John Witherspoon College Christ Centered Education

The History of John Witherspoon College

Black Hills Biblical Institute …

John Witherspoon College traces its roots to July 18, 2004, when the congregation of South Canyon Baptist Church voted to establish Black Hills Biblical Institute (BHBI).  The vote was the result of many prayers—prayers that someday God would raise up a Christ-centered college in the Black Hills. By God’s grace, JWC is an answer to those prayers.

In 2008, BHBI trustees voted to pursue establishing a degree-granting Christian college, to be known as “John Witherspoon College.” After working with South Dakota legislators to change a law that unintentionally made it impossible to start a new college in the state, JWC moved one step closer to opening. The new law, signed by Gov. Mike Rounds on March 11, 2009, required new colleges to secure an affiliation agreement with an accredited institution. Administrators of New Saint Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho agreed to serve as the affiliated college so JWC could begin operating.

John Witherspoon College …

After purchasing its first campus building on Range Road and opening an annex at Christ Church, John Witherspoon College opened its doors for Fall semester 2012 under the leadership of Dr. C. Richard Wells. It conferred its first degree, an Associate of Christian Leadership, on Scott D. Wiggins on May 9, 2014. It achieved Candidate-level accreditation through the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) in 2015 and full accreditation in April 2017. A month later, JWC conferred its first Bachelor of Arts degree (in Christian Studies) on David Greff.

In November 2018, the college sold its inaugural campus, closed its annex, and began renting space at Real Life Church on Sheridan Lake Road. This was the first time that all personnel, classrooms, and library holdings were co-located. JWC supporters are praying for an endowment to fund procurement of a permanent campus.

In January 2019, Dr. Ron Lewis assumed the presidency of the college and in October the South Dakota Board of Regents approved an affiliation agreement that facilitates the transfer of JWC credits to state schools. In October 2021 TRACS granted JWC a 10-year renewal of its accreditation—a major milestone in the history of the college.

On September 8, 2022, Dr. John Swann became the third president of JWC. President Swann is working to grow the college and move to a permanent campus while encouraging students to follow God’s call to Christ-centered learning, living, and leading.

We praise God for His work through John Witherspoon College to provide Christ-centered classical education for service to the church and the world.

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