In the next four articles, I will share with you some of my thoughts about the four ministries owned and supported by the BMA of Arkansas. I begin with this one focusing on Central Baptist College in Conway. (By the way, a wonderful weekend featuring Homecoming 2020 was enjoyed by former students from decades past as well as the presentation of the Homecoming Court and the crowning of the Homecoming Queen.)
In 1952, the campus formerly known as the Central College for Women was purchased for $85,000 by the North American Baptist Association of Arkansas, known today as the BMA of Arkansas. Now, that may not seem like much, but in 1952 it was a lot of money! That would be the equivalent of $805,500 today!
First named Conway Baptist College, the name was changed to Central Baptist College in 1962. Dr. D.N. Jackson served as the college’s first president in 1952. He was succeeded in 1954 by A.R. Reddin. Both these men were trailblazers for a young association stepping out in faith to provide a college that was Christ-centered and located in the center of the state.
The college struggled for several decades with meager enrollment and rather weak financial support. It was under the leadership of President James Ray Raines that the Harold E. Cooper Complex was constructed. It houses offices, classrooms, a band practice hall, music rooms, the Toland Worship Center and the Burgess Auditorium.
It was under the capable leadership of President Charles Attebery, who served from 1990 to 2004, that the college’s financial situation began to truly stabilize.
In 2004, Terry Kimbrow was elected president and under his astute leadership CBC continues to grow. Enrollment is nearing 900 students in all phases of the school’s educational structure. With the involvement of a great administration, faculty, board of trustees, as well as strong support from churches, individuals and philanthropic contributions, the campus has been improved with extremely nice facilities. The beautiful David Watkins Academic Building and the Story Library have been constructed in recent years.
One building that is tremendously needed is a new sports facility. With a strong and zealous base of support that should soon come to fruition. Central Baptist College is listed as one of Arkansas’ 2020 Best Small Colleges in Arkansas.
But CBC is not just about great leaders, finances, and facilities. It’s about the men and women who receive a quality education in the midst of a Christian environment. Over the years, former students of CBC have become physicians, dentists, pharmacists, professors, schoolteachers, scientists, attorneys, pastors, pastors’ wives, missionaries, BMAA national department leaders and dedicated church members.
Although the original motto has changed, CBC is still a school with Christian ideals. Because many churches urge their high school graduates to consider becoming CBC students, the Christ-like atmosphere helps direct non-believing students to salvation. Often, Central Baptist College is in a state of revival!
In her early days, CBC was considered a “preachers’ school.” Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Ministry degrees were awarded to graduates from the four-year program. In those formative years, the school awarded two-year Associate of Arts degrees to non-ministerial students.
Today, Central is a fully accredited four-year liberal arts college. And, yes, preachers and future missionaries still get a great Bible education, too!
On a personal note, my wife, Karen, and I have been involved with CBC for well over half a century. To say we love CBC would be a gross understatement. The friends we made during our student years in the mid-60s are still our friends today. That is one of the wonderful benefits of the school with Christian ideals!
Both our children attended Central, as did our son-in-law. Two of our grandchildren found joy in being students there. Our grandson graduated last year, and our granddaughter is a sophomore now. To us, Central Baptist College is a family affair!
How You Can Help
How can your church influence students from your congregation to consider Central Baptist College? One way is to invite the ambassadors of the college, the CBC Singers, to come to your church and present a concert of superb Christian music. They will sing and interact with your students. Duffy Guyton, Director of Church Relations, will speak about the college. It will be a great time for your church — and your students!
There are also special days in which prospective students are invited on campus. They will receive royal welcome and treatment! Urge your students to take advantage of those opportunities.
For some who might think that CBC is just for the religious-minded student, consider this: the school has a tremendous sports program. When I was a student the only competitive sport was basketball, but it is much different today.
Between the Mustangs and Lady Mustangs, nine competitive sports are offered: basketball, baseball, softball, golf, soccer, volleyball, track, cross-country, and wrestling. As an NAIA Division I school, CBC participates in the American Midwest Conference.
CBC is a school that has won many conference championships, as well as some national championships. As a result, many excellent athletes from across the nation and internationally participate in sports at CBC.
I was just thinking… so many of the people who are members of BMA of Arkansas churches are unaware of what CBC is and what a wonderful ministry she has provided to so many men and women. That ministry will affect their lives — and those of others — for years to come.