Blackwelder Fund supports SOT students
Raising up the next generation of ministry leaders within the Church of God is a constant and important goal. But when people feel God’s call to ministry on their lives, one of the struggles they often face is how to finance their education. The Boyce W. Blackwelder Fund was created to help that need.
Named in honor of the late Rev. Boyce W. Blackwelder, a preacher, author, and faculty member of the Anderson University School of Theology, the fund was created in 1974 by the General Assembly of the Church of God to financially assist Church of God students with the cost of their ministerial studies at AU’s SOT. It has helped hundreds of students in the SOT answer their call.
The Blackwelder Fund made it possible for the Rev. David Grogg MDiv ’83 to attend seminary nearly 30 years ago, and the church he pastors now has made giving to the Blackwelder Fund a priority. “I was a recipient, so I felt a desire to pass on what I had received in the hope that it would likewise assist somebody else in getting their seminary training,” said Grogg. The Northwood Church of God in Northwood, Ohio, where he pastors agreed, deciding to annually contribute one percent of its budget to the fund. While in school, Grogg worked as an ambulance driver and his wife worked in Decker Hall on the AU campus in order to pay the bills. At a time when Anderson had one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, the Blackwelder Fund allowed them to make ends meet and avoid the debt of student loans. “The church is in need of individuals to go into ministry, and one of the least things we can do is to help underwrite the people who are willing to make that sacrifice and follow the calling that God has placed on their lives to go into ministry,” said Grogg.
Ashley Fletcher BA ’09 is a current student in the SOT and recipient of the Blackwelder Fund. She, too, feels the Blackwelder Fund is a precious gift that allows her to concentrate on her studies. “I accepted it as a gesture of support and affirmation for my calling to ministry,” she said. “I know that I — and a lot of other classmates — have sacrificed a lot to be here to give all our effort into developing our skills for our future ministries, so to have the backing of our extended church family in a way that financially supports us has been very meaningful to me. I know that I couldn’t be here and be able to invest everything I have, all my efforts, if I didn’t have that additional support.” For SOT student Andrew Davidson, what the Blackwelder Fund means can be summed up in one word: grace. “I would not be able to be here without the Blackwelder Fund,” he said. “It would be impossible.” With a wife in college and a 2-year-old son, seminary seemed financially impossible. “When the doors opened, especially with the Blackwelder Fund, it was amazing to see the grace of God at work.”
Davidson expressed how in his own life he had struggled with the idea of tithing and giving, wondering if what he gave really had a meaningful impact on another life. “I realize now that when you give in faith, this is the most powerful work that you can do,” he said. “Giving in faith is exactly what we’re called to do because we have no idea what God’s going to do with it. He will multiply it like loaves and fish!”
For close to 40 years, the Blackwelder Fund has been multiplying the gifts given in faith to help produce well-trained church leaders. According to Grogg, this is “one of the most important things that we need to do to continue to expand the work of the Church of God around our world.”
— Heather Lowhorn, Excerpt from 2010 Donor Report