes College operated under the auspices of several regional colleges. Although United Church of Religious Science offered general guidelines for the quality of the academic program and faculty, each college operated with its own calendar, faculty and regulations. The administration and direction of the colleges rested primarily with the independent regions. Over the years, the curriculum shared by the regions had become stagnant and it was clear that the curriculum did not adequately prepare graduates for the future leadership of member churches.
The leadership within United Church of Religious Science determined that it was time for the curriculum utilized in the training of Ministers to be revamped. This mission was accomplished within a cohesive academic structure with a more contemporary approach to ministry. Moreover, it was felt that the answers lie, in part, in strengthening the admission requirements of the College, the addition of uniform academic standards across the regions, creating a cohesive "team-oriented" administration to uniformly apply those standards, and by preparing and qualifying for accreditation.
Over the last five years under the DETC Accreditation, many changes and improvements have occurred. There has been an increase in the number of courses available that include: Fostering a Noble Purpose for the Individual and the Organization-Heermann, Mind in the Cosmos-De Quincey, Peace Making and Integral Church Growth-Simmons, Teaching and Learning On-line-Tillotson, The Quantum Doctor-Goswami, and Wisdom of Islam-Frager.
Video conferencing has been installed at all Holmes Institute regional campuses, and is used effectively for attendance in regional classes. It has enabled the establishment of satellite centers in Bothell Washington, Eustis Florida, and Dallas Texas.
All registration is now done on-line through Moodle. The Holmes Institute contracts with ClassroomRevolution.com to host and maintain its Moodle site. Grades are now posted in Moodle for students to review as well as kept in permanent paper files at the Holmes Institute headquarters and each regional center. Most of the student information that changes is posted in Moodle in the Student Lounge so that information can be easily and quickly updated by the Distance Dean. Students now have a Student Lounge in Moodle with a News Forum by which to communicate with each other and with the Holmes administration. All of the distance professors now use the news forums in Moodle for communication with students instead of the Yahoo groups that were used previously. Professors are also using the quiz and assignment functions embedded in their Moodle classes. The Distance Dean supports the professors in doing this, and often posts their quizzes for them. Moodle is a full e-learning environment with Wiki pages, class activities, etc. so those full functions are available to professors who choose to use them.
All comprehensive senior exams are now administered through Moodle under the direction of the
United Church of Religious Science is now doing business as (dba) United Centers for Spiritual Living.
July 1, 2008 United Church of Religious Science dba United Centers for Spiritual Living relocated the headquarters to Golden Colorado with the following move rationale: 1) Economic Improvement- the Location Screening Analysis and Relocation Feasibility Analysis both provide evidence that relocation to Colorado is in the best economic interest of the organization. 2) Centralized Location- Feedback from the Community provided confirmation that a more centralized location for the home office would provide additional support and accessibility for the greater community. 3) Permanent Home- Relocating and purchasing a permanent site in Colorado was determined to be in direct support of expanding the organization, further developing programs, and providing a permanent 25,000 square foot "campus-like" environment.
In alignment with the change of location there has been a change in Holmes Institute management. The new management team is Rev. Gregory Toole – Ecclesiastical Core Coordinator, Dr. Lynn Connolly- Director of Holmes Institute, Dr. Christina Tillotson-Distance Education Dean, and Dr. Kim Kaiser-Academic Dean.