The founding of the General Council of the Assemblies of God in 1914 was marked by an emphasis upon the need for training ministers and missionaries. Central Bible College was established in 1922 in response to this need.
Under the leadership of D. W. Kerr, classes assembled in the basement of the old Central Assembly of God building at Campbell and Calhoun. The crowded quarters, which included only two classrooms, were soon outgrown. City businessmen contributed $5,000 for purchase of a 15-acre tract on North Grant Avenue, and construction began. With a student body of 132, Central Bible College occupied its new building, Bowie Hall, in 1924. The first class was graduated in 1925. Later, more land was acquired, increasing the size of the campus to 32 acres.
Along with establishing a fully operational campus, a solid foundation of Biblical principle and practical training was laid by John W. Welch, W. T. Gaston, Ernest S. Williams, Frank M. Boyd, and W. I. Evans as each assumed leadership roles for Central Bible College through the early years.
Adding to Central Bible College's rapid growth, three other schools merged with CBC: Bethel Bible Training Institute of Newark, New Jersey in 1929; South Central Bible College of Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1953; and Great Lakes Bible Institute, Zion, Illinois, in 1954.
The first full-time president was Bartlett Peterson who began his administration in 1948. In the same year CBC inaugurated its fourth year of course work, leading to a bachelor degree, and became a charter member of the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges.
J. Robert Ashcroft became the second president of Central Bible College and the first president of Evangel College in 1958, serving in a dual role. The 1963 edition of the yearbook said that "the desire of the President that every student who attends CBI be filled with, and manifest the Gifts of, the Holy Spirit is evidenced in the example he sets as a man of prayer and dedication." This pattern of prayer was observed throughout Dr. Ashcroft's life.
In 1963, Philip Crouch became president of the college and served until 1980. Under his leadership the name was changed from Central Bible Institute to Central Bible College. Many new facilities were added to the campus throughout his presidency.
H. Maurice Lednicky, the fourth full-time president of Central Bible College, served from 1980 until 2001, the longest presiding term to date. His pulpit ministry exhibited a style of passionate Pentecostal preaching and thousands of students were inspired by his example. During his presidency, the Zimmerman Fine Arts Center and Forest Arnold Activities Center were built to further enhance opportunities for training and student life.
M. Wayne Benson served as the fifth full-time president of Central Bible College.
Gary A. Denbow currently serves as the sixth full-time president of Central Bible College.