911 E. Urbandale Drive, Moberly, MO 65270 | 660-263-3900

“A Servant of the Churches”

In February 1957, a steering committee of five men met in Moberly, 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.”

  John Hall was chairman of the steering committee that selected Moberly as the site. He was also an area preacher.

In 1959 Mr. Hall was asked to become the full-time President, but he chose to remain with the congregation in Vandalia.

Central’s first campus was located on 415 North Ault Street. The three-story building was remodeled by volunteers from area churches.
Lloyd Pelfrey, Gareth Reese, Frank Watson, William C. Harris, and Dan Peterson were the first faculty members. (Harris and Peterson are not pictured)
John W. Hall served as Central’s first President from 1957-1959.

Notable Experiences

  • For two years, Mr. Hall only spent one or two days a week in Moberly to handle business activities.
  • By October 1957, the faculty members were only paid half-salary. Their preaching wages enabled them to meet their own financial obligations.
  • In 1958-1959, night classes were developed for area churches to utilize.
  • Special events were held, including the Show-Me Fellowship and banquets for men and women
  • A basketball team was started for students and area ministers.

 Key Events

  • A meeting was held in Chillicothe to establish a new Bible College in mid-Missouri. (December, 1956)
  • John Hall was named the College’s first President. (1957)
  • The new college’s Certificate of Incorporation was issued. (March 11, 1957)
  • Ault Street Campus was purchased for $17,500 from the Sisters of Loretto. (April, 1957)
  • Classes began with tuition costing $3 per credit. (September 4, 1957)
  • The Bookstore was established to serve students and churches with a $50 investment. (1957)
  • 1st Commencement Service was held. Don Stirrup received the first bachelor’s degree and Ruth Hollenbeck earned a certificate. (May 28, 1958)
The first convocation service was held September 3, 1957, at Moberly’s Municipal Auditorium. Over 500 people were in attendance.

“Moberly’s Distinctive Asset”

Central’s first full-time President began his duties on December 1, 1959. Grayson Ensign and his family had recently returned from missionary service in Jamaica.  Mr. Ensign approached the presidency with energetic thoroughness and diligent study.

The Ensign years were ones of building a quality faculty, developing Central to follow the standard model of a Bible college, and preparing plans for future campus development.

He concluded his presidency on June 1, 1966. He left to become the director of “The Bible Chair of the Southwest” at Amarillo College.

Gareth Reese, Lloyd Pelfrey, L. Edsil Dale, President Ensign, John Leinbaugh, and Norval Campbell served on the faculty.
The Cowgill Dormitory and two other houses were purchased and used for male student housing. The Harris Dorm was rented for female students, then was later donated to the College.
Grayson H. Ensign served as President from 1959-1966.

Notable Experiences

  • The Missouri Christian Lectureship was restored
  • All salaries were fully paid to faculty and staff
  • A film library was purchased in 1964 and is still available today
  • The CB (“Central Boosters”) program began to encourage supporting churches.
  • Equipment and supplies for the print shop were obtained in Chicago and installed in Moberly to produce the College’s promotional material.

 Key Events

  • Grayson Ensign was named Central’s second president (1959)

  • The original mortgage note was burned. (May 27, 1960)

  •  Professors Pelfrey and Reese helped establish the Midwest Christian College Conference  (1962)

  •  The first Minuteman appeal was sent. This fundraising group still exists today.  (December, 1963).

  •  The Men’s Banquet was moved to the local prison and attendance doubled. (1964)

  • Robert Seath became the first Director of Development. (1965)

Pillars were added to the original Memorial Building to give the building a more collegiate appearance. It later became the men’s dormitory.

“Exalting Christ and His Word in Times Like These”

Coming from a preaching ministry in Amarillo, Texas, Mr. Spratt became President and led the College’s acquisition of forty acres on Route M, where the campus is currently located.

Groundbreaking at the new property was held in 1967. Several buildings were developed there during his presidency: a cafetorium, men’s dormitory, and women’s dormitory.

Spratt’s presidency was characterized by excitement for the growth of the college. Health problems lead him to resign from the presidency to take a preaching ministry in Raytown, Missouri.

Forty acres of land were purchased for $42,500 to relocate the campus near the high school in southern Moberly.
The faculty for 1969-70 included Edsil Dale, Norval Campbell, Dan Schantz, Lynn Gardner, Gareth Reese, Lloyd Pelfrey, Jack Spratt, and John Leinbaugh.

Notable Experiences

  • Summer camp teams were added in 1967.

  • Tuition scholarships were approved for the first time in 1971.

  • Spurling Hall housed female students, but had other uses as well. The lower level contained classrooms, and the lobby had an apartment and bookstore.

  • Lang Hall housed male students on the top floor. The second floor contained faculty offices and the lower level was used for classrooms.   

 Key Events

  • Walter “Jack” Spratt was named Central’s third president. (1966)

  • Forty acres and a house were purchased on Route M for $42,500. (1967)

  • Offices, print shop, and mailroom were located in the house while the rest of the campus was built. (1968)

  •  Spurling Hall was completed to house female students. (1968)

  • Lang Hall was completed  to house male students. (1971)

The Cafetorium was constructed to be used as a cafeteria, library, and chapel.

“Where Bible and Excellence Go Together”

  During his presidency, Mr. Pelfrey worked to eliminate relocation debts.  In 1980, Memorial Hall was completed, including offices, classrooms, and a gymnasium.  Accreditation was earned in 1982, 1987, and 1992.

After retiring as President in 1998, Mr. Pelfrey became Chancellor and a teacher.  He also served as Interim President during 2005-2006.

Mr. Pelfrey continues to serve Central students as Professor Emeritus, teaching a few classes each semester.

Memorial Hall was completed in 1980. It was later renamed Pelfrey Hall.
Mr. Pelfrey regularly wrote personal notes to fthe College’s supporters.
Lloyd M. Pelfrey served as President from 1972 to 1998.

Notable Experiences

  • LMP’s first presidential act was to cancel classes Tuesday, April 10, due to a blizzard the night before.

  • Mr. Pelfrey hired Mike Hardee to be the first recruiter for the college.

  • Holiday Vespers began under the direction of Dr. Tarry Koutz.

  • Gareth Reese, Richard Koffarnus, and Daniel Schantz wrote books, articles, and Sunday School lessons used around the country.

 Key Events

  • After serving as Interim President one year, Lloyd Pelfrey was named Central’s fourth President. (April 6, 1973)

  • Groundbreaking was held for the Memorial Building (October 1, 1978)

  • Memorial Building,  (now Pelfrey Hall) was completed (1980)

  • A special 25th Anniversary Celebration was held on campus. (May 31, 1982)

  • Central first became accredited by the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges (now Accrediting Association for Biblical Higher Education) (1982)

  • The original orange carpet gym floor was upgraded to a vinyl floor as part of the Impact the New Century campaign. (1999)

Of the men pictured above, three served as President, two served as Interim President, and five served as Academic Dean.

“America’s Full-Scholarship Bible College”

Dr. Russell James served as Central’s President from 2000 to 2005.  During his presidency, the College adopted a significantly different approach to recruiting and pricing, called The Full-Tuition Scholarship, which began in 2001.  The FTS was made possible by successful fundraising, operational efficiency, and dormitory revenue.

The new program resulted in a period of rapid enrollment growth, culminating with the highest enrollment in our history, more than 525 students in Fall 2005.

Following his presidency, Dr. James has served three different universities as a professor in the areas of personal financial and charitable planning.

Mabee Foundation Hall was constructed with two lobbies to house male and female students on separate floors.
Students sat in the bleachers for chapel, while musicians and speakers were on the floor. During two years, meals were also eaten at tables set up on the gym floor. The stage was used for recreation, computer lab, and other functions.
Dr. Russell James served as President from 2000-2005.

Notable Experiences

  • Institutional accreditation with ABHE was reaffirmed in 2003.

  • The ABHE Enrollment Growth award was received three times during Dr. James’ presidency:  2002, 2004, and 2005.

  • Numerous faculty were added to accommodate the increased number of students.

  • Significant remodeling and expansion of current facilities were necessary each summer to prepare for incoming classes.

 Key Events

  • Dr. Russell James was named Central’s sixth President (2000)

  • The Full-Tuition Scholarship program was established to provide an affordable education for all students. (2001)

  • Dormitories were converted to triple occupancy to hold more students. (2003)

  • The Reese Resource Center was expanded to meet the needs of the growing student body. (2003)

  • Mabee Foundation Hall was completed. (2004)

  • Over 530 student enrolled for classes during the Fall 2005 semester. (2005)

The Reese Resource Center was constructed to house the library and bookstore. It was built debt-free with donations and grants.

“Developing Authentic


Dr. Ron Oakes became the sixth President of Central in 2006.  Dr. Oakes led the College through the process of receiving candidacy with the Higher Learning Commission in 2013.

Under his leadership, the Walton Student Center was constructed, our online education was developed, and institutional accreditation with ABHE was reaffirmed in 2013.

After his presidency ended in 2013, Dr. Oakes relocated to Ohio, where he has continued to minister part-time.

The Walton Student Center was constructed to provide a place for recreation and fellowship for students and staff.
Five men were recognized with the honor Professor Emeritus for outstanding service and longevity: Pelfrey, Reese, Walton, Koutz, and Schantz. A “Hall of Honor” was created to recognize their work with original watercolors by Twila Schofield Farmer.
Dr. Ron Oakes served as President from 2006-2013.

Notable Experiences

  • Student services were expanded to help meet the spiritual and discipleship needs of the student body.

  • An emphasis on student-led mission trips allowed for groups to work with Central alumni serving around the world. 

  • In 2008, forty students and ten faculty served in China for a week.

  • Due to the size of the graduating classes, commencement services were held at Moberly Area Community College.

 Key Events

  • Dr. Ronald Oakes was named Central’s sixth President. (2006)

  • Pelfrey Hall expansion was completed for Fall 2006 usage. (2006)

  • Our athletic teams became known as  the Saints. (2007)

  • A 50th Anniversary Celebration was held on campus. (2007)
  • The Central Alumni Advisory Association (C3A) was created. (2007)

  • Online classes were developed and offered. (2008)

  • The Walton Student Center was constructed to recognize the service of Bill and Shirley Walton.  (2010)

  • CCCB was named Candidate status with the Higher Learning Commission. (2013

Pelfrey Hall was expanded with a “West Wing” to add offices, classrooms, elevator access to 2nd floor, and a dining hall.

“Dedicated Disciples Who Know God’s Word And Serve His Kingdom”

Dr. David Fincher was named the College’s seventh President in 2014.  He previously served as Professor of New Testament and Communication and as Vice-President of Academics. 

A 1993 graduate of Central, he is the first graduate 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 included balancing the budget, withdrawing from the regional accreditation process, and updating our facilities for energy efficiency.

An advocate of partnerships, Dr. Fincher developed expanded agreements with Moberly Area Community College and Lincoln Christian University, while pursuing opportunities with other institutions as well.

Graduates serving around the country spend time sharing their memories and ministries when Dr. Fincher is traveling in their area.
The Coaches’ Court was purchased, refinished, and dedicated to recognize the men and women who have coached our court sports.
Dr. David Fincher has served as President since 2014.

Notable Experiences

  • Notable Experiences

  • Regional Accreditation site visits were hosted in 2014 & 2016.

  • Students who never attended class at Moberly have been able to graduate with a degree utilizing online education while serving in other cities and states.

  • Utilizing expense reductions, targeted fundraising, and departmental restructuring, the College recovered financial stability following several years of economic difficulties.

  • New faculty members were added to lead ministry programs with relevant creative experiences.

 Key Events

  • Dr. David Fincher was named Central’s seventh President (2014)

  • Wood flooring was purchased for the gym through an online auction and installed. (February, 2014)

  • An Online Bachelor of Science in Bible degree was added (2016)

  • C3A changed to Association of Saints & Heralds (2016)

  • Special 60th Anniversary Celebration held on campus (September, 2017)

Over 4,750 students enrolled from Fall 1957 to Fall 2016.