John Witherspoon College

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John Witherspoon College
John Witherspoon College Seal.jpg
Motto Fides Quaerens Intellectum
Type Private
Established 2007[1]
Affiliation Non-denominational
Academic staff
Location Rapid City, South Dakota
Campus Urban

John Witherspoon College is a non-denominational Christian liberal arts[2] college in Rapid City, South Dakota. The College was founded in 2012,[3] and named after the pastor, scholar, and American Founding Father John Witherspoon. The College was created to serve both a local need for Christian higher education in the Black Hills and the broader interest for classic liberal-arts education in America.[4]


In 2004, the Black Hills Bible Institute was founded by members of South Canyon Baptist Church in Rapid City, South Dakota. Its chief instigator was Dr. C. Richard Wells, a member of the founding faculty of Beeson Divinity School, former President of Criswell College, and the Pastor of South Canyon Baptist Church from 2004–2009. The purpose of the Institute was to offer affordable, academic theological training in the Black Hills to students, including those transferred from other conforming Christian colleges.[5] In 2009, Dr. Wells accepted an offer to be the Dean of Chapel at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee and in 2011 returned to Rapid City to restructure the Black Hills Bible Institute into John Witherspoon College, where he is currently President.[6][7]

According to the official website, the college's purpose is "to glorify God as the beginning and end of all knowledge" and mission is "to build a community of Christ-centered, classics-based education for service to the church and the world."[8]

On August 21, 2012, John Witherspoon College began its first classes. The Inaugural Convocation took place on the campus on September 6 with city Mayor Sam Kooiker as the keynote speaker. US Senator John Thune was the keynote speaker of the annual ScholarShare Banquet the following Spring.[9]

For the tax year of 2012, the college had an income of about $255,000.[1]


In Fall 2014 the college announced that it had Applicant status with the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS), a Christian accrediting body recognized by the US Department of Education. The College achieved accredited status in April 2017.


The campus of John Witherspoon College is located at 4021 Range Road, collocated with BigHorn Canyon Community Church. This land was purchased by Black Hills Bible School in 1956 out of the 1200-acre holdings of the Rapid City Indian boarding school.[10] It was formerly the Abiding Word Lutheran Church.[11][12] The College library and faculty offices are located in the Christ Church Annex at 414 S. Canyon Road.

The College offers courses inside the Rapid City Juvenile Services Center for incarcerated youth who want to begin working on college degrees while serving time.[13]

Cultural events[edit]

The college also hosts cultural events, bringing performers such as Michael Card[14] and Ballet Magnificat![15] to perform in Rapid City.


  1. ^ a b John Witherspoon College Black Hills Biblical Institute NonProfit Lookup
  2. ^ "Liberal Arts? Are You Kidding?" John Witherspoon College
  3. ^ "Christian college plans to open doors next fall". Rapid City Journal. September 19, 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  4. ^ "Christian college takes nontraditional approach". Rapid City Journal. March 21, 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  5. ^ "Academic Policies Archived 2015-04-09 at the Wayback Machine." John Witherspoon College. Quote: "John Witherspoon will accept students from a Bible college accredited by The Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), or from colleges accredited by the Transnational Association of Colleges and Schools (TRACS)"
  6. ^ "New College To Open In Rapid City Next Fall"., South Dakota News and Weather. AP. 20 September 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  7. ^ "Union installs 3, welcomes 18 new faculty". Union University News. 29 August 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "The Vision of John Witherspoon College". John Witherspoon College. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "Thune featured speaker at local Christian school". John thune: Unitesd States Senator. Retrieved 3 May 2015. [permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Deals, some questionable, pepper the history of the land". Rapid City Journal. September 28, 2014. Retrieved 2015-04-30. 
  11. ^ Soderlin, Barbara (6 October 2011). "Planning commission to consider NAU move, Christian college zoning". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  12. ^ "TIF request for Mines area project heads for planning commission". Rapid City Journal. February 8, 2012. Retrieved 2015-04-30. 
  13. ^ Richards, Richie (30 April 2015). "Native Sun News: Juvenile center offers services to Native youth". Native Sun News. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  14. ^ "See Michael Card Live". KLMP. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  15. ^ "Ballet Magnificat! performs "Deliver Us"". Rapid City Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 

Coordinates: 44°04′28″N 103°17′12″W / 44.07444°N 103.28667°W / 44.07444; -103.28667