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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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John Wesley College

by Alexander R. Stoesen, 2006; Revised December 2021

The origins of John Wesley College can be traced to the founding of the People's Bible School in Greensboro in 1932. The school began with 4 teachers and 18 students and an interdenominational board of trustees headed by John R. Church. It was the intent of the founders to maintain the college as an independent institution totally free of any organized financial backing or denominational control. All funding came from tuition and personal offerings. The school's charter stated that it was "an undenominational holiness training school."

For its first ten years, the People's Bible School offered both grade school and high school courses along with the first two years of a Bible college curriculum. It was the publisher of the People's Herald, a holiness periodical that later became the John Wesley College CRUSADER . Most of the students at the People's Bible School were enrolled in the college-level program. In 1936, 40 acres of land were purchased in a subdivision being developed by J. P. Scales southwest of Greensboro on the "High Point-Greensboro Asphalt Road." Students helped erect a large frame tabernacle building. Female students lived in a nearby rented house, while the males occupied several "hastily constructed cabins." The second building to be built was a dormitory for women. In spite of construction expenses, the People's Bible School avoided any serious debt problems.

During World War II the People's Bible School was approved by the Selective Service System for draft exemption for ministerial students. By 1949 an administration building and a men's dormitory had been completed. That year the name was changed to People's Bible College, and ten years later the name was again changed, to John Wesley College.

John Wesley College is the only interdenominational college in the historic Wesleyan tradition in the southeastern United States that is affiliated with the Christian Holiness Association. The college began its relocation to High Point in 1979 and was accredited in 1982 by the American Association of Bible Colleges. That year the Norman D. Carter Building was dedicated, and classes began on the new campus in September. John Wesley College was reaccredited in 1987 and in 1992 was given a ten-year accreditation. In the mid-1990s a new adult degree-completion program was instituted along with a campus master plan approved by the city of High Point.

John Wesley College changed names to Laurel University in 2011.

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