10/27/10 — MOC thanks county church for support

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MOC thanks county church for support

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 27, 2010 2:01 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- May's Chapel Free Will Baptist Church may be small in number, but when it comes to supporting Mount Olive College it sets an example other churches want to emulate.

The church and Stoney Creek Free Will Baptist church Church Tuesday night were recognized at the college's Wayne County Bridge Builders dinner for their fundraising efforts on behalf of the college -- May's Chapel for having the highest per capita giving level, $182.50, and Stoney Creek for raising the most $30,795.

Black Jack Grove had the most high school students present with six at the event held in the college's Lois K. Murphy Regional Center.

All told, Wayne County's Free Will Baptist churches collected $87,093 for the college, just shy of the $87,550 goal this year.

The first Wayne County dinner in 1963 raised $3,241. To date the annual church dinners have generated more than $1.855 million from Wayne County churches.

May's Chapel at Dudley and its 55 member congregation raised $9,490.

Barbara Lancaster, chairperson for the May's Chapel dinner and county chairperson for the dinners, said there was no secret to her church's success.

"I don't have a secret, I just ask them," she said. 'I tell them it is an opportunity to change a life. It is just a giving church. I am just really proud of them. May's Chapel is a giving church no matter what the cause.

"We have a lot of (Mount Olive College) alums there. We have a lot of parents who have sent children here and they give to Mount Olive because it is an opportunity to change somebody's life."

Some church members work for companies that match their donations, she said.

"For a small church of 55 members, to raise almost $10,000, that is quite an accomplishment and that is over and above their regular giving," she said. "It takes nothing away from our church budget."

Goldsboro's Stoney Creek has somewhat over 600 members and pastor, the Rev. Gary Bailey, a 1972 graduate of Mount Olive College, wants to reach the same per capita level as May's Chapel.

"We would like to match their per capita giving one year," he said. "It is my goal to match their giving. We are not jealous at all; we would just like to do more for the college. We want to do more for the college. We all want to."

Bailey said the small shortfall was statistically significant, particularly when viewed in light of the economy.

"Not at all," he said. "We would like to give more each year at the dinner. We would like for it to be more than the year before, but with the economy the way it is I am pleased it is down no more than that. I think we would call it even and be very thankful for that.

"We have members who give regularly and consistently. We try to teach in our church that we try to look outside ourselves and not just what is going on in the church. With the college being local we have a lot of students coming here. Our people are very proud of Mount Olive."

Tuesday night, 213 people were honored as Bridge Builders, those who contribute $100 or more.

Jean F. Ackiss, the college's director of church support, said she remains confident that the goal will still he reached.

"These are some of the best people on the face of the earth," she said. "We had about 275 people. We will reach the goal. They are giving people. They are caring people and they believe in this college and they want it to succeed.

"God does not have a problem with the economy. He will provide the funds from the right sources."

She noted that he more than $1.8 million that has been raised since 1963 just from Wayne County.

"It's wonderful, but it is wonderful working with people that really care about something that is bigger than they are and who want to make a difference in the lives of other people," she said.

Mount Olive College President Dr. Philip Kerstetter said that years ago most students attended private church-related colleges and universities. That trend has reversed and now more attend public colleges and universities, he said.

"Equally sad with that kind of change is that more and more colleges have lost their historical or actual connections to the churches that helped found them," he said. "You see that if you visit their websites and they talk about 'We were founded by,' but you see these magical words that say traditionally and historically related.

"That is just a nice way of saying not anymore. One of the neat things that we can talk about at Mount Olive College is the fact that we are very different than those colleges. We are not just affiliated, we are a denominational ministry."

That provides the college with a "whole bunch of different perspectives on things," and allows the college to do things other people have just not thought about, he said.

"Not only we going to provide a wonderful faith-based and value-centered education on the arts, sciences and professional services that are really going to be relevant for a lifetime, but we also have an opportunity to be of service to the church.

The Free Will Baptist church was "remarkably visionary" when it created the college, he said.

Kerstetter said he would continue to honor his pledge to reach out and find ways to be connected to the church, serving the church, serving the people of the church and being of service to the other denominational ministries.

"We are a resource to the church," he said. "We want to be in service to the church so we are constantly looking at ways we can reach out to be of service to you, to your congregations, to the denomination and certainly in the name of Christ.

"This is something that we are committed to and your gifts, your support to us, both in terms of your financial gifts, but also your prayers, are so instrumental in helping us not only to transform education, but most importantly we are transforming the lives of the people that we are able to touch."