Kentucky Mountain Bible College

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Kentucky Mountain Bible College
Kentucky Mountain Bible College logo
Former names
Kentucky Mountain Bible Institute, Vancleve Bible School
MottoTraining Holiness Leaders
AffiliationKentucky Mountain Holiness Association
PresidentDr. Philip Speas, B.A., M.Div., D.D.
Vice-presidentThomas H. Lorimer, B.A., M.A., M.Ch.M.
DeanJames Nelson
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,

37°36′13″N 83°26′20″W / 37.60356°N 83.43894°W / 37.60356; -83.43894Coordinates: 37°36′13″N 83°26′20″W / 37.60356°N 83.43894°W / 37.60356; -83.43894
Student-faculty ratio6 to 1
ColorsPurple and White          
AffiliationsKentucky Mountain Holiness Association, Mount Carmel High School, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
Kentucky Mountain Bible College : Holiness Unto the Lord

Kentucky Mountain Bible College (KMBC) is a four-year evangelical Christian Holiness Bible college in Vancleve, Kentucky. The college is located near the town of Jackson in Breathitt County, and is a ministry of the Kentucky Mountain Holiness Association.

Its catalog states that over 70% of KMBC's graduates have entered Christian ministry, including speakers, missionaries, and pastors in over 60 countries worldwide.[1][3] KMBC is one of six colleges that World Gospel Mission recommends on its web site.[4]

Part of KMBC's mission is to keep their program affordable to anyone who wishes to attend, with 2010 tuition of $3,355 per semester.[2] KMBC was ranked 10th by an InsideCollege review of colleges for student acceptance. In an article titled "Colleges Students Don't Turn Down", InsideCollege found that 83.9% of students who are accepted to KMBC enroll.[5]

In a 2009 re-accreditation, the Association for Biblical Higher Education found Kentucky Mountain Bible College to be performing well in the areas of finances, academics, facilities, student services, and in fulfillment of mission.[6] The college recently added a Music program and the Helen Matthews Luce Chapel.


1931-1939: Origins and destruction of first campus[edit]

Kentucky Mountain Bible College was initially established by Dr. Lela G. McConnell and Rev. Martha Archer in 1931[7] as an offshoot of the nearby Mount Carmel High School.[8] Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Pelfrey donated the land, which had been at one time used by a defunct coal mining company as a commissary, approximately three miles from the present site. Because of the "young people with the call of God upon them" who "felt the need of further training beyond the high school work in order to fit them better for missionary work",[8] the Kentucky Mountain Bible Institute, signed as the "Vancleve Church School," was established in order to train young people from the Appalachian foothills of Eastern Kentucky in the areas of ministry and missions.

After the remodeling of the commissary, Kentucky Mountain Bible Institute (KMBI) opened in October, 1931 with Miss Martha Archer as its first principal and teacher, Miss Lela McConnell as a second teacher, and just two students. KMBI initially offered a two-year Bible course. After the first semester, additional faculty and students were added.[8] A men's dormitory was completed in 1937. In 1938, KMBI expanded to a three-year program which included practical studies. The program was a full Bible course offering theology, psychology, ethics, church history, English, speech, Greek, homiletics, instrumental music, and vocal music.

On February 5, 1939, heavy snow and rains caused the river to rise and back up, flooding KMBI's buildings. The bridge that connected KMBI with Mount Carmel had also been washed away. Although the WPA appropriated funds to rebuild the bridges, KMHA workers rebuilt their own bridge within 6 weeks. The other bridges remained closed for almost two years.[8]

At 3:30 am on July 5, 1939 a cloudburst on Frozen Creek caused a flash flood that destroyed the original school, as well 44 nearby homes, 60 barns, livestock, and killed 54 men and women,[9] including several KMBI students and faculty. The effort to recover and bury bodies lasted for weeks, with one student being found 50 miles downstream. This was the first flood on record that had come rushing down the river, as the other floods had been backups which were mostly still water. Both of KMBI's buildings, the old commissary and the dormitory, were destroyed. Of the buildings' sixteen occupants, nine drowned. These included staff member Mr. Horace Myers, his three children Titus, Philip, and Lela Grace, students Elsie Booth and Christine Holman, and three guests of the Myers. Mrs. Myers alone survived her family.

1939-1948: Second campus and rebuilding[edit]

On 20 October 1939, three and a half months after the flood, the school re-opened at a new site donated by Mr. and Mrs. Fred Fletcher, and his sister, Laura. Located on a hill and above the flood plain, the new three-acre campus featured only a half-finished building with 18 students when it opened. This building was developed into the modern Administration building and girls' dorm. Growth and building continued at a feverish pace, starting with the Myers Chapel in 1940, named for the drowned teacher who had given of himself to KMBI. Swauger Hall was constructed right before Brengle Hall, and by 1945, the campus was well-developed.[10]

1948-1970: Continued expansion[edit]

Archer Auditorium was begun in the summer of 1961 and was ready for graduation classes for 1962.

1970-1981: The Paulo years[edit]

1981-1993: Dr. Eldon Neihof and Accreditation[edit]

In 1989 Candidate Status was granted for institutional accreditation with the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges (now Association for Biblical Higher Education). In 1994, KMBC was granted membership with AABC.[11]


With the recognition as an accredited school by the AABC, KMBC began offering a four-year B.A. Degree in Religion along with a two-year A.A. Degree in Bible/Biblical Studies.

Several facilities including the Davis Memorial Building, which serves as a library, the renovation of the basement in Brengle Hall, the addition of the Coffeehouse underneath Swauger, and the new Helen Matthews Luce Chapel. Its fourth president, Dr. Philip Speas, has been president since 1993.[12]

Recent news[edit]

In 2003, the college objected to a phone number it had been assigned with the prefix 666, which is associated in Christian tradition with Satan.[13] The local phone company changed the prefix to another newly available exchange.[14][15]

The NBC sitcom 30 Rock has referred to the college as the alma mater of character Kenneth Parcell,[16] who claims to have received a degree in Television Studies with a minor in Bible Sexuality, but that the school was closed "because of the wolves".


KMBC continues to offer two degrees: an associate degree in Biblical Studies, and a bachelor's degree in Religion.[17]


The campus of Kentucky Mountain Bible College is located on a hilltop off of Kentucky route 541 in Vancleve. There have been numerous additions in recent years, the most recent of which is the Helen Matthews Luce Chapel & Fine Arts Building.

Gibson Library[edit]

The Gibson Library is housed in the Davis Memorial Building. Consisting of over 30,000 items including books, CDs, DVDs, videos, sheet music, song flashcards, and Sunday school supplies,[18] it is one of the best Bible college libraries in existence.[6]

Student Life and Events[edit]

Recreation in the area includes hiking, rock climbing, canoeing, and other outdoor activities.

A student-led social committee organizes social events throughout the school year.

The Thursday dinner on campus is a formal event involving speeches, music, fine arts or entertainment. Student attendance at this meal is mandatory.

Most campus events require mandatory attendance of all students. This includes all commencement activities and chapel events

Chapel takes place at Kentucky Mountain Bible College four times per week (Tuesday-Friday). Student attendance is mandatory and failure to attend may result in a monetary fine. In addition to chapel, undergraduate students are required to choose a local church to attend every Sunday[19].

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Gwen Pinkerton, 1980 - OMS Missionary to Ecuador and Brazil[20]
  • Dr. Philip Speas, 1979 - President, Kentucky Mountain Bible College[21]
  • Dave Shaferly, Director, Emmaus Bible College; OMS Construction Coordinator, Haiti Mission; Field Director, OMS Haiti[22]
  • Larry Byrnes, 1962 - Professor of Nursing, Roberts Wesleyan College; OMS Missionary to Ireland and Indiana; OMS Campus Rep[23][24]
  • Dr. J. Eldon Neihof, 1956 - Asbury University 1989 A Award recipient; Kentucky Mountain Holiness Association president; Kentucky Mountain Bible Institute president[10][25]
  • Rev. David Crane, 1950 - Free Methodist minister and architect; has drawn plans for over 160 churches including the Helen Matthews Luce Chapel at KMBC and supervised construction on over 25.[26]
  • Lois M. Henry, Asbury University 1998 A Award Recipient; WGM missionary to Costa Rica and Honduras[27]
  • Jeff Snyder, 2000 - Southern Gospel Singer for The Bowling Family and The Greenes; Worship Leader for Valley Forge Church in Elizabethton, TN [28]


  1. ^ a b Kentucky Mountain Bible College. "KMBC 2010-2011 Academic Catalog" (PDF). Kentucky Mountain Bible College. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Kentucky Mountain Bible College - Best College - Education - US News". Best Colleges 2011. US News & World Report. 2010. Archived from the original on 6 November 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  3. ^ "Indian Springs Holiness Camp Meeting - Links". Indian Springs Holiness Camp Meeting. Archived from the original on 18 March 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  4. ^ "World Gospel Mission - Education Links". World Gospel Mission. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  5. ^ "Colleges Students Don't Turn Down". Wintergreen Orchard House. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  6. ^ a b "A Time to Celebrate!" (PDF). The Silver Trumpet: Fall '09. Kentucky Mountain Bible College. Fall 2009. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  7. ^ Kinnell, Matt. "Asbury University - Lela G. McConnell". Asbury University. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d McConnell, Lela G. (May 2005). The Pauline Ministry in the Kentucky Mountains or a Brief Account of the Kentucky Mountain Holiness Association. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-4191-4651-0.
  9. ^ "Fifty-four Died In Raging Torrent In Breathitt Co. In 1939". Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  10. ^ a b Royal Feltner. "Mt. Carmel H.S, Vancleve. Ky". Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  11. ^ "The Association for Biblical Higher Education - Directory". The Association for Biblical Higher Education. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  12. ^ "KMBC: Faculty". Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  13. ^ "Bible college shuns its 666 phone number". Charleston Daily Mail. 18 January 2003. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  14. ^ "National Briefing - South: Kentucky: Bible College Drops '666' Prefix". The New York Times. 1 March 2003. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  15. ^ "Now This Is Just Plain Funny!: Bible School's Devil of a Problem". Charisma News Service. 22 January 2003. Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  16. ^ "Kenneth Parcell (Character) - Quotes". imdb, The Internet Movie DataBase. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  17. ^ "Programs of Study". Kentucky Mountain Bible College. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  18. ^ "KMBC: Library". Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  19. ^ "Student Handbook" (PDF).
  20. ^ "Gwen Pinkerton". One Mission Society.
  21. ^ "From the President". Kentucky Mountain Bible College.
  22. ^ "Marilyn and Dave Shaferly". One Mission Society.
  23. ^ "Lawrence Byrnes". Mount Carmel Former Students Association. Archived from the original on 2011-07-27.
  24. ^ "Marian and Larry Byrnes". One Mission Society.
  25. ^ "J. Eldon Neihof, Asbury University 1989 A Award Recipient". Asbury University. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  26. ^ "Talented and Generous Alumnus" (PDF). Silver Trumpet. Kentucky Mountain Bible College. Fall 2009. p. 1.
  27. ^ "Lois M. Henry - 1998 A Award Recipient". Asbury University.
  28. ^ "Our Staff". Valley Forge FWB Church. Valley Forge FWB Church. Retrieved 16 February 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ruelas, Abraham (June 2010). Women and the Landscape of American Higher Education: Wesleyan Holiness and Pentecostal Founders. Wipf & Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1-60608-869-2.
  • Husbands, Mark; Timothy Larsen (March 2007). Women, Ministry and the Gospel: Exploring New Paradigms. IVP Academic. ISBN 978-0-8308-2566-0.*McConnell, Lela G. (May 2005). The Pauline Ministry in the Kentucky Mountains or a Brief Account of the Kentucky Mountain Holiness Association. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-4191-4651-0.
  • Wireman, Rev. C. L. Kentucky Mountain Outlaw Transformed. El Dorado Springs, MO: Witt Printing Co.
  • McConnell, Lela G. (1952). The power of prayer plus faith.
  • McConnell, Lela G. (1952). Rewarding Faith Plus Works.
  • McConnell, Lela G. (1950). Faith Victorious in the Kentucky Mountains. Edonomy Printing Concern Inc.
  • McConnell, Lela G. (1949). Hitherto and Henceforth in the Kentucky Mountains: A Quarter of a Century of Adventures in Faith - The Year of Jubilee.

External links[edit]