The Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies is a non-profit organization that seeks to expand Biblical knowledge through its travel/study programs and archaeological excavations. The Land is Our Classroom!
The Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies began in 1980 through the inspiration of Dr. Jim Ridgway, founder and President of Educational Opportunities, Inc., a non-profit Christian travel ministry located in Lakeland, Florida. The orignal purpose was to offer pastors travel/study programs to Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece and Rome for enrichment of their ministry. These programs provided active academic learning within a geographic, cultural, archaeological and Biblical context.
The Center later made their travel/study programs available to church laity and to the academic community including colleges, universities, seminaries and graduate schools. Many academic leaders have partnered with JCBS to give their students exciting educational experiences.
Children’s Hospital became the first location of the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies. This location served the needs of JCBS until the lease expired in May of 1985. From the beginning, part-time faculty member Dr. James Fleming contributed much to the development of the Jerusalem Center. He established the early structure of JCBS courses and his expertise in the land and its geography drew many students. Dr. Fleming served the Jerusalem Center until 1988 when he left to devote his full attention to Biblical Resources.
1985 - A permanent home was found for JCBS at the Diplomat Hotel’s auxiliary building. This building allowed JCBS to expand courses and increase student capacity.
1988 - Dr. Jim Martin served as Academic Dean.
1989 - Dr. Charles Page succeeded Dr. Martin and served until 2003. He was responsible for developing new courses and beginning our archaeological work at Bethsaida. In 2001-2003, thanks to generous benefactors, the JCBS sponsored excavations at Kursi (Gergesa) with the Antiquities Authority of Israel. The Biblical Archaeological Review published an article about the importance of the work at Kursi. Unfortunately the ongoing intifada led to low enrollment in JCBS programs, and Dr. Page finished his leadership in December of 2003.
2006 - Bishop Robert Fannin served as Interim Dean. JCBS worked in concert with Trinity Southwest University on the Tall el-Hamman Archaeological Dig
Dr. Willis Britt was appointed as Academic Dean. The present location of the Jerusalem Center is the Olive Tree Hotel
Present - The Jerusalem Center continues to explore new ways to enable academic communities, pastors and laity to expand their Biblical knowledge and enhance their ministry in the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries of Jordan, Egypt, Israel/Palestine, Greece and Turkey.