Above: First student body in 1946
The buzz around campus, as you might have heard, is that this year marks 75 years of training and equipping servant leaders at Boise Bible College.
In the 75 years of existence, Boise Bible College has graduated over 1,000 students and its alumni are spread across the globe serving in various capacities. Through our alumni, the gospel is being advanced worldwide and our mission is being accomplished.
In 1945, Boise Bible College began in the basement of a church with only 10 students, but has grown into what it is today. Although our methods have changed as the culture has changed, but the message we share with students is the same.
We are excited for what this year holds and means for Boise Bible College. We invite you to join in the celebration this year!
Read a brief history pulled from the 1995 “50th Anniversary Celebration: Golden Book” by Boise Bible College:
“In the Beginning”
by Andy Cameron, one of BBC’s first professors
In the winter of 1944-45 when the inversion of wood smoke and fog lay over Boise, two young students from San Jose Bible College came to town to hold a revival at the First Church of Christ. The church was meeting at 18th and Eastman, and Eldon Melton, a San Jose Bible College graduate, was the minister. These were still the war years, and although things were tight, these two young students, Orin Hardenbrook and George (Rusty) Ingraham preached and sang their hearts out for the Lord. When the revival was over, Orin noted that there were few New Testament churches in the Great Basin and suggested that there be a Bible college started in Boise to provide preachers and church planters for the area. By the time the meeting was over, Orin had decided to organize a Bible college for the next year.
Two months later, Orin was in Seattle, Washington holding a revival for my church where I had been ministering since starting a small congregation in 1943. I was approached at that time about coming to Boise and becoming a professor at the College. After praying and mulling over this offer, I told Orin I would accept the challenge. It was my understanding the College would not go into debt to pay a professor’s salary, but we would come on faith and pray that the funds would be available. The business arrangement was to pay college expenses first and then divide the remaining support evenly among the teachers. This was the method followed, but it wasn’t long after I came that I realized living on these meager finances was going to be a problem. The average wage the professors received during the five years I taught at BBC was $15 per week. For additional funds we had to seek other employment at local churches, or in some cases the wives had to work to support the family. Single ladies teaching at the school received $10 per week.
Orin finished his revival obligations and moved his family, together with Rusty Ingraham’s, to Boise to begin making preparations for opening the college. He wrote letters to all the churches and anyone who might be interested in the school. He also spent part of the spring and summer recruiting young people to come to school.
The College opened in the fall of 1945 utilizing the First Church of Christ at 18th and Eastman. The church paid part of the utility bills, but the faculty was responsible for arranging chairs and classrooms for Sunday.
My subjects as a new professor in a brand-new college were church history, restoration history, apologetics, and logic. Having very few credit hours in history, I returned to San Jose Bible College to take a crash course in church history and to also brush up on my English – a lifelong need. While at SJBC I met a young lady, Lena Lee Mitchell, who had started school after my graduation. We were later married in the parsonage of the First Church of Christ in Boise on October 14, 1945.
Orin, with much enthusiasm and an even larger imagination, felt we would have a very large enrollment the first semester (in actuality only ten enrolled); so he wrote and told me to cut short my crash course at SJBC and get to Boise. School was scheduled to start the first of September.
When I arrived in Boise in mid-August I was surprised to find that Orin had recruited not only me, but Wayne Sundquist, a personal friend of mine who had graduated with me in 1943. Later Kenneth Hannaman arrived from his ministry in Sandpoint, Idaho.
We each took different subjects to teach, and as teachers we immediately began looking for extra employment because of the low salaries. Within six weeks Wayne Sundquist left the College and took the ministry position at the church in Payette, Idaho.
The second year we added Pauline Graham who taught typing, shorthand, and English. We also hired Marie Peterson as the new librarian to take a duty that I had been performing, which I knew little about. Both of these ladies took care of the mail and correspondence. In the spring of 1947 we started a conference on evangelism (what is today, Spring Conference). This conference has continued each year to this day. The third year, Orin added Edith Granger from Wyoming to be the cook at the dining hall and to teach chalk art.
In addition, the Hardenbrooks moved into one room of the parsonage and devoted the rest of the house to a dining hall for the students. You can imagine trying to maintain a home life with a small baby in one room and a house full of students. When classes resumed in 1948, we had just two Bible subject teachers remaining. Hannaman had resigned and Rusty had left the year before. So, we contacted Hervey Abercrombie at the church in Elgin, Oregon. He was a Cincinnati graduate and he came over by bus each week to teach two days with no salary. By the end of February 1949, Orin decided to leave the College, and Hervey took over the presidency and became a full-time teacher. I was the interim preacher at the First Church of Christ from February to August 1949 when Kenneth Beckman arrived from Gering, Nebraska. This long period without a full-time minister was felt to be necessary by the elders because the parsonage was being used as a dining hall and they had no other place for such a facility. The elders felt they could not expect a minister to come and live in a single bedroom like the Hardenbrooks had done.
Another change that occurred about this time was the manner in which the College was directed. Up until 1949, leadership and final authority had been invested in Orin, as the President, and the faculty members. There was no board of directors, and I felt this was not the best organizational arrangement. I persuaded Hervey and the others on the staff that it would be better for the College to be under the authority of the elders of the local church. Everyone agreed and soon thereafter our final authority vested in the elders of the First Church of Christ.”
Read more about the history of Boise Bible College in the Golden Book here.