From Cabin to Campus: The Rich History of Great Lakes Christian College

by Zachary Erdman, Great Lakes Christian College student

I would like to preface this article with a special thanks to Great Lake Christian College’s Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Phil Beavers, for supplying me with a great deal of information concerning Great Lake's history. This article would not have been possible without Mr. Beavers’ help. Thank you!

Great Lakes Christian College is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year!

To celebrate the college entering its eighth decade of dedication to the scriptures, community, and academic excellence, we’ve decided to highlight the rich seventy-year history of Great Lakes Christian College.

Great Lakes Christian College (originally “Great Lakes Bible College”) had its humble Log-Cabin-1024x682beginnings in a small cabin in a small community near Vestaburg known as Rock Lake, the site of a popular camp for those involved in the Restoration Movement (that is, the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ). The community, resolute in its Restoration roots, proved to be an excellent place for the first two years of GLCC’s existence; with a beautiful view of creation and strong followers of the faith surrounding it, the tiny Christian college was off to a good start. Though the student body was small (only twelve students enrolled in the first year, no bigger than Christ’s Apostles), the dedication of those involved would prove to be a strong driving force of progress for the school in the years to come.


Though the location was beautiful, the humble cabin where Great Lakes Bible College started wouldn’t be able to hold the faculty and students forever. Two years after its opening in Rock Lake, the college managed to purchase the Dodge Mansion in Lansing, a much larger abode where more students and materials could be housed for an improved education. Still, a single building alone couldn’t contain all of the hopes and dreams of the college! As the college’s reputation for biblical excellency continued to grow, so did the need for a bigger location that would last.


The college purchased a much larger chunk of land near West Lansing in 1972 and promptly began construction of the Ralph R. Woodard Administration Building, where classes were to be held. The extra space of the school grounds allowed for later construction of buildings as well, including student housing, the Doty Center (the college’s gymnasium, named after Dr. Brant Lee Doty) in 2007 and the Knowles Learning Center (a part of the school dedicated to academic excellence, named after Dr. Lloyd Knowles) in 2011. It was also during this era of the school’s history that a decision was made to rename the college “Great Lakes Christian College,” reinforcing its grounding in the Restoration traditions by swapping out the word “Bible” for “Christian.”


This current epoch of GLCC’s history has seen more than just architectural development; the educational side of GLCC also took several incredible strides during this time period! The school was granted accreditation by The Higher Learning Commission in 2003, which gave Great Lakes the recognition of its educational prowess that it deserved, and it has successfully maintained that accreditation ever since. The college was also green lighted to begin offering online degrees last year, a huge step in the technologically evolving world of education, and now offers a handful of degrees. More degrees are meant to be made available as GLCC continues to develop its online presence.


Seventy years is a huge milestone that any institution should be proud to reach, and Great Lakes Christian College is no exception. With so many wonderful and Christ-centered achievements over its seventy-year life so far, and with so many more to come, Great Lakes' story is only beginning.

Come join the community of Great Lakes Christian College as we celebrate these wonderful past seventy years of community, academic achievement, and an overwhelming love for Christ!

We can't wait to hear from you! 

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By Great Lakes Christian College | September 25th, 2019 |