On April 12, 1972, ten Southern Baptist churches (Boulevard, Broadway, Graceland, Havenview, Hickory Hills, LaBelle Haven, LaBelle Place, Trinity, Westhaven, and Whitehaven) met at a local restaurant to discuss a vision for a Christian school in the Whitehaven, Tennessee community. An organizational meeting was held, and a Christian school, later to be named Southern Baptist Educational Center (SBEC), was conceived. Serious discussions ensued, and later in 1972 thirty-six acres at the corner of Holmes and Tulane in Memphis, Tennessee were purchased for the site of the school. A corporate charter was granted to the churches on June 27, 1972.
The dream became a reality on April 1, 1973; groundbreaking ceremonies were conducted on the site. Mr. Frank Repult was chosen as the architect. Construction was set to begin on May 1, 1973. Plans were made for the school (grades 1-12) to open in the fall of 1973. For the interim it was projected that the elementary students would use Broadway Baptist Church's facilities and that the high school would use the facilities at Graceland Baptist Church. Mr. Royce Agerter was the first headmaster at SBEC, where there were 780 students and a staff of thirty-two.
The much anticipated dedication services were held on March 18, 1974, and the elementary and high school united in the new facilities. The first graduating class of 1974 consisted of twenty-four students. As the school continued to grow, it quickly faced not only a financial crisis, but also a philosophical and leadership crisis as well. In November of 1978, Broadway Baptist Church stepped forward and assumed total responsibility for the school and has been the school's sole sponsor since that time. In 1979 Paul E. Young was appointed headmaster, and along with Dr. Bobby Moore, pastor of Broadway Baptist Church, was responsible for the establishment and development of the Christian philosophy to which the school currently adheres. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredited SBEC in 1982.
During the early 1980's the community where the school was located was undergoing significant change. The area was losing professionals as well as families who could afford to send their children to SBEC. As the enrollment began to drop, the decision was made to look for property in DeSoto County. SBEC's current site was purchased in 1986, and the former facility was sold to the Memphis City School system. The Memphis Board of Education gave SBEC a million dollars in advance and allowed the school to continue to use the building for two years rent-free while the current facility was under construction.
This facility is located on 61 spacious acres that it shares with Broadway Baptist Church at 7400 Getwell Road, Southaven, Mississippi, in DeSoto County. The new school opened its doors in September 1988 with 600 students. For the last forty years SBEC has grown in size and scope and serves an average of 1,100 students in grades K-3 through twelve. The Board of Trustees is the governing body, and Pastor Tim Lampley holds a permanent seat on that board. SBEC is a member of the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association (TSSAA), Memphis Association of Independent Schools (MAIS), Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), and Tennessee Association of Independent Schools (TAIS) and has dual accreditation from the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). SBEC competes with thirty athletic teams in the high school and eleven teams in the elementary school. The Fine Arts Department features band, chorus, art, and drama. The academic program meets the needs of all students with both a college preparatory track and a program dedicated to students with learning disabilities. The student population is diverse without regard to race, color, creed, sex, ethnic or national origin.
SBEC is celebrating its fortieth anniversary and the school remains committed to the high standards of being a Christ-centered college preparatory school.
Since 2004, the campus has expanded, adding lighted tennis courts as a result of the generosity of the Homer Skelton Foundation together with a band suite, and an academic facility with 12 classrooms. The dedication of the new wing was held in January, 2006.
Two years later, on February 7, 2008, a new high school gymnasium was officially dedicated to the glory of God. The gym has side-by-side full court practice space, both girls' and boys' weight rooms, and a turf room for inside practice sessions. The latest addition to the campus is a full weight training facility. Through the generosity of several parents and friends of the school, it was dedicated in May, 2011.