Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 26, 1959
NUMBER 29, PAGE 2-3b

Ohio Valley College Financial Policy -- Conviction Or Convenience?

Cecil Willis, Akron, Ohio

Just a few months ago I moved to Akron, Ohio and began work with the Brown Street church. Immediately I began hearing much about Ohio Valley College. It is true that I had heard a little about it before. But now I began to hear much about it. Several years ago some young people who had attended schools operated by some who were members of the church became concerned because there was no such school in their own area. Therefore they set about to establish such a school. For the past several years efforts have been made to bring the school into existence.

A charter was drawn up. A board of directors was appointed. Committees were appointed, assigned certain works, and set to their tasks. A campus site was sought out. Financial campaigns were set in motion. Finally a plot in Parkersburg, West Virginia was selected for the campus. This having been done, those interested in the school then set about in earnest trying to raise the necessary finances to make the school possible. They have what they call a two phase "Development Program" to raise finances. The first phase calls for the "solicitation of all members of the church in the West Virginia-Ohio area The goal for this phase is $1,000,000. The second phase of our Development program ... is the community support from the Greater Parkersburg area." This process of contacting every member of the church in West Virginia and Ohio is already underway.

April 6-9, 1959 there was conducted a lecture program by Ohio Valley College. In the May 21, 1959 issue of the Gospel Guardian, Brother Weldon Warnock then of New Martinsville, West Virginia gave what I considered to be a very complimentary report on this lecture program. However, three members of the Board of Trustees (later reports said five members of the board) were so excited about Warnock's article that they felt compelled to write an article replying to Warnock's article.

When the charter was drawn up for Ohio Valley College it was stated that the college never would solicit or accept any contribution from any congregation. This feature of the school's financial policy, Brother Warnock specifically highly commended. He also added that he hoped that they never changed in their stand of maintaining separation between the church and the school. The Board of Trustees felt this commendation needed toning down a little.

The states of Ohio and West Virginia, like most states, have both conservative and liberal brethren in them. However, brethren in these two states are not so numerous as they are in Tennessee and Texas. Consequently, the school would like very much to have the endorsement of both groups. In the Akron area there are few (if any) brethren who would endorse congregations contributing to a college. So when solicitations are being made in this area, or when any school promoter is visiting in this area, the fact that the school will neither solicit nor accept contributions from congregations is capitalized upon. This is a good area in which to emphasize that point. However, there are other brethren in these two states who consider it to be an "extreme or radical view" to make any contention over whether the school be congregationally or individually supported. So the Board of Trustee members did not want too much emphasis put on their policy of refusing to accept money from congregations. They state in their article of reply printed in the Gospel Advocate June 11, 1959, "We do not feel that Ohio Valley College has any business trying to dictate the policies of other colleges. We feel that we and they are working toward the same goals. Though our policy of obtaining support may vary from them, we are not intending to start any crusade against those schools, but shall give them our prayers and blessings."

This statement simply says that the statement in the charter that Ohio Valley College will neither solicit nor accept contributions from congregations is not a matter of conviction with the Board members, but simply a matter of policy. If those who drew up the charter and those who constitute the Board of Trustees had any real convictions against congregations contributing to Ohio Valley College, then they could not conscientiously give other schools who do solicit and accept contributions their "prayers and blessings." If they believe the other schools to be engaged in that which is sinful, the brethren who operate Ohio Valley College should feel conscience bound "to start a crusade against those schools" engaged in that which they believe to be wrong.

I, for one, am glad to see this statement from the Board of Trustee members. It tells me a great deal that I had suspected all along, and now know to be a fact. Those brethren do not feel it to be wrong for a congregation to contribute to Ohio Valley College. They simply feel it would be inexpedient since brethren in Ohio and West Virginia are divided in their sentiment on congregational support of a college. Since they need the support of both groups of brethren, therefore they felt it would be wise not to accept money from congregations. Now if I am not correct in these conclusions, let the Board of Trustees plainly state that they do think it is sinful for a congregation to contribute to Ohio Valley College or to any similar college (such as David Lipscomb or Harding), and I will be glad to write in this same paper a retraction of what I just said. However, at the same time I would like for them to tell me how they can give their "prayers and blessings" to brethren who are engaged in a practice which the Board of Trustees believes is sinful.

These brethren had just as well quit trying to play both ends against the middle. If they are going to stand for the truth concerning the separation that should be maintained between the church and the school (as their charter indicates they might), let them have enough courage to say so. If the wording of their charter was only a matter of convenience (a guarantee to put their development program goal of $1,000,000 over the top) and means nothing, then let them say so.

They state in their literature that "Each and every interested family throughout the area must be given an idea of how much they should give to fill the needs of Ohio Valley College. A solicitor calling upon a family must be ready to answer the question, 'How much should we give?' It will be suggested that the leaders of each area study the financial resources of the people to the end that each family will be encouraged to give its 'fair share.' " Now before they come and inquire of the Brown Street brethren what I am paid, before they inquire as to my bank account's status (They will find it in miserable shape), in their effort to ascertain my "fair share," let them tell me (and thousands of other interested brethren) the answer to this question: "Is your statement in the charter that no contribution will be either solicited or accepted from any congregation a matter of conviction with you brethren or is it only a matter of convenient policy?" Answer this before you even approach me about my "fair share."

The school also states in one of its pieces of literature that "It is also vital that those who make contributions to the school be informed of the kind of school that is planned so that they will understand for what their funds are being used, thus providing them no excuse to want to change those policies because they have invested money in the school." (My underlining — CW) Since I live in Ohio, and every member in Ohio is to be solicited, and since we ought to be informed what kind of school is planned, please begin to inform me by telling me why you do not accept money from churches. Is it because you think it is unwise, or is it because you think it is wrong?

Do you believe New Testament teaching would be violated if a church contributed to Ohio Valley College? The answers to these questions will help me a great deal to underderstand what "kind of school is planned" at Parkersbu , West Virginia.