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. KMBC is one of six colleges that World Gospel Mission recommends on its web site.
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. 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.
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. The college recently added a Music program and the Helen Matthews Luce Chapel.
Kentucky Mountain Bible College was initially established by Dr. Lela G. McConnell and Rev. Martha Archer in 1931 as an offshoot of the nearby Mount Carmel High School. 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", 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. 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.
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, 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.
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.
Archer Auditorium was begun in the summer of 1961 and was ready for graduation classes for 1962.
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.
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.
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. The local phone company changed the prefix to another newly available exchange.
The NBC sitcom 30 Rock has referred to the college as the alma mater of character Kenneth Parcell, who claims to have received a bachelors in "television theory" and "Bible sexuality", and that the school was closed "because of the wolves".
KMBC continues to offer two degrees: an Associate's degree in Biblical Studies, and a Bachelor's degree in Religion.
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.
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, it is one of the best Bible college libraries in existence.
Kentucky Mountain Bible College remains a very missions-minded organization. Many of its graduates have gone on to career missionary service, and many of its current students engage in missions trips.