Every institution has its beginning in the planting of a seed idea, and for Arlington Baptist University the seed was planted in 1925 with a concept of a Bible Institute in Dallas. Although this institute did not materialize, it led Dr. J. Frank Norris, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, to begin in 1927, the Fundamental Bible Institute. The Institute offered a plan of systematic Bible study via radio and correspondence.
In 1931, Dr. Norris announced the formation of the Pre-Millennial Bible Conference/Southwestern Pre-Millennial Bible School which would conduct two sessions a year. The first session was held in November 1931, and Dr. Louis Entzminger was named Superintendent. These Bible conferences were developed to provide concentrated pastoral training, encouragement, challenge, and teaching in the truth of God's Word.
Out of these early Bible training efforts, the Fundamental Baptist Bible Institute was chartered on March 3, 1939; and the first classes met in October of 1939, in an upper room of the First Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX. The curriculum was expanded from the Bible conferences, and the length of the term was changed to eight months plus a two-month summer term.
The name of the school was changed in 1945 to Bible Baptist Seminary. Dr. Norris' death in 1952 left the institution without a "home", and the classes were transferred to a temporary location in downtown Fort Worth.
Dr. Earl K. Oldham was named President in 1953. Dr. Oldham, a graduate of the Bible Baptist Seminary, was pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. Under Dr. Oldham’s leadership, the school was relocated to its permanent home in Arlington, Texas in 1955. Dr. Oldham directed the school into a four-year undergraduate institution, changing the name to Arlington Baptist College, and offering the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees. Although the College was authorized by the Texas Higher Education Commission to issue degrees, Dr. Oldham recognized the importance and necessity for fully accredited status under an accrediting body approved by the United State Department of Education. In 1975, Dr. Oldham initiated an inquiry with what was then entitled the American Association of Bible Colleges (AABU). The College achieved Candidate status with AABU in 1977. In 1980 Dr. Oldham was named Chancellor. During Dr. Oldham's twenty-seven years as President, the College grew in facilities, students, and personnel.
Dr. Wayne Martin was named President in 1980. Dr. Martin led the College to its fully accredited status in 1981, completing the accreditation process that had begun in 1975. Dr. Martin continued the College's pursuit of Christian service and academic excellence while preserving the institution's original purpose.
In January 1992, Dr. Wendell Hiers was named interim President, bringing to the office over twenty years of veteran mission work in Brazil and several years as Director of the World Baptist Fellowship Mission Agency.
The College Board of directors appointed David D. Bryant as the President of the College effective May 1, 1993. David Bryant graduated from the Bible Baptist Seminary with a Bachelor of Divinity degree and served as a pastor for 17 years. Dr. Bryant continued his education and now has a Master of Theology from the Louisiana Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Divinity from Baptist Christian College. He is also a former College Board member. Dr. Bryant is one who motivates servants for Christ.
Upon Dr. Bryant’s announcement of retirement in January of 2009, the College Board contacted Dr. D. L. Moody, pastor of Pleasantview Baptist Church in Arlington Texas, concerning the position of president of Arlington Baptist College. In April of 2009, Dr. Moody resigned his pastorate and accepted the Board’s invitation to become the new president of ABU, which became effective June 01, 2009.
Dr. Moody is a 1983 graduate (BA) of Arlington Baptist College. In 1989, Dr. Moody returned to the College to serve as Director of Institutional Development from 1989 to 1991 and later as Dean of Students from 1991 to 2004 while teaching the Pastoral Ministry and Homiletics courses. While fulfilling these responsibilities with the college, Dr. Moody obtained his MA in Ministry from Moody Bible Institute in 2002, as well as his Doctor of Ministry from Covington Theological Seminary in 2005. Throughout his association with ABU, Dr. Moody has continued to have a positive impact on students, pastors, and friends of the college.
On June 1, 2017, Arlington Baptist College changed its name to Arlington Baptist University.
Upon Dr. Moody’s resignation in June 2019, the Board appointed Jimmy McNeil, pastor of Pleasantview Baptist Church, as interim president for six months. At the end of his term, the Board appointed Cliff McDaniel as interim president. His term began January 1, 2020.
On January 11, 2021, the University Board elected Clifton McDaniel as the school’s tenth president. Mr. McDaniel graduated from ABU (then ABC) with his BS (2000) and his M.Ed. (2013) degrees. Clifton spent 9 years in public education before returning to ABU in 2011 to restart ABU’s athletics which has grown to over 100 athletes and eight sports. During his time as interim, Mr. McDaniel led the school to improvements in the campus, as well as academics, chapel, and student life.
*SOURCE: USS WBF-SAIL ON, 1992.
EARL K. OLDHAM AND MRS. O. (Additional information, beyond date of book, has been added.)