Rev. Martha Archer

In the early days of KMBC, then known as Kentucky Mountain Bible Institute (KMBI), the majority of the leaders were women. Miss Martha Archer co-founded KMBI with Miss McConnell. She served as Vice President, Academic Dean, and Instructor.

Miss Archer was a Quaker lady who had been a school-teacher before coming to work with Miss McConnell in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. She, like Miss Lela McConnell, was a graduate of Asbury College.

For awhile, Miss Archer struggled with seeking sanctification. She knew she was hungry for it, but she had a persistent fear of being called to Africa and eaten by lions if she completely surrendered to God. She finally died out to her fears and was wonderfully sanctified. She never went to Africa, but was led to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky instead.

Miss Archer taught at Mount Carmel in the early years. One day, Miss McConnell told her, “Martha, you’re going to start a Bible school!” Miss Archer felt she had no idea how to start a Bible school, but she took comfort in Psalm 25:9, “The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way.” Her confidence was not in herself, but in the Lord.

An old commissary building was donated to the work, and Miss Archer led the way in cleaning it up and getting it ready for classes to begin. KMBI first opened in 1931 in Vancleve at the mouth of Little Frozen Creek. Miss Archer and Miss McConnell were the first teachers, starting with three young lady students. It was difficult in those early years. With little money, they depended on the Lord for their daily needs.

Disaster struck on July 5, 1939, when a wall of water roared down between the hills and washed away the school. Several lives were lost, including Horace Myers and his three children. Despite the devastating setback, Miss Archer and Miss McConnell persisted in the work. Land was donated and new buildings were erected. Miraculously, the new campus was ready for the students that fall.

Miss Archer was well-liked by the students of KMBI. The KMBI yearbook of 1951 was dedicated in her honor. The dedication reads, “To Miss Martha Archer, who has prayed with us, taught us, played with us and advised us, we lovingly and respectfully dedicate the 1951 edition of the KMBIAN.”

Miss Henrietta Griffith who knew all of the early workers of Mt. Carmel and KMBI, says that Miss Archer “was a very unusual leader, an excellent leader. She let you know what she expected of you.” She was very neat and precise. She was also a great prayer warrior, and led faculty prayer meetings every evening from 6:30-7:00. KMBC is indebted to this great woman of God who faced her fear and did what God called her to do.


1) KMBI Yearbooks: 1951, 1956

2) Wilfred Fisher, Abundant Grace, Vancleve KY, A Fisher Book.