Local churches show support for MOC's mission, donate heavily
By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on November 25, 2009 1:46 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Local members of Free Will Baptist churches in Wayne County donated more than $86,000 to Mount Olive College this year at the annual college recognition dinner.
The estimated 300 attendees at the dinner donated more than $100 each to the college, earning the "Bridge Builder" designation from MOC.
Stoney Creek Free Will Baptist Church gave the largest single contribution at the dinner, donating more than $30,000 to further the private, Christian liberal arts college's mission.
About $25,000 of that money came from the church's budget, funding that the church dedicates yearly to the cause, Pastor Gary Bailey said.
"We have budgeted funds in our church funds for the college, since that is one of our denomination's ministries, and also from direct contributions from members who choose to be bridge builders," Bailey said.
The church has about 700 active members, more than 50 of whom are alumni. Several of the church's members are also students at Mount Olive College.
"We have probably more students going to MO than any other church," Bailey said.
The college is the only one for the Free Will Baptist denomination, so it is especially meaningful that the churches support the ministry, he said.
"That's important. We do this every fall. Through our offerings each week, our budget is made up that way, so even people who don't directly contribute are giving through tithes," Bailey said.
May's Chapel Free Will Baptist Church was recognized for donating the most per person and for having the most high school students in attendance at the dinner. Church deacon Barbara Lancaster is the countywide church organizer for the donation drive, and said the churches reached their fundraising goal this year.
"We just encourage people to give. There are several ways you can give, and we encourage them to do as much as they can according to the Lord's blessing," she said.
May's Chapel donated about $8,700, from only 55 members of the church family. The church is a very giving one, she said.
The money will largely go toward funding scholarships for students at the college, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college.
"The motto of the school is transforming lives. If we can help make a difference in someone's life, it's very worthwhile," Mrs. Lancaster said. "We hope that the money helps provide scholarships for the students are in need. To help transform a life, it's a wonderful opportunity."
The money will go toward helping students, MOC director of church support Jean F. Ackiss said.
"Every time you give to Mount Olive College, you are making an investment in the lives of the students we serve," she said.
Mount Olive College was founded by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists in 1951 as one of the church's ministries.
"As I visit with the members of the Original Free Will Baptist congregations, I am overwhelmed by the love, pride and commitments that the college receives from the church," MOC President Dr. Philip Kerstetter said.
The benefit collected a total of $86,546 in donations for the college.