The North Alabama Bible School in Athens, Alabama, was first conceived in the mind of Bennie Lee Fudge. Fudge, who had grown up in Limestone County, worked his way through college at David Lipscomb Junior College, where he was named Valedictorian of his class, and Abilene Christian College. In his valedictory address at Lipscomb, he expressed his belief in the need for agricultural Bible schools in every community across the country. He envisioned that students would attend such schools from first grade through high school, would attend chapel each day, and would have a daily Bible class in their curriculum. After his graduation that day in June of 1939, Fudge returned to Athens and set about making his dream a reality.
The groundwork for the school was laid from 1939-42. While attending Lipscomb, Bennie Lee Fudge had become acquainted with Jack Rollings, a fellow student who also called Limestone County home. During this time Fudge also met Irven Lee, a member of the Lipscomb faculty, who also expressed interest in Fudge's ideas. Later, while Fudge was in and out of Abilene Christian College, he kept up a steady stream of correspondence with key people in Limestone County. While at home, Fudge and Rollings were able to arouse interest in such a Bible school by talking with members of their home community. When Lee came to Limestone County to preach, the talk among the three men became more detailed and definite plans for a Bible school were in place by 1942.
Fudge, Rollings and Lee appointed some prominent men who supported their ideas as a board of directors for the Bible school. That board met for the first time on December 27, 1942. The board then officially appointed administrators over the school: Irven Lee as President, Jack Rollings as Vice-President, and Bennie Lee Fudge as Dean.
The First ABS Faculty
Front Row: Bennie Lee Fudge, A.J. Rollings, Irven Lee.
Back Row: George Williams, Wayne Mickey, George Hook, Foy Short, Charles Chumley
North Alabama Bible School opened for classes on September 6, 1943, offering classes for students in grades 7 - 12. The new school was approved for accreditation in February 1944 and the elementary grades were added gradually in the ensuing years. Lee left Athens in 1947 to go to Florence and begin a similar school at Mars Hill. Since Mars Hill and other schools like it were soon to be started in that North Alabama area the name of the school was changed from "North Alabama Bible School" to "Athens Bible School" in November 1947.
The principles and goals espoused by the men and women of Athens Bible School are the same today as they were at its inception. We continue to emphasize academic excellence while at the same time working to instill Christian values in the children who are sent to us. We have never accepted donations from churches or congregations of any kind, and still operate entirely on tuition, fundraisers, and donations from individuals and corporations. We have a strong Board of Directors who work hard to guide the school's future development efforts while preserving and promoting the values that have made us successful to this point.
From the moment you set foot on our campus, you'll find that the faculty, staff, and alumni of Athens Bible School comprise the same loving, caring family that was found here in 1943, though our family has grown over the years. As we continue to grow, we will need the help of interested alumni and friends to help keep the doors of this school, along with its rich tradition and spiritual emphasis, open to those who desire the kind of educational opportunities we offer. Whether you are a past alum or the parent or patron of potential future students, we invite you to arrange a campus visit and experience for yourself all that Athens Bible School has to offer.