Evangelical Higher Education in Maine:
A History of New England Bible College & Grace Evangelical Seminary
New England Bible College and Grace Evangelical Seminary is a union of two institutions of Christian higher education dedicated to serving the leadership needs of churches from southern Maine to mid-Maine and beyond.
NEBC was founded in 1959 as Glen Cove Bible School under the leadership of President Harold Duff to prepare men and women for Christian service. At that time the school, an affiliate of Christian Schools Inc., was denominationally unrelated, cooperating with all denominational and independent bodies that were in sympathy with its objectives and its doctrinal position.
The facilities of Christian Schools, Inc. were located on the shores of Penobscot Bay in the village of Glen Cove, Maine. The campus, on 64 acres of woods and fields, included an administration and classroom building, a gymnasium, a dormitory and sports fields. Recognizing the need for exposure to certain disciplines of general education, a four year college curriculum was initiated along with its three year Bible institute program. In the spring of 1973 the four year program was granted college status by the Maine legislature, and Glen Cove began to award the Bachelor of Religious Education degree. To reflect the new status, the name was changed to Glen Cove Bible College. A one year program of intensified Bible and Theology was also added to the curriculum of studies offered.
In 1979 Christian Schools, Inc. became insolvent and GCBC was forced to close its doors. However, permission was sought from the state to reopen the school with a new name in a new location. Renamed New England Bible College, the college opened its doors in January 1980 in Portland, Maine under the leadership of Dr. Jack Christensen. In 1984 Edward Hales became the new president, and the college was moved to larger facilities at the First Baptist Church of South Portland.
Dr. Carll Grathwohl became the president of NEBC in 1987 and the first to serve again on a full-time basis. During the presidency of Rev. William E. Inman NEBC began to offer BA and BS degrees in 1997, replacing the BRE program. The curriculum also underwent revision as plans were laid for several new majors; the first, in Missions, was launched in 2001, and others were later added.
Rev. Richard Francis became president in January 2007. During the early years of his tenure, NEBC experienced solid growth in student numbers and graduates. But changes in the cultural and religious landscape also brought new challenges. Faced with the school’s closure, President Francis approached Grace Evangelical, Inc. to ask if it would assume responsibility for continuing NEBC’s educational mission, which it did in 2015. Grace Evangelical College and Seminary, based in Bangor, Maine, offered both undergraduate and graduate level theological education. But now its undergraduate program operates under the name of New England Bible College, while its graduate program operates under the name Grace Evangelical Seminary.
So even though NEBC is now a subsidiary of Grace Evangelical, we continue to share the former’s dedication to faithful and quality education in preparing students for ministry throughout the state of Maine and beyond. And the now shared identity of NEBC/Grace Evangelical remains first and foremost Christian, serving all expressions and denominations of the evangelical church of Jesus Christ. The school seeks partnership with leaders and members of all such Christian churches and looks forward to spiritual and emotional ownership by these churches.
Grace Evangelical College and Seminary was established in March, 2001, incorporated as Grace Evangelical, Inc., under the laws of the State of Maine and overseen by a Board of Advisors and Board of Trustees. Grace Evangelical currently operates under a legislative exemption from the secular charter process available to religious higher education institutions in the State of Maine. Under the exemption, Grace Evangelical is permitted to confer degrees. The corporation and its College and Seminary are a ministry in partnership with Crosspoint Church (formerly Bangor Baptist Church), as well as many other church congregations.
Grace Evangelical first admitted seminary students in 2001 and undergraduates in 2002. The first B.A. in Biblical Studies was awarded May 5, 2006, the first A.A. degree in Biblical Studies in May, 2007, and the seminary its first M.A. in Ministry degree in the same month. In the following year, the second B.A. in Biblical Studies was awarded. Since its founding, Grace Evangelical has granted more than 30 undergraduate and graduate degrees.
In June 2008, Grace Evangelical purchased the property at 502 Odlin Road for its campus, moving during the summer from the 815 square foot space on Broadway to the new 5,000 square foot facility in time to hold late summer classes and open the fall semester. In December, 2008, Grace Evangelical was able to purchase the 1,800 square-foot Maguire Building to be used as a stand-alone library building.
Grace Evangelical maintains Associate status with the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. In 2008, Grace Evangelical programs were approved by the Maine State Approving Agency for the use of VA benefits to pay tuitions of veterans enrolled in degree or certificate programs at the school. In May 2009, the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) recognized Grace Evangelical as a provider of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) in Biblical Studies for ACSI-certified teachers.
“Pursuant to the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 20-A, section 10708, subsection 4, this institution is not required to obtain authorization from either the State Board of Education or the Maine State legislature in order to : (1) use the name ‘junior college,’ ‘college,’ or ‘university,’ (2) offer courses or programs for academic credit or (3) confer degrees.”
“New England Bible College/Grace Evangelical Seminary is an associate institution of the Association for Biblical Higher Education. As such, it participates in and contributes to collegial and professional development activities of the association. Associate status does not, however, constitute, imply, or presume ABHE accredited status at present or in the future.”
Grace Evangelical does not discriminate in admission or employment policies and practices on the basis of race, gender, age, color, national origin, disability, or status as a veteran.
Study at New England Bible College/Grace Evangelical Seminary is offered as a privilege and assumes students will be self-governed by relationships and responsibilities to the institution and to each other. Connection with and study at the institution is not under any circumstances to be construed as a right or an entitlement.