Columbia Bible College

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For university in Columbia, South Carolina formerly known as Columbia Bible College, see Columbia International University.
Columbia Bible College
Columbia Bible College (Abbotsford, British Columbia) logo.jpg
Type Private College
Established 1936 as the South Abbotsford Mennonite Brethren Bible School
Affiliation Anabaptist
President Bryan Born
Administrative staff
Students approx. 420
Location Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada
49°3′22″N 122°20′13″W / 49.05611°N 122.33694°W / 49.05611; -122.33694Coordinates: 49°3′22″N 122°20′13″W / 49.05611°N 122.33694°W / 49.05611; -122.33694
Campus Urban
Nickname Bearcats
Mascot Bearcat
Affiliations Association for Biblical Higher Education, British Columbia Mennonite Brethren and Mennonite Church British Columbia.

Columbia Bible College (CBI) is an institution of higher education in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. The college states that its mission is to "equip people for a life of discipleship, ministry and leadership in service to the church and community".[1] Theologically, Columbia Bible College is evangelical Anabaptist and is operated by two regional Mennonite conferences, British Columbia Mennonite Brethren and Mennonite Church British Columbia. Columbia is accredited by the international Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), and is registered with the British Columbia Private Career Training Institution Association (PCTIA).


Columbia Bible College has its roots in two Abbotsford schools that merged in 1970.[2]

Mennonite Brethren Bible Institute[edit]

The Mennonite Brethren Bible Institute (MBBI) began in the South Abbotsford Mennonite Brethren Church in 1936 and was called the South Abbotsford Mennonite Brethren Bible School.[3] In 1943, a suitable building was moved to the South Abbotsford church site and the school was renamed Bethel Bible School.[4] Three Mennonite Brethren churches - South Abbotsford, Clearbrook, and Matsqui - joined to support Bethel, which had 34 students that year. The introduction of a high school program led to a temporary relocation of Bethel to a private site in Clearbrook in 1945.

In 1946, the Mennonite Educational Institute moved its high school to a new building in Clearbrook, and Bethel returned to its South Abbotsford campus. Under the leadership of J. F. Redekop, principal from 1944, the school gained the additional support of East Aldergrove, McCallum Road, and Arnold M.B. churches.

In 1955, the Bible School Society (consisting of the six supporting churches) purchased land in Clearbrook and erected what is now the old wing of the classroom building. This became the MBBI.

In 1960, the British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches accepted the responsibility for the operation of MBBI. A record enrollment of 96 was established in 1961–62. The first dormitory was built on the campus in 1962. Increasing enrollments led to two additional dormitories: Redekop Hall in 1966 and Centennial Hall in 1967. A new wing with chapel, classrooms, and music rooms was also added in 1967.

In 1970, Mennonite Brethren Conference of B.C. and the Conference of Mennonites in B.C. entered into a five-year working agreement to operate one Bible school.[5] MBBI merged with Bethel Bible Institute, which was the Conference of Mennonites’ school, and the new school was renamed Columbia Bible Institute (CBI). To accommodate the 189 students enrolled, a new dining room/ student lounge complex was built.

Bethel Bible Institute[edit]

Bethel Bible Institute grew out of the concern to establish a Bible school to meet local and provincial church needs amongst the Conference of Mennonites in British Columbia. In 1939, Rev. N. W. Bahnman announced the opening of a Bible school in Coghlan (now Aldergrove) on the premises of the Bethel Mennonite Church. Twenty-two people enrolled in the tuition free classes at Bethel, which were taught by three instructors without pay.[6]

A society was formed which operated the school for three years (1941–1944), until the Conference of Mennonites in BC assumed full responsibility for the institute. A 4-acre (16,000 m2) tract of land was purchased in Abbotsford next to West Abbotsford Mennonite Church, and a dormitory for women was built. In 1947, the administration building was erected. In 1951–52, enrollment increased to 61 students and a dormitory for men was built. The women's dormitory was renovated in 1963. A teachers' residence was erected in 1964.

When attendance diminished in the 1960s and the facilities needed improvement, a special Bethel Bible Institute Study Conference on the future of the school was held in May 1967. After prayerful discernment and much dialogue with the Mennonite Brethren Conference of B.C. in 1968–70, the Conference of Mennonites decided to close Bethel and merge with MBBI in nearby Clearbrook. Bethel Bible Institute then became Columbia Bible Institute.

Columbia Bible Institute[edit]

The decade of the seventies was one of growth and expansion for Columbia Bible Institute (CBI). To accommodate a record enrollment of 233 students in 1972–73, four extra housing units (mobiles) were added. In 1975–76, a third year was added to the curriculum and a new record enrollment of 266 was reached. In 1976, a three-story, apartment-style dormitory was constructed. Two years later, the apartment complex was sold, and 5 acres (20,000 m2) of land adjacent to the existing campus were purchased for use as an athletics field and for possible campus development. In 1988, Columbia Hall, a three-story residence was completed. An office, administration and library complex was constructed in 1992. An Athletics Centre was built in 2001, home to the "Bearcats". It features two full size courts and seating for 1200. The Student Centre was expanded in 2004, including a new kitchen and dining room, several student lounges, a career and health/wellness center, student life offices, and a recreation room.[7] A new dormitory was completed at the end of 2011, replacing the dormitories dismantled in 2004 to allow for the expansion of the Student Centre. Redekop Hall can accommodate 130 students.[8]

Historic covenant[edit]

The working agreement between the Mennonite Brethren and the Conference of Mennonites at CBI was studied from time to time with the desire to make it a partnership in equality, not merely a partnership in operation. In 1982, this co-operative effort was expanded into a covenant whereby the Mennonite Brethren invited the Conference of Mennonites to unite in the ownership and development of CBI, not merely its operation and governance. At the June 11, 1982 joint convention, the Conference of Mennonites responded to the Mennonite Brethren invitation by affirming a continuing covenant of togetherness in working in God's kingdom. Thus, the first inter-Mennonite Bible Institute in North America was established to actively promote and teach a strong evangelical Anabaptist/Mennonite theology as reflected in the school's Confession of Faith and confessions of the supporting conferences.

Columbia Bible College Act[edit]

On June 26, 1987, the B.C. Legislative Assembly passed the Columbia Bible College Act, giving Columbia the right to grant theological degrees.[9]


Columbia Bible College offers the following degree, diploma and certificate programs:

4 year Bachelor of Arts Degrees


  • Biblical Studies
  • Caregiving and Counselling
  • Intercultural Studies
  • Outdoor Leadership
  • Worship Arts
  • Youth Work
2 year Diplomas


  • Biblical Studies
  • Caregiving and Counselling
  • Intercultural Studies
  • Outdoor Leadership
  • Worship Arts
  • Youth Work
1 year Certificates
  • Columbia One - (Certificate in Biblical Studies)
  • Quest - (Discipleship Program - Outdoor Adventure Focus)
  • Praxis- (Discipleship Program - Urban Mission Focus)
  • EA - (Educational Assistant Program)
  • LEAD (Leadership Program)

See also[edit]


  1. ^, accessed October 20, 2012
  2. ^, accessed March 1, 2009.
  3. ^ Giesbrecht, David. "Mennonite Brethren Bible Institute (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2010. Accessed September 16, 2013.
  4. ^ Born, Hilda J. "Columbia Bible College: Growth in Wisdom and Service." Unpublished, August 1992: 4.
  5. ^ Giesbrecht, David. "Columbia Bible College (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. December 2012. Accessed September 16, 2013.
  6. ^ Giesbrecht, David and Richard D. Thiessen. "Bethel Bible Institute (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2012. Accessed September 16, 2013.
  7. ^, accessed April 6, 2009
  8. ^ McMaster, Barrie. "CBC Students Sleep in Dream Residence." Mennonite Brethren Herald (1 March 2012). Accessed 16 September 2013.
  9. ^ Schmidt, George. "The Measure of Five Decades: An Insider’s Tribute to Walter Unger." Direction (Spring 2001): 5-12.

External links[edit]