Photo: The Keeter Center at the College of the Ozarks in Branson, MO.
I hope you enjoyed our Q1 report on our progress in helping churches smash barriers to Christian higher education. Last quarter I traversed America meeting leaders in churches of Christ and affiliated universities sharing the need for collaboration within our fellowship and strengthening relationships with our corporate sponsors Easy Freezy and LevlEd. Thankfully in Q2 I didn’t travel coast to coast but had 3 days of bliss in the Ozarks. Check it out!
Former Presidents Conference - Former Presidents of church of Christ-affiliated colleges support Harmonize.
Overview. The highlight of Q2 was presenting at the Former Presidents Conference held at the College of the Ozarks in Branson, MO April 3-5. Every two years former presidents and first ladies of church of Christ-affiliated colleges come together to fellowship and brainstorm how they can continue serving Christian higher education. Our foundation President, Michael Crouch, made a compelling case for a renewed spirit of unity and cooperation being the path forward for the viability of our churches and schools and how church-based scholarships were an important piece to practice collaboration while tackling the soaring costs of tuition. Chancellor Baker encouraged everyone to help in any way that they could. Chancellor Milton Sewell of Freed Hardeman likened us to Jack Zorn who founded Lads 2 Leaders. Dr. David Burks of Harding University emphasized the merit of church-based scholarships and said Dr. Crouch would be a fine president of Harding one day. Dr. O’Neal of Oklahoma Christian said he’d help however he could (time permitting).
The Lap of Luxury. I must pause to share how immaculate the Keeter Center, our lodging and conference space, was. Thanks to the generosity of Chancellor Jerry Davis of the College of the Ozarks, we were able to stay in their warm, hospitable, and stunning center at a fraction of the cost and I have never lived so well for those three days. My room was massive and had a jacuzzi. They brought homemade chocolate chip cookies and fresh milk from their farm every night. If I didn’t finish the cookies I would hide the leftovers for fear I might not receive a full cookie batch the following evening. It was a struggle leaving heaven on earth but I have persevered for the sake of the Kingdom.
Grandparents. Sadly, former President and First Lady, Terry and Marty Johnson, of Oklahoma Christian were unable to attend this year’s gathering. This was particularly sad for me as they are my maternal grandparents! However, Mimi and Papa have continued championing the cause for Christian higher education after retiring by helping establish a church-based scholarship at their home church in Marble Falls, TX. The Lord has blessed their work a magnitude more than we could ask or imagine! About 2 of their graduating seniors were attending Christian colleges before they established the fund and now about 10 on average are going to Christian colleges! This is life-giving to the body of believers. Those students have been able to attend colleges where their faith is encouraged and not belittled. All have studied the Bible as a part of their curriculum and many trained to become leaders in the church. Each brought with them a Christian spirit to campus as well as tuition dollars both of which are critical to maintaining healthy Christian colleges. Brothers and sisters, this is why we do what we do. We are working diligently to share this message of collaboration and make it as easy as eating a chocolate chip cookie to set up a scholarship fund at your home church. Churches of Christ have a lot to offer the world and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
Church Matches - Sister colleges help churches support higher education by matching their scholarship funds.
Last November we invited the sister college university presidents to enable the churches to make a significant spiritual and financial impact on their youth by matching church-based scholarship awards.
Matching. Presently five offer matches up to a specific amount per semester you can view them on our website.
New. The only updates from last quarter is that York and Faulkner have expressed interest in a potential church scholarship match program.
Nada. I have yet to hear anything from Florida Christian, Rochester, Lubbock Christian, Southwestern, Crowley’s Ridge, Heritage, nor Nations.
Waiting. Lipscomb is waiting a year to make their decision and Harding, Pepperdine, and Abilene Christian are thinking it over.
New Additions - Harmonize grows its board and corporate partnerships.
Board Member. It is my great pleasure to welcome Michael Mitchell to the Harmonize Board of Directors. Of Michael’s many accolades and areas of expertise, he is foremost someone who loves God and cares deeply for others. This led him to work over a decade at Oklahoma Christian in various alumni and giving roles and is why he currently coaches nonprofit leaders how to do their best work, fundraise, and take care of their spiritual well-being as the Director of Development and Discipleship at the Christian Alliance for Orphans. I am fortunate to have a friend in Michael.
Corporate Partner. We couldn’t make promoting and providing scholarships for Christian higher education such a breeze without our trusted corporate partners. For 25 years the Christian Connector has offered free information from Christian colleges of students’ choosing. They also created an application where students fill out one college application and can apply to a number of Christian colleges with that single application. This company will help our families hear from the sister colleges, find a Christian college that works for them, and make it as easy for students to apply to multiple Christian colleges with a single online application!
Looking Forward - Lots of excitement, hope, and food on the horizon!!
The National Church of Christ Potluck Benefit. Our big hurrah and flagship program will be the National Church of Christ Potluck Benefit. This event will enable volunteer teams to generate excitement in their respective communities for their fund and Christian higher education while also raising money for scholarships. If scholarship awards weren’t enough to generate interest, participating churches will be sharing their best potluck dish with the others so that we can offer attendees the best food the collective churches of Christ have to offer. You better believe I will be attending as many of these potluck benefits as humanly possible…
Volunteer Training. It will take a village to train teams to put on this event so we are working on some volunteer training materials.
Marketing. We are doing a branding, messaging, and website overhaul which includes videography work.
University Involvement. I’ll be reaching out to all of the sister colleges’ directors of admissions to request their involvement in finding volunteers for the Potluck Benefit and also if their university will offer a match on church-based awards.
Fundraising Galore. Last quarter we raised $9,000 in scholarships. This quarter was slower in that I raised nothing… I’ll need to make up for that in Q3, especially in preparation for the National Potluck.
Gratitude - In addition to expressing my deepest gratitude for the support of people and institutions mentioned above I wanted to thank…
Dr. O’Neal and Chancellor Baker for helping me attend the Former Presidents Conference.
J. Wrenfrow and her diligent staff for taking such great care of us at the Keeter Center.
D. Carter with Betty Lou’s Flowers and Gifts for donating a beautiful bouquet to liven the Former Presidents Conference. All gifts now 50-75% off!!!
OC’s alumni office for graciously including Harmonize in their Vision alumni magazine and in slides at the beginning of their annual Associates Gala.
The Harmonize Board for their wisdom, prayers, dedication, connections, and donations.
Keep us in your prayers. The labor is difficult but the heavenly reward is great. Keep pressing on.
J. Tyler Clark
Harmonize Founder and CEO