On February 14, 1936, Rev. John G. Mitchell called a meeting of Portland-area ministers and Christian businessmen to discuss an idea that consumed his thinking. The Pacific Northwest, he was convinced, needed a school that would faithfully instruct men and women in the truths of God's Word. Other men at this meeting shared Dr. Mitchell's vision, and subsequently Multnomah School of the Bible came into existence. Classes began the following October in a former mortuary with forty-nine students and a half-dozen faculty. In the spring of 1939, Multnomah granted diplomas to thirty-one students-its first graduating class. The original campus was located adjacent to the site of the present Lloyd Center Shopping Mall in northeast Portland. In the early 1950s, the administration and trustee board realized Multnomah's growing student body would require expanded facilities. In 1952 after much prayer, the board decided to purchase the former seventeen-acre campus of Oregon State School for the Blind, located at the corner of northeast 86th Avenue and Glisan Street. It became the present location for the college and seminary.
Multnomah Bible College has fostered many ministries and businesses in its seventy-five-year history, including a graduate program, which has become its second division, Multnomah Biblical Seminary. In 1989, Multnomah created International Renewal Ministries (IRM), a ministry that serves as a catalyst for racial reconciliation and denominational unity in the body of Christ. Multnomah has contributed to the betterment of the Northwest by creating multiple ministries such as Christian Supply, Multnomah Press, and Mission Portland Networking, all of which, including IRM, now function independent of Multnomah.
From School to College and Seminary
Reflecting its growing educational programs, in 1993 Multnomah School of the Bible became Multnomah Bible College and Seminary even while reaffirming the spirit of its core purpose and mission. In 2005, Multnomah’s commitment to offer its graduates a regionally accredited biblical education resulted in membership with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. This additional accreditation allowed even more flexibility for graduates to transfer their Multnomah credits to more institutions.
University Name Addition
In 2008, Multnomah added the name Multnomah University as an umbrella title to encompass all the structural elements that make up the institution. With the addition of adult degree completion and non-seminary master's programs to the existing Bible College and Biblical Seminary divisions it became necessary to describe Multnomah in new terms. Now, Multnomah alumni and former students enjoy the benefits of a university education that is properly represented when they go overseas to serve or simply apply for jobs here at home.