George Whitefield College is named after the great English evangelist and preacher of the 18th century evangelical revival. It was his passion for evangelism and strong Bible-based theological preaching that the GWC founders desired to honour in naming the College after him. The College was founded in 1989, the product of the vision of Bishops Dudley Foord and Joe Bell, successive Presiding Bishops of the Church of England in Southern Africa. Their vision was for a college that would ground people thoroughly in God’s word, that they might be faithful and impassioned stewards of its message.
David Broughton Knox came to South Africa – from Sydney, Australia – in 1989 to establish George Whitefield College and be its first principal.
Arising from his conviction that Christian ministers are primarily teachers of the Word of God, he laid the foundations of a college that would have as the focal point of its study program the “whole counsel of God”. He believed that men and women who knew God and understood his will would be faithful in imparting this saving truth to others.
GWC began its life in a cluster of houses in Kalk Bay close to the long-established Bible Institute of South Africa. The two colleges worked in close cooperation, and still do.
With Broughton Knox came vast experience and knowledge to back up his vision. He came to Africa from a long association with Australia’s Moore Theological College, including 27 years as its principal. Drawing on his knowledge and experience, he laid solid foundations and set the college firmly on its path. There were four essential elements in his vision for the college: godly, learned faculty members, an excellent library, genuinely converted students with an aptitude for learning and teaching, and a convenient campus.
Dr Knox was succeeded in 1993 by David Seccombe. Along with his academic credentials, Dr Seccombe came with many years of experience in leading a church, and set himself the task of strengthening the pastoral training component of the college’s programme.
In 1997 GWC became affiliated with Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education, now known as North-West University. For some years students of GWC were also students of N-WU, and although they studied at GWC with GWC’s curriculum, were able to graduate with the Bachelor of Theology, the Bachelor of Arts Honours, and the Master of Arts degrees from N-WU.
In 1998 the college moved to a new campus in Muizenberg, where it has been able to consolidate and expand.
In 2005 GWC established its Evangelical Research Fellowship with the aim of assisting postgraduate students (honours, masters, doctoral) to achieve their academic goals at the same time as they advance in usefulness to the mission of the church.
In 2010 GWC achieved full registration with the SA Dept of Education as a private higher education institute with its own accredited degree (Bachelor in Theology) and certificate course (Certificate in Theology).
Dr Seccombe retired at the end of 2012, and was succeeded by Rev. Mark Dickson as Principal of GWC.
In 2016 the Bachelor of Theology Honours programme was established and accredited.
GWC has grown to become an important contributor to theological education in Africa, preparing students for ministries of the Word of God in South Africa, greater Africa and beyond.
George Whitefield College is grateful to God for his rich provision.