For almost 70 years, Carver’s Biblical based teaching has prepared servants of God to become pastors, missionaries, teachers, business professionals and church leaders to use God’s Word to reach the world and equip others.
In 1943, Rev. Solomon Randolph, an African-American pastor in Atlanta and others had been asking God to provide them with a place to study the Bible so that they could prepare for and be more effective in ministry. In response to their prayers, God brought Dr. Talmage and Mrs. Grace Payne to serve at His instruments to grant their petition.
Graduates of Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, Illinois, the Paynes first responded to God’s call to the mission field and served with China Inland Mission for sixteen years. While home on furlough, World War II began and the Paynes were unable to return to China.
Following the leading of the Holy Spirit, the Paynes moved to Atlanta, Georgia and began to teach the Word of God to individuals living in urban Atlanta. Their work as evangelists was so successful that in the fall of 1943 the Paynes established the Carver Bible Institute, a Christian institution of higher learning named in honor of the African-American scientist George Washington Carver.
The Paynes advertised the Institute’s programs in a local newspaper, and when Rev. Randolph saw the advertisement he registered as one of the first 14 students to attend the school’s night classes. The Institute opened its doors in a leased store front on the corner of Chestnut and Hunter Streets in downtown Atlanta.
Afterwards, the founders purchased property on Haynes Street and a two-story building was erected that housed the Institute. Within five years this facility became inadequate for the growing number of students and in 1952 additional property was purchased on Nelson Street which became the main campus of the school. Under Dr. Payne’s leadership, Carver literally equipped thousands of African-American preachers, teachers and missionaries with a sound biblical and theological foundation for life and ministry.
Dr. and Mrs. Payne retired in 1964, and Dr. Payne became Director Emeritus. After a life-time of faithful service to Christ, Dr. Payne went home to be with the Lord in March of 1966.
In 1964, Dr. William D. Hungerpiller became the second President of the college. Having previously served as Academic Dean, he would now guide the college for the next 28 years. Under his leadership the distinctives of the college became very evident: an uncompromising commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture, expository preaching, personal evangelism and a Christian education program in which every student was involved regularly in ministry. Dr. Hungerpiller retired from the presidency in 1992 and began serving the college as Chancellor.
Dr. Vardrey Fleming, an alumnus of the college, became its third President in 1992 and served through 1995. Having served as a pastor for many years, Dr. Fleming brought a shepherd’s heart to the presidency. Under his direction, the college experienced steady enrollment growth and strengthening of its academic programs.
In 1995 Rev. Anthlone Wade, also an alumnus, became the college’s fourth President. An academician with a passion for the ministry of the church of Jesus Christ, Rev. Wade directed the college to keep pace with the advancing educational standards in the United States. He won approval from the Board of Trustees to chart the bold course towards initial accreditation with the Association of Biblical Higher Education (formerly the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges). In 1997, the college was awarded applicant status with the ABHE. Under Rev. Wade’s leadership the main campus underwent several major renovations including remodeling the administration building, the gym and opening a new campus bookstore. A five-unit apartment complex was purchased on Nelson Street and remodeled to become Ripley Hall, an 18-bed men’s dormitory. In 1998 an athletic program was launched and the Carver Cougars men’s basketball program began their first season playing in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA).
In 1998, in order to keep abreast of the current usage of terms, the Board of Trustees changed the name of the college from Carver Bible Institute and College to Carver Bible College.