Learning the Ropes
Why Welch College (formerly Free Will Baptist Bible College) is shifting the Ketteman Student Scholarship Drive offering from December to February.
Same Offering...New Month
by Mike Edwards
The Christmas Project, as it was originally known, began in the late 1960s under the direction of Welch College’s Public Relations Director Paul Ketteman. The purpose of the Christmas Project was to boost income for the general fund. During Christmas break each year, participating students, staff, and faculty gave testimony about the college at their home churches. They would encourage individuals and the church to pray for the college’s needs and give financially to the college.
It was during this era that the checkbook method of giving was highlighted. Anyone (student, faculty, staff member) who brought back a signed checkbook was rewarded with a steak dinner. During Mr. Ketteman’s 25-year tenure as public relations director, the Christmas Project became an annual event and a major fundraiser for the college.
After Ketteman’s death in 1987, the college administration named the annual Christmas Project offering the Paul Ketteman Memorial Christmas Fund Drive. In 1992, the National Association of Free Will Baptists adopted The Together Way stewardship plan that recognizes specific months for national agencies to make major appeals. Following the Ketteman tradition, The Together Way plan officially designated December as Welch College’s month.
In recent years, the college has referred to the December offering as the Ketteman Student Scholarship Drive. The rationale was to focus on the purpose of the offering, to reduce tuition costs, and to emphasize Brother Ketteman’s love for students. In other words, any Ketteman Student Scholarship Drive raises funds to underwrite institutional scholarships.
Gifts to the scholarship drive are vital. Last year, denominational giving provided every student with a $173 per semester hour scholarship. We thank you!
Five Change Reasons
During the 2012 national convention in Memphis, delegates approved changing the college’s emphasis month from December to February. Why, after more than four decades, would such a change be necessary? Here are five reasons for a new emphasis month.
The Home Missions Benjamin Randall Offering occurs in November. It has become increasingly difficult for churches to participate in two major offerings in successive months. Shifting the college emphasis month to February will spread out the appeals to our churches.
We traditionally refrain from distributing promotional materials about the Ketteman Student Scholarship Drive until after the Benjamin Randall Offering, which means the time we have to promote the offering is quite limited.
Churches now sponsor more activities in December than they did a few years ago. This makes it difficult for pastors to adequately promote the college offering.
Other agencies have expressed a desire to make end-of-the-year appeals in December, but have been hampered because it is our emphasis month. This change will give them more flexibility as their fiscal year ends.
For the past four years, we have conducted a call-a-thon in February to raise funds for the college. We have had good success with this project and feel that moving our emphasis month to February will enhance fundraising efforts.
Choosing February as Welch College’s emphasis month will permit other national agencies opportunity for year-end appeals (the college is on a June-May fiscal year). It provides more promotional time and lightens the load of back-to-back appeals on our churches. This new emphasis month will align other fundraising efforts for the college as well.
Of course, this does not mean that churches cannot receive a Welch College Christmas offering. What it does mean is that the college will now use the month of February for major fundraising appeals to our denomination.
What KSSD Does
The Ketteman Student Scholarship Drive provides funds for institutional scholarships. Welch College awarded students over $1 million in institutional scholarships during the 2011-2012 school year. These scholarships include: Legacy Award (for children of Free Will Baptist pastors), NYC Competition Winners’ Scholarship, Merit Scholarships, Lifetime Learning/Online Scholarships, Transfer Scholarships, and other institutional scholarships.
Every local church and each individual’s participation make a difference. You can help students fund their future by supporting the Ketteman Student Scholarship Drive. Make plans now to participate in the scholarship drive.
About the Writer: Mike Edwards serves as director of the Ketteman Student Scholarship Drive at Welch College.