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Southwestern Christian University was established by the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in the fall of 1946 as Southwestern Bible College to train men and women for leadership in professional ministry. Under the direction of Dr. R. O. Corvin and others, including the Rev. Oral Roberts, the school began in the former Abe Hale's Nightclub on a small acreage in a rural section of Oklahoma City.

During the 1960s and 1970s the school grew into a bustling urban campus located at 4700 Northwest Tenth Street. As one of the largest private junior colleges in the United States, Southwestern gained full accreditation by North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in spring 1973. In 1981, returning to a founding vision as a Bible college, administrators phased out the junior college curriculum, moved the four-year school of religion to the current location at 7210 Northwest Thirty-ninth Expressway, Bethany, Oklahoma, and changed its name to Southwestern College of Christian Ministries. With stricter admission requirements the student population dropped dramatically from two thousand in 1978 to forty in the fall of 1981. Enrollment increased gradually and stabilized at approximately 220. In 1993 Southwestern began a graduate program, offering a master of ministry degree, which has impacted the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, its leadership, ministers, and missionaries, as well as the Pentecostal and charismatic community. Adapting to the changing needs in education, Southwestern also initiated ABLE (Applied Biblical Leadership Education), a bachelor's degree program, in the fall of 1996.

At the turn of the twenty-first century the institution adopted an ambitious plan for campus and curriculum development and chose a new name, Southwestern Christian University, to reflect not only the school's heritage, but also its purpose as an Oklahoma university for Christian service.

Michael Lowder



Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 17 November 2001.

"Education, Higher—Oklahoma—Bethany," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Ronald N. Roddy, "Impact of the Campus Culture of Southwestern College of Christian Ministries Upon Student Development Opportunities" (Ph.D. diss., Oklahoma State University, 1997).

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Michael Lowder, "Southwestern Christian University," The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc.php?entry=SO019.

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