The Baptist Bible Institute of Cleveland had its inception on September 27,1941,when nine pastors attended a Bible conference at the Calvary Baptist Church in Cleveland,Ohio. These men held a special session to discuss the possibility of establishing an educational institution to train Cleveland area young people for the ministry. A second meeting was held on October 20,1941, when the decision was made to move forward as quickly as possible. In less than a year, B.B.I.was opened as a night school.
In January 1946, B.B.I. incorporated in accordance with the laws of the State of Ohio. On June 4 of the same year, the first nine graduates received their diplomas. The following September the day school began with 28 students enrolled. The institute became an approved school of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (G.A.R.B.C.), and in October 1949, was accredited by the Accrediting Association of Bible Institutes and Bible Colleges in its intermediate division. By May 1951, the trustees revised the charter of the institute to permit the granting of theological degrees, and additional courses were added leading to the Bachelor of Religious Education degree. At the same time, a Bachelor of Theology degree was approved.
While the Baptist Bible Institute was flourishing in Cleveland and in need of additional space, Cedarville College, a Presbyterian school in Cedarville, Ohio, was struggling with dwindling enrollment and reduced financial resources. An agreement was reached between the Boards of Trustees of the two institutions that the Baptist Bible Institute of Cleveland would assume ownership and responsibility for the operation of Cedarville College beginning in the fall of 1953.