For almost 74 years, Carver’s biblically 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 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 set down roots in 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 great 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. W. D. Hungerpiller became the second President of the college. Having previously served the college 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.
In 2000, after serving as Interim President for a year, the Board of Trustees elected Rev. Robert W. Crummie as the fifth President of the college. Rev. Crummie revitalized the college’s global missions efforts resulting in over 100 students participating in short-term overseas missions projects. He directed the college through the second phase of accreditation and after meeting ABHE’s requirements (including securing three full-time faculty with appropriate degrees, a credentialed librarian and putting a broader, well-defined administrative structure in place) the college achieved candidate status with ABHE in 2001. In the same year, Carver gained listing in the U.S. Directory of Higher Education for the first time. In 2002, the McNeal House was renovated and housed the offices of the President and Advancement Affairs. In 2003, the men’s and women’s dormitories underwent major renovations. In 2004, a new men’s dormitory, Ripley Hall was dedicated and began housing students at the beginning of the Spring 2005 semester. In 2005, the college made significant strides to strengthen its academic offerings of the biblical languages. In this same year, a new 1,800 square foot bookstore was erected facing Northside Drive aiming to serve the campus and the community. Also in 2005, the athletic program expanded to include a golf team which will also play in the NCCAA.
In February 2006, Carver completed a 9 year journey to accomplish full accreditation with the Association for Biblical Higher Education, an accrediting agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education.
By June 2006, after decades of enjoying much fruitfulness on the Nelson Street campus, God enabled Carver to enlarge its footprint from 2 ½ acres to 16 acres on Cascade Road in Southwest Atlanta and added twelve classrooms, a fine arts center, a baseball/soccer field and a collegiate size gymnasium.
In the fall of 2009, the college changed its name from Carver Bible College to Carver College. The name change does not lessen Carver’s commitment to biblical truth; it simply reflects our desire to broaden our influence for Christ by adding additional majors and allowing the Holy Spirit to have more options with our graduates.
Other milestones include: (1) Carver securing Title IV funding in January 2010, (2) accessing Financial Aid for every single eligible student, (3) ABHE reaffirming Carver’s accreditation for ten years in February 2013, (4) in June 2013 ABHE approving the major substantive change request for Carver to initiate the Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, (5) in June 2014 ABHE approving the major substantive change request for Carver to initiate the Bachelor Science degree in Business Administration, (6) and in July 2015 ABHE approving the major substantive change request for Carver to initiate the Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education.
Carver’s students have always been among the best and brightest emerging leaders from the African-American community in Atlanta, the U.S. and even as far away as the Caribbean and Africa. In addition, over half of Carver’s students are current pastoral and lay leaders in African-American churches in Atlanta.
Currently, Carver has hundreds of graduates serving the body of Christ worldwide, including former students like Emeka Okoli, professor of communications at Norfolk State University, Norfolk, VA, Dr. Shauna Leigh, President of Midland Bible Institute, Jamaica, WI Arthur Deal a missionary in Brazil, Vic Russell, Senior Pastor, St. Matthews Baptist Church, Vacaville, CA, Jerry Jones, a probation officer in New York, NY, Rev. Rickey Jones, Pastor of Greater Elizabeth Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA, Rev. Tony Mosely, pastor of Woods Memorial Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA, John Zeller, president of Tanner’s Big Orange restaurant in Greenville, SC, Marci Garner, a 5th grade school teacher in Nashville, TN, Rev. Jean Thomas a pastor and Bible Institute President in Haiti, Jose Alvarez, a successful businessman in Atlanta, GA, Tony Van Dyke a prolific writer and author in Atlanta, GA, Dr. Tony Evans, Senior Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and founder and president of The Urban Alternative in Dallas, TX, and Arthur Alard, President , Alathea Bible College, Siyabuswa, South Africia; these are just a few Carver alumni fulfilling the Great Commission.
Our vision is to continue equipping scores of ethnic and minority men and women to live, apply and teach biblical truth such that communities, cultures and even entire nations are impacted and transformed for Christ for generations to come.