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Our History

the Albany Bible institute

The history of the Albany Bible Institute is inarguably intertwined with the history of Camp Pinnacle. After the death of her husband in 1896, Mrs. Harriet Christie was left a young widow without children. The following summer, she visited her Sunday school teacher in the suburbs of Chicago.

One evening while sitting on the porch, Harriett said to her friend, “Do you suppose I could ever do anything to help girls who are worse off than I am?” Her friend did not say, “No you’re young,” or “No, you haven’t had the experience,” or “You are not well enough,” but she said with assurance, “Yes, of course you could!” And there the seed for camp [and the Albany Bible Institute] was planted.


Camp Pinnacle was founded in 1898 as the "Young Women's Bible Training Movement," to create recreational and spiritual challenges for young women. It was the first summer camp in America founded exclusively for girls. The first year of camp was held in half of a farmhouse at “the head of the Indian Ladder Road” and in the years that followed, camp was held at multiple different locations in the Helderberg Mountains, finally arriving at its current location in 1914. There are many women that were implemental in the beginning years of camp’s history, such as Miss Lucy Jones who was a life-long friend and ministry partner of Mrs. Christie. Immeasurable joy and memories were shared by both leaders and campers as they worked, played, worshiped, and studied God’s word together during the summer months.

In December of 1912 Mrs. Harriet Christie, Miss Lucy Jones, and several friends gathered for a Christmas party at an established religious center located at 7 High Street in Albany, NY. Together with a heart for bringing young women into closer relationship with Christ and guiding them to building a biblical foundation in their lives, they made the decision to start a missionary training organization called “Albany Bible Institute” (ABI) at this location. They rented the “front basement” of the center for $10 per month. Classes and “Bible school suppers” were held once a week and an incredible amount of prayer, love, enthusiasm, and interest went into these meetings. Many of the young women who attended camp during the summer months began attending classes as well. As this zeal spread and numbers increased, they soon found themselves needing a larger space and a more permanent headquarters.

In August of 1913, Mrs. Christie and Miss Jones along with a local real estate agent toured 107 Columbia Street in Albany, NY as a prospective location for the school to be held the following fall. After deciding this space would fit their needs well, they signed a lease to rent the building and eventually purchased it in 1916 in what was remembered by the founders as a “tremendous venture in faith.” The Albany Bible Institute became incorporated and established as a real Bible training center in 1915.

As the number of students continued to grow, the women found themselves running out of space yet again. Only about a year after purchasing the Columbia Street location, they began searching for an even larger facility. To meet this need, a beautiful 10-bedroom home at 281 State St. Albany, NY (now referred to as the State Street Mansion) was purchased in 1918. The adjoining home, 283 State St. was eventually purchased as well for additional space.

In 1914, the New York State Department of Education began granting one academic credit per year for “release-time classes,” designated time slots during school hours for public school students to receive religious instruction or devotional exercises. Many young women opted to take “release-time classes” through the Albany Bible Institute. By 1943, young men were invited to attend the institute as well. It was not until 1950 that Camp Pinnacle became co-educational.


From the start, the school always strived to keep tuition and book costs to an absolute minimum to reduce any barrier of entry for anyone with an interest to pursue a deeper knowledge of God’s Word. A large library was acquired over time, well-managed and made available for the students to borrow from as they wished. A significant emphasis on time for prayer in the school schedules was held at a very high regard. Over the years, the Albany Bible Institute began offering classes at many different locations throughout New York State, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Local churches were very involved, with classes held at many church locations and mail-in registration slips regularly inserted into Sunday morning bulletins. Many local pastors, world-wide missionaries, and professors from Christian colleges agreed to instruct courses. Certificates of completion were offered for students who worked towards specific offered programs and in the 1980’s courses for college credits were offered in cooperation with Houghton College. The school also supported workers in the mission field worldwide.

Mrs. Christie passed away in 1946, passing her positions as Director of Camp Pinnacle to Miss Mary Rogers, and of Board President of Albany Bible Institute on to Dr. Herbert Mekeel. Miss Lucy Jones, the Vice President and Registrar of Albany Bible Institute passed away the following year 1947, choosing to spend her last days at 281 State Street. This building was owned by Albany Bible Institute for 50 years until its sale in 1987 when the office headquarters was moved to Mekeel Lodge at Camp Pinnacle, named after Dr. Mekeel.

Classes were paused around 1990 during a change of leadership in the ministry of Camp Pinnacle. Today the Albany Bible Institute is still the official incorporated name of Camp Pinnacle Bible Camp & Retreat Center, which exists to “help people walk in Gods paths.” The purpose of Camp Pinnacle from the day it started until the present time has never changed – to lift up Jesus Christ, to develop Christian character in young people, and to give them a happy and wholesome vacation.



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In 1998 the book "Patchwork" was completed, recounting 100 years of rich Camp Pinnacle history. Many people participated in the important work of compiling the testimonials and historical facts written in the inspiring book. 

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A recount of the early days of Camp Pinnacle's history and ministry, as told by Miss Lucy Elizabeth Jones in 1947. Much of "The Long Road to Camp Pinnacle" is quoted and included in the book, "Patchwork, Camp Pinnacle's 100 Years of Ministry."  


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1917-1918 Young Women’s Bible Training Movement Bible School brochure, outlining the school’s purpose, basis of teaching, course schedule, faculty, and other important information.

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An excerpt (chapters 1 and 2) from Ann Warris’s autobiography, “Foretaste of Glory” printed in 1979. Ann’s life of ministry was significantly influenced by her experience at Camp Pinnacle in the early days of its ministry. 

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July 1925 – A newsletter from the “Young Women’s Bible Training Movement” (the title used to encompass the ministry of both Camp Pinnacle and the Albany Bible Institute) written by the founding women. An inspirational read, revealing the ever-present need for God’s help as we work to bring Him glory in all that we do. Some things truly never change.


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“How a Bible School Grew Out of a Girl’s Camp” - An early recount of the history of Camp Pinnacle, an outpouring of the founding women’s hearts and desires for the ministry, descriptions of the needs and prayer requests of the time, reports of answered prayer, a list of graduates, historic photographs, and a challenge to faith.

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1930-1931 Course catalogue for the Y.W.B.T.M with an outline of the mission purpose, history, curriculum description and basis of teaching.

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An informational guide to the Albany Bible Institute from around the year 1990. A full outline of the history of the school, its purpose, affiliation, doctrinal statement, administration, location and facilities, financial information, and a course list. 

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