Tag Archives: Central Bible College

97 Years Ago: Central Bible Institute Opened in Springfield, Missouri

CBC

Faculty and students of Central Bible Institute, second class, 1923-1924, in front of Central Assembly of God, Springfield, Missouri; spring 1924

This Week in AG History — September 30, 1922

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 03 October 2019

The founding of the Assemblies of God in 1914 was marked by an emphasis upon the need for the training of ministers and missionaries. Eight years later, the Sept. 30, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel announced the opening of Central Bible Institute (CBI, later Central Bible College) in Springfield, Missouri, to address that need.

Local efforts to establish ministerial training schools had been undertaken in various parts of the country. However, it was soon determined that individual effort could never hope to achieve the results possible through united endeavors.

The first ministerial training school owned and operated by the General Council of the Assemblies of God opened its doors in 1920 in the small town of Auburn, Nebraska. Midwest Bible School remained open for only one year. The school’s remote location made it difficult to attract faculty or to provide jobs for students.

Assemblies of God leaders sought a more suitable location to establish a new school. In the summer of 1922, they decided to locate the school in Springfield. D. W. Kerr and his son-in-law, Willard Peirce, offered themselves for this work. Just six years earlier, Kerr served as the primary drafter of the Statement of Fundamental Truths. Kerr and Peirce had a track record of stabilizing educational institutions and had set Assemblies of God schools in Los Angeles and San Francisco on sure footing. They moved to Springfield to form the nucleus of the faculty and management of CBI.

It was felt that the move to Springfield, the new headquarters city of the General Council, afforded this new school several advantages. Close proximity to the executive leadership would provide counsel and oversight. The Fellowship’s paper, the Pentecostal Evangel, would offer information and publicity. Ministers and missionaries traveling to the area would be available for encouragement and example for the student body.

Outside of those advantages there were few other expedient assets to offer to the fledgling school. There were no buildings or dormitories available. The Fellowship had followed a “pay as you go” policy and there was little willingness to shoulder debt for new buildings. All there was to offer to Kerr was the basement of a local church, Central Assembly of God on the corner of Campbell and Calhoun Streets, and the homes of church members who were willing to house students.

Kerr and his team set about plastering and painting the basement rooms to prepare for the influx of the first class of students, numbering about 50. They fitted out one classroom, a kitchen, a dining area, and office. Kerr admitted in the Evangel’s announcement, “While we are necessarily crowded and handicapped in our limited temporary quarters, yet we are sure of the continued blessings of God on these humble beginnings … great oaks from little acorns grow.” Kerr encouraged contributions for the young people studying for ministry as “two hundred and fifty dollars will support a student for one school year, meeting all expenses.”

Two years later, 15 acres on the northern outskirts of the city had been secured through the generous donations of local businessmen. Three of the leaders, Kerr, J. W. Welch, and E. N. Bell, knelt in prayer on this tract of land at North Grant Avenue, consecrating it to God for the “training of ministers and missionaries.”

With the funds in hand and further offerings received in response to appeals made through the Pentecostal Evangel, the first building was erected in 1924 and a student body of 106 moved onto the new campus. Adding to its growth was the merging of other smaller schools, such as Bethel Bible Training Institute of Newark, New Jersey, in 1929, with the Springfield school.

Kerr later testified that he had some misgivings whether the project would be successful, given its meager beginnings in 1922, but he felt the Lord ask him as He did Moses, “What has thou in thine hand?” He responded, “Just a basement, Lord!” He felt the assurance that the same Lord who wrought wonders with Moses’ staff would be faithful to do great things with that tiny basement school at Central Assembly of God.

The history of the Pentecostal movement can testify to God’s faithfulness as the graduates of Central Bible Institute and Central Bible College (now consolidated with Evangel University and Assemblies of God Theological Seminary) continue to provide the Assemblies of God with thousands of pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and teachers impacting the world with the Pentecostal message they were taught in the classrooms of the basement at Central Assembly, the campus at 3000 North Grant, and the current university on North Glenstone.

Read Kerr’s announcement about CBI on page 4 of the Sept. 30, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Be Filled with the Spirit” by W.T. Gaston

• “Questions and Answers” by E.N. Bell

• “A New Heavens and A New Earth” by S.A. Jamieson

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel
archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: iFPHC.org

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Amanda Benedict remembered after 82 years

Amanda Benedict Memorial Service

Participants at the Amanda Benedict memorial service (l-r): Assistant Archivist Glenn Gohr; Rev. Hubert Morris of Central Assembly; FPHC Director Darrin Rodgers; Dr. James Bradford, pastor of Central Assembly; General Secretary George Wood; Jewell Woodward, adminstrative assistant to George Wood; National Prayer Center Director John Maempa; and Archivist Joyce Lee.

Benedict Grave Stone 1

Front of marker

Benedict Grave Stone 2

Back of marker

Photographs by Sharon Rasnake


As part of the celebration of 100 years of Pentecost in Springfield, Central Assembly chose to honor one of the early leaders in the church, Miss Amanda Benedict, who is remembered as a fervent prayer warrior.

Educated in New York, her home state, she later conducted a rescue home for girls in Chicago and was connected with a faith home for children in Iowa. She moved to Springfield, Missouri, sometime before 1910 and met Mrs. Lillie Corum while working as a door-to-door salesperson. The two ladies and others began praying together regularly, and soon Amanda Benedict received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. She had a burden for lost souls and that God might bless the gospel work in Springfield, Missouri.

Sister Benedict would fast and pray for days on end, until a burden was lifted or victory came. Often, like Napoleon, she would say, “There shall be no Alps!” She had a tremendous burden that God would make Springfield a center from which his blessings would flow to the ends of the earth. At one point she felt led to fast and pray for Springfield for one entire year — living only on bread and water.

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Dr. David Allen Lewis (1932-2007), noted author and lecturer, passes away


Dr. David Allen Lewis of Springfield, Missouri, well-known author and lecturer on eschatology and Israel, passed away Saturday, June 2, 2007 at the age of 74. Dr. Lewis was ordained with the Assemblies of God in 1956 and served in the ministry for over 50 years. He graduated from Central Bible College in 1954 and subsequently earned a master of arts in theological studies and a doctorate of theological studies.

As a clergyman, lecturer, researcher, and publisher, he had been active in national and international circles in promoting the welfare of the Church, of Israel, and of the Jewish people. He felt God called him to be a Christian ambassador to the nation of Israel. And in 1975 he founded Christians United for Israel (CUFI). He also was one of the founders of the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel, and was the current chairman of the board.

He authored over 40 books, produced 39 television documentaries on location throughout Israel, and traveled to the Middle East 67 times, promoting the welfare of the Church, Israel and the Jewish people. He is remembered for his radio program, God’s Word For Today’s World, and his publications, Jerusalem Courier and Prophecy Digest, Prophecy Watch, Audio Prophecy Digest, and his Tape of the Month Service. He also operated the Prophecy Research Center and directed the Springfield Regional Eschatology Club.

Dr. Lewis is survived by Ramona, his wife of 52 years; daughters, Rev. Rebecca J. Brimmer and Rev. Cassandra Lewis Howell; two sons-in-laws, several grandchildren; and a multitude of family, friends and loved ones.

Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday, June 8 in Cornerstone Church, Springfield, Missouri with Reverends Thomas Trask and Jess Gibson officiating. Memorial contributions may be made to David Allen Lewis Ministries for the establishment of the David Lewis Memorial Research Library in Israel.

Additional information can be found in the Springfield News-Leader, June 6, 2007.

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Celebrating 100 years of Pentecost in Springfield, Missouri

Corum Farmhouse


Farmhouse where Lillie Corum was baptized in the Spirit in 1907

June 1, 2007 marks 100 years of Pentecost in Springfield, Missouri.

Just after the Azusa Street revival broke out in Los Angeles in 1906, Evangelist Rachel Harper Sizelove began writing glowing reports to her sister, Lillie Corum, who lived in Springfield, Missouri. Mrs. Corum started reading copies of William Seymour’s Apostolic Faith paper, and she earnestly began seeking and praying to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

The next May, Rachel Sizelove traveled from Azusa Street to Springfield to visit her sister and family. And in an all-night prayer meeting, Lillie Corum was baptized in the Spirit at her farmhouse in the wee hours of June 1, 1907. She is credited with being the first person in Springfield to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. And soon afterwards, the Corum family, rejected by their Baptist pastor, began holding prayer meetings in their home. This was the beginning of Central Assembly of God, the mother church in Springfield, Missouri.

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Ralph W. Harris in photos and videos

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SplashCast with Flickr photos and YouTube Video.
Produced by iFPHC

Ralph W. Harris (1912-2004)


Ralph Harris, a talented youth leader, pastor and editor, was full of the zest for life and had creative genius which helped to shape and mold the Assemblies of God for decades.

Originally from Michigan, Harris graduated from Central Bible Institute with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He pastored churches in Michigan, Washington, and Missouri. In 1943, he was appointed to establish a national office in Springfield for the Assemblies of God youth program, Christ’s Ambassadors. The next year he founded Speed the Light, a highly successful youth program that gathers funds to provide transportation for missionaries.

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Don Baldwin (1931-2007) former manager of the Couriers, passes on

[splashcast MPIC5405YB]

SplashCast with Flickr photos
Produced by iFPHC


Don Baldwin, former Couriers Quartet founder and manager, died February 24, 2007 at his home in Florida. He was 75.

Donald Edward Baldwin was born Nov. 30, 1931 in Hamilton, Ohio, and was raised in Chicago, Illinois. While he was stationed in Las Vegas during the Korean War he developed an appreciation for gospel music. When he enrolled at Central Bible Institute in 1954, then, he parlayed this musical avocation into his vocation. That year, Baldwin rallied several fellow students to form a gospel group — The Couriers Quartet. The Couriers went on to be one of the most successful gospel music groups in the late twentieth century. Significantly, The Couriers helped to shift gospel music from an emphasis on entertainment back toward ministry and evangelism. Don Baldwin — and the other men of The Couriers — were Assemblies of God boys who proceeded to impact an entire generation for Christ.

After leaving the Couriers in 1965, Don established “Baldwin Sound Productions,” a recording studio facility and the home of Hymntone Records. Many of the major gospel groups recorded there over the years. During the 1970s, he also served as an emcee of the National Quartet Convention. In 2002, Don became one of the very first inductees into the Pennsylvania Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame. In 2006 he was awarded the “Living Legend” award by the Grand Old Gospel Reunion.

A memorial service for Don Baldwin is scheduled at 1:00 p.m. Friday, March 9, at Victory Church (Assembly of God), 1401 Griffin Road, Lakeland, Florida.

The Baldwin family authorized a memorial website, which includes articles and photographs.

The Couriers were featured in the cover story for the 2007 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine. Read the article, written by leading gospel music historian Jim Goff, on the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center website.

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Review: My Life with God


My Life With God

My Life with God, by Gordon H. Matheny. Plant City, FL: The Author, 2005.

Gordon H. Matheny, long-time Assemblies of God pastor and district leader, has touched many lives in over 60 years of ministry. In My Life with God, he recounts the people, places and varied experiences from his life of service. Matheny, converted as a child in the Woodworth-Etter Tabernacle in Indianapolis, matriculated at Central Bible Institute in 1941 and went on to serve as an evangelist, pastor, district official in two states, as well as being active in mission work in over 25 nations. He began his ministry in Indiana, where he pastored four churches and served as District Secretary for ten years. He moved to Tampa, Florida, where he pastored Bethel Temple for nineteen years and served as Assistant Superintendent for seventeen years. He retired in 1990, only to be elected Superintendent of the Peninsular Florida District. My Life with God will evoke memories for those who have counted Matheny as a pastor and friend.

Paperback, 131 pages, illustrated. $10, postage included. Order from: Gordon Matheny, P.O. Box 3604, Plant City, FL 33563. Ph. 813-754-0050.

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