HISTORY

Southeastern Bible College of Birmingham Alabama was founded in 1935 through the vision of a Southern Baptist layman Edgar J. Rowe and his wife Bessie after attending a Bible conference at Birmingham's First Presbyterian Church. At the conference, they heard the well-known, fundamentalist Bible teacher Harry A. Ironside from the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois and they left, inspired to start a training school patterned after Moody and Dallas Theological Seminary. The school, recognized as a leader in the southeast, experienced over 80 years of rich history and has trained thousands of graduates who are serving in various roles of ministry throughout the world as senior pastors, associate pastors, missionaries, teachers and counselors as well as various other positions in both public and private business.

Its historical development followed a well-marked path already traveled by older northern Bible institutes, which began as an evening institute for training laypersons called Birmingham School of the Bible and evolved into a three year day-school dedicated to providing vocational training for people wishing to enter full-time Christian service. When the day school began in 1941 the name was changed to Southeastern.

Classes emphasized English-language Bible study, offering courses with titles such as Bible Introduction, Bible Study Methods, Bible Geography, and Bible Doctrine, as well as expository lectures that provided surveys of individual Bible books. Additionally, students took courses that offered practical training, including personal evangelism, missiology, and pedagogy. The curriculum also required Christian service activities such as handing out tracts and Bibles, teaching home Bible studies and Sunday school classes, and sharing personal testimonies in jails and city rescue missions.

The initial administrator, Wick Broomall Jr., many of his successors, and most of the school's faculty were graduates of Dallas Theological Seminary and decisively rooted their Alabama students in that seminary's dispensational premillennialism.

 

Wick Broomall Jr

Administrators and faculty often used Scofield's slogan, "Rightly dividing the Word of Truth," to underscore the importance of maintaining strict separation of truths assigned to each dispensation. They also emphasized Dallas Seminary's theology of the spiritual life as found in He That Is Spiritual, published by Lewis Sperry Chafer, the seminary's founding president. Using Chafer's book as a guide, faculty taught students that true spirituality demanded surrender of the will to God and openness to the Holy Spirit for empowerment and guidance. Faculty most often considered their students' progress spirituality more important than acquiring good grades.

The school was led by many well-known leaders, God blessed their efforts and the school continued to grow. In 1958, Southeastern employed 10 full-time and seven part-time faculty members; enrolled more than 500 students in its day and evening schools.

In 1962 SBC earned national accreditation with the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges and added new programs, including elementary education, to serve the emergent independent Christian K-12 school movement.

The 1980’s were difficult for most small Christian schools throughout the United States and during this time Southeastern was plagued with declining enrollments and decreasing budgets.  

 

First permanent campus on the south side of town

In 2001, the school began a slow but steady recovery under the leadership of its president, Don Hawkins, who orchestrated its 2004 relocation to newer and more functional facilities in the rapidly growing northern Shelby County. Hawkins continued to focus on the vital mission of producing graduates who are Biblically grounded, spiritually mature and culturally relevant. 

Recently President, Dr. Alexander Granados and the board of Trustees made a move that will ensure that the rich heritage continues well into the future and that graduates continue “Making a Difference, Impacting the World”.  Southeastern has merged with the with Piedmont International University group of schools led by president, Charles Petitt.  

The leaders of both universities believe that the merged school has strong potential to have far greater influence together than either school could have realized alone. A key aspect of the plan is to reopen Southeastern Bible College in Birmingham as a collaborative campus of Piedmont International University. Multiple degree options will be available through a blend of on campus and online courses. The current campus will be sold, and significant funds from the sale will be used to create a Smart Efficient Blended Campus (SEBC). By combining resources, cutting duplication, sharing academic and business infrastructure, and utilizing technology and the Internet, students will have access to quality, accredited, private, Christian higher education with ultimate flexibility and truly affordable tuition.

The Smart Efficient Blended Campus will be intentionally interactive allowing local students to enjoy outstanding faculty in face-to-face traditional classes and have the option of learning from great teachers who are connecting digitally from other locations. At the same time, online students from around the world and students on other campuses will teleconference in live to the SEBC campus in Birmingham when they want or need the classes offered there. One of the many advantages of this approach is the elimination of duplication. Instead of having two of everything, Piedmont will provide key services for the Birmingham campus through the PIU Central Offices of the Provost, CFO, Academic Deans, Seminary, Marketing, Development, Registrar, Enrollment Management, Institutional Effectiveness, Human Resources, Information Technology, Online Education, Compliance Oversight, Business Office, General Administration, Interactive Library, etc. The Birmingham campus will be free to focus on educating students and ensuring that the Southeastern heritage, culture, and name are honored and continued.

The significant savings derived from this approach will benefit students through affordable tuition, and the Southeastern Bible College Heritage Scholarship will be established offering a very significant scholarship for all SEBC students, alumni, and their immediate families. PIU will honor SEBC’s donors by establishing the Southeastern Bible College Endowment which will help fund the Smart Efficient Blended Campus in Birmingham.

Piedmont is delighted to honor the rich heritage of Southeastern and looks forward with great anticipation to what can be accomplished together!