Appalachian Bible College: 1950s It Began With a Vision

Appalachian Bible Institute was founded in September, 1950 at the Independent Baptist Church in Pettus, West Virginia, by Rev. & Mrs. Lester Pipkin (from Minnesota) and Pastor & Mrs. Robert Guelich (from Pettus). The school started as a Bible training institute for the youth of the Appalachian Mountains.

  • 1954, the school was officially incorporated.
  • The school was organized as a faith mission under the auspices of Appalachian Bible Fellowship.
  • 1955, the school identified itself with the National Home Missions Fellowship, which is known today as the Fellowship of Missions (FOM), an organization of independent, fundamental mission agencies.
  • In 1956, the school moved to a 95-acre tract of land near Beckley. This was considered a special act of God, since the land was retained without indebtedness.

1960s School Receives Accreditation

The Kennedy Presidential Campaign brings positive changes to the area, which helps place the school on the map. It's a decade of tremendous expansion as a school to train servants for God's service, summer camps for children and Bible conferences for adults are all put into place.

  • In 1960, the Alpine Bible Camp started, which is now known as Alpine Ministries.
  • 1964, DesPlaines Hall women's dormitory was completed.
  • 1967, the school became an associate member of the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges (AABC).
  • 1968, the Board of Education of the State of West Virginia approved the granting of the Bachelor of Theology (Th.B.) degree.

1970s Continued Growth Fuels Name Change

The school's mission remained the same but as more and more students choose the four-year degree program, the new name provided a more accurate description of the school.

  • In 1972, McCarrell Hall men's residence was dedicated.
  • The first classroom building, Beukema Hall was completed in 1975.
  • 1976, a fourth year was added to the academic program.
  • 1978, the school changed its name to Appalachian Bible College, a more accurate reflection of expanded curriculum and academic programs.
  • 1978, State College and University System of West Virginia authorized the awarding of the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in Bible & Theology. Appalachian Bible College becomes West Virginia's first and only Bible College approved by the State.
  • Campers and conference guests enjoyed the shooting rapids of the New River Gorge.

1980s Additional Programs Give Students New Ways to Serve

This decade was a time of transition. The founder retired, a new president was inaugurated, new staff members were hired and the students were offered new opportunities.

  • In 1983, founder and first President, Dr. Lester Pipkin retired and Dr. Daniel Anderson became President of Appalachian Bible College.
  • New academic programs were introduced; a Bible Certificate program, Associate of Arts degree, Family Counseling, Camping, and Youth Ministries programs, in addition to Pastoral Studies, Elementary Education, Missions and Music.
  • 1986, the Jubilate Handbell Choir enjoyed their first foreign venture traveling throughout the mission fields of Europe.

1990s Campus Expansion Continues

The school was blessed with many financial gifts during this decade, which funded numerous campus improvements.

  • The Gilmore Gymnasium/Conference Center was added to campus in 1990.
  • 1993, Appalachian Village (a 24-unit married student housing development) was completed.
  • 1994, Alpine Lodge, an extension Ministry guesthouse and conference facility was built.
  • 1997, Anderson Hall, a chapel/music complex is added to campus.
  • Kennedy and VanPuffelen resident halls were built in 1998 and the expansion of the main campus entrance happened the following year.

2000s Doing His Work Never Ends

Ongoing renovations continued to change the look of the campus yet the founding purpose remains our passion ...Because Life is for Service.

  • In 2000, the college received accreditation status with The Higher Learning Commission.
  • The Servant Center, completed in 2002, became the new hub of student activity. This building includes kitchen, dining room, classrooms, student lounge, snack shop, campus post office, bookstore, clinic and Student Services offices.
  • 2003, the Elementary Education program was certified by the West Virginia Department of Education.
  • 2006, renovations to Pipkin Hall doubled the size of the Van Puffelen Library and made additional resources available to students
  • 2009, a multi-level residents hall, Hoops Hall, was added to the campus.

See the beauty of God's creation in southern West Virginia

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