In February 1957, a steering committee of five men met in Chillicothe, Missouri, and chose to start a new Bible college in Moberly. They established the school’s purpose: “to recruit and train leadership for the church at large according to the New Testament teaching.” The State of Missouri issued a Certificate of Incorporation on March 11, 1957 to Central Christian College of the Bible “for a term of perpetual years.” The first convocation service was held September 3, 1957, at Moberly’s Municipal Auditorium.
Beginning with few students and resources for support, dedicated leaders with a great desire to meet the needs of the churches worked at Central to build our enrollment, facilities, and alumni. Graduates are now serving across the nation and around the world. Central’s impact has become not merely regional, but global. Through the years, a series of dedicated presidents have led a school called by some “Moberly Bible College.”
John W. Hall served as Central’s first president, from 1957 to 1959. Mr. Hall was a minister at First Christian Church in Vandalia, Missouri, and was charged with the task of setting the College in order. He selected the first faculty of five men, two of whom still teach for the College: Lloyd M. Pelfrey and Gareth L. Reese.
Grayson H. Ensign succeeded Hall and made improvements in the administrative and bookkeeping procedures that moved towards a more collegiate model. In addition, he was able to eliminate the first mortgage as well as purchase other property to provide room for expansion. Mr. Ensign served as president from 1959 to 1966.
Walter “Jack” Spratt served as President from 1966 to 1972. He led the College’s acquisition of forty acres on Urbandale Drive, where the campus is currently located. Several buildings were developed during that time, including a Cafetorium (a combined cafeteria, library, and assembly area) and men’s and women’s dormitories, which also housed classrooms.
Lloyd M. Pelfrey has filled many roles at Central since coming to Moberly in 1957. He was Professor of Old Testament and Academic Dean until 1972, when he became President. During his presidency, Lloyd worked to eliminate construction debts. In 1980, Memorial Hall was completed, including offices, classrooms, and a gymnasium. It was later renamed Pelfrey Hall. Accreditation was earned in 1982, 1987, and 1992 with the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges (now the Association for Biblical Higher Education). After retiring as President in 1998, Mr. Pelfrey returned to teaching. He also served as Interim President from 2005-2006. Mr. Pelfrey continues to serve Central students as Professor Emeritus, teaching a few classes each semester. He also served as the Interim Minister at Moberly’s Central Christian Church during 2014.
Dr. Russell James served as Central’s President from 2000 to 2005. Dr. James led the College’s transition to the Full-Tuition Scholarship with careful planning and successful fundraising. This contributed to a period of rapid growth, culminating in the highest enrollment in the institution’s history. During his presidency, a new residence hall was constructed and the existing facilities were renovated and expanded. ABHE accreditation was also reaffirmed in 2003.
Dr. Ron Oakes became the sixth President of Central in 2006. He led our pursuit of regional accreditation, resulting in candidate status in 2013 with the Higher Learning Commission. Under his leadership, the Walton Student Center was constructed, online
education was developed, and ABHE accreditation was reaffirmed in 2013. Dr. Oakes started as a professor in 2004 and was President until 2013.
Dr. David Fincher was named the College’s seventh President in 2014 and continues to hold that position. He previously served 5 years as Professor of New Testament and Communication and 12 years as Vice-President of Academics. A 1993 graduate of Central, he is the first alumnus to serve as a president, and has focused on connecting with his fellow alumni, defining the institution’s vision, and implementing the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan. This focuses the College’s work on three key themes: Recognized Excellence, Creative Experiences, and Online Expansion.
Extending to Cincinnati Christian University
In October 2019, Cincinnati Christian University (CCU) announced a new relationship with Central Christian College of the Bible (CCCB). This followed the decision by the CCU Trustees to withdraw from Higher Learning Commission accreditation following the Fall 2019 semester. In Spring 2020, CCCB opened an extension site in Cincinnati to provide accredited ministerial degrees in the region. At the same time, CCU worked together with CCCB to serve more congregations and ministry leaders through the Center for Church Leadership (CCL).
Merging with St. Louis Christian College
In October 2021, trustees of Central Christian College of the Bible (CCCB) and St. Louis Christian College (SLCC) approved a formal merger of their institutions for the purpose of raising up many more future leaders for Kingdom ministry in new and affordable ways. This merger was completed with the assistance and approval of the Solomon Foundation, the owner of both campuses. The Missouri Secretary of State accepted the Merger Agreement on December 5, 2022, completing a process that began in August 2021. The merged institution is legally known as Central Christian College of the Bible, offering programs in the traditional service areas of both colleges.