Tim Owen Joins Welch Advancement Team

Tim Owen, highly respected pastor and denominational leader, will become the Director of the Welch Fund for Welch College, according to David Williford, Vice President for Institutional Advancement.

Owen, a Florida native, is a 1982 graduate of Welch. His wife Karen is also a graduate. Most of Owen’s ministry was spent in his home state of Florida where he served three churches for thirty years. He was also active in state leadership, serving as moderator of the Florida State Association of Free Will Baptists for sixteen years.

In addition to his work in Florida, Tim served on the board of directors of Randall House Publications for fourteen years with the last eight as board chairman. Tim’s most recent ministry was Director of Events at Randall House. The experience gained in that ministry works well with the special fundraising events he will coordinate as Director of the Welch Fund.

Williford said, “We are thrilled to have Tim join our team at Welch. He brings immense credibility with pastors and leaders. This position requires trust on the part of those who will accept him as a representative of the college, and he has spent a lifetime developing that trust. We welcome him to Welch.”

“I’m excited to join the team at my alma mater,” Owen said. “My wife and I are both graduates of Welch, as are two of our sons. The college has made a huge impact on lives around the world, and I’m excited to be part of what God is doing there. There is a great opportunity for an institution like ours to impact the lives of young people. I’m happy to be part of telling the Welch story to donors, parents, and prospective students.”

President Matt Pinson said, “I’ve known and respected Tim Owen for many years. An experienced and successful pastor when I began my ministry in West Florida, he was an encouragement to me as a young pastor. I’ve greatly admired the combination of professionalism and love for people that has characterized his ministry. He’ll be a tremendous asset to us here at Welch.”

Owen will begin his work at Welch April 1. He can be reached at towen@welch.edu.

Edwards Announces Resignation

After ten years as Director of the Welch Fund, Dr. Mike Edwards has announced that he and his wife Karen will be leaving Welch College, according to David Williford, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Welch.

Edwards will assume the role of Head of School at Faith Christian Academy in Effingham, South Carolina. FCA is a ministry of the Lebanon Free Will Baptist Church, where the Edwardses’ son Chris serves as Associate Pastor. Edwards’s new responsibilities begin June 1.

The Edwardses have served Welch College for more than fifteen years in two different stints of employment. They first served as resident directors from 1992 to 1997 while Mike was a student. Upon their return to Welch in 2011, Mike and Karen again assumed the role of resident directors in addition to his responsibilities directing the Welch Fund. Karen also served as manager of West End, the student snack shop and WelchWear store.

“Karen and I have thoroughly enjoyed our ministry at Welch,” Edwards said. “We had anticipated finishing our ministry here, but we’ve been given the opportunity to serve alongside our son in the ministry at the Lebanon Free Will Baptist my Church in Effingham, SC. I think most fathers would find it difficult to turn down the opportunity that has come my way. Karen and I are grateful to Welch for the wonderful years we’ve spent here. We have nothing but love in our hearts for the college and its ministry.”

Williford said, “Mike came here ten years ago as a stranger to me. Over the years, he has become one of my dearest friends and confidants. His cooperative spirit and gung-ho attitude have been the trademarks that characterized his ministry. He refined and expanded the work of the Office of Institutional Advancment and leaves it a much better place than he found it.”

President Matt Pinson said, “Mike and Karen were dorm dad and mom to hundreds of young men during their time at Welch. Mike has represented the college with impeccable character and class. Melinda and I love these choice servants of God, and we’re going to miss them dearly here at Welch. But we’re confident they’re following divine guidance and are going to flourish there in South Carolina.”

Edwards will continue to serve Welch in two capacities. He will serve as a regional representative for the states of North and South Carolina, and he will also continue his role as Adjunct Instructor in the online program of the college.

Dr. Mary Ruth Wisehart dies at age 88

Dr. Mary Ruth Wisehart, long-time Welch professor, died earlier this morning. She was 88 years old.

Dr. Wisehart began teaching at Welch in January of 1956 and continued until 1985. After graduating from Welch in 1955, she received her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from George Peabody College in Nashville, now a part of Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Wisehart taught English, speech, literature, and Spanish. She also helped collect and organize much of the historical information about the college’s early years. After leaving Welch, she served thirteen years as the Executive Director of Women Nationally Active for Christ, the national women’s organization of the National Association of Free Will Baptists.

Please join the college family in prayers for the family and friends of Mary Ruth Wisehart, as well as in prayers of thanks for her enduring work for the kingdom of God.

Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) to Visit Welch College

Welch College, (Gallatin, TN) will be hosting a comprehensive accreditation visit by a team of evaluators from the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) April 19-22, 2021 to determine its compliance with the standards for accreditation. During the visit, representatives of the ABHE team will entertain comments from the public. Any members of the public interested in making a presentation regarding the College to the team should contact the College at the following telephone number (615) 675-5322 or email address (khester@welch.edu) to determine a meeting time. Persons wishing to submit third-party comments related to the institution may send them to Dr. Ron Kroll, Director, Commission on Accreditation, 5850 T. G. Lee Blvd., Suite 130, Orlando, FL, 32822. Persons interested in reviewing the standards for accreditation will find them on the ABHE website at abhe.org. They appear under “about accreditation.” The institution is subject to the Institutional Accreditation Standards.

Transition in Welch Women’s Soccer Program

Greg Fawbush, Athletic Director at Welch College, announced an upcoming transition in the women’s soccer program. Leslie Nichols, who has served as head coach since inception of the soccer program in 2018, will become the soccer coordinator for both the men’s and women’s teams.

Dr. Jon Wilson will become the head coach for both the men’sand women’s programs. In her new role, Coach Nichols will oversee the spiritual growth program of the women’s soccer team, serve as assistant coach for the women’s soccer program,and handle day-to-day operations for both teams. 

“Coach Nichols has done a tremendous job the past three years with the startup of the women’s soccer program” Fawbush said. Leslie recently accepted a new position as College Missions Coordinatorwith IM, Inc. Thus the timing for this transition is perfect for everyone in the programs. Coach Wilson will bring years of experience and knowledge to the women’s soccer program.” 

Those interested in learning more about intercollegiate soccer at Welch College are invited to contact Jon Wilson (jwilson@welch.edu), Greg Fawbush (gfawbush@welch.edu), or Leslie Nichols (lnichols@welch.edu).

Commencement Update March 17, 2021

 Dear Members of the Classes of 2020 and 2021,

We have been praying for you and are excited about what God is already doing and is going to do through you for His kingdom.

I wanted to write you with an update on Commencement activities for this May. We plan to have three Commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 7th, at 10:00, 2:00, and 7:00.

The three ceremonies will be for the following categories of graduates:

  • Bachelor’s degree recipients in the Class of 2021 at 10:00
  • The Class of 2020 at 2:00
  • Associate’s and master’s degree recipients in the Class of 2021 at 7:00.

Owing to physical distancing requirements, each graduate will be permitted to have a maximum of 4 guests in the in-person ceremony, as well as a maximum of 3 guests in overflow areas set up for viewing the livestream of each ceremony.

We will be sending out R.s.v.p. surveys soon to see how many guests each graduate will be inviting. Bachelor’s degree recipients of the Class of 2021 will, as usual, be required to attend the Commencement ceremony. Attendance for associate’s and master’s degree recipients for the Class of 2021, as well as all degree recipients for the Class of 2020, is optional. Thus the R.s.v.p. surveys will also seek to ascertain who in categories (b) and (c) above plan to attend.

There will be a virtual awards ceremony, and there will be no graduate breakfast or Baccalaureate service. Further details about other Commencement-related activities will be communicated in the near future.

I want to thank you for your patience with us as we navigate these situations in a difficult set of circumstances owing to COVID-19. We look forward to celebrating with you this momentous occasion in your journey.


Matt Pinson

Nursing Partnership Information Session at Welch College March 29

Desiring a career in Nursing? Learn more about the unique opportunity to obtain both an Associate’s and a Bachelor’s degree through the Nursing Partnership program with Welch College and Union University Hendersonville. Students completing the program are well qualified for their practice and are in demand throughout the mid-state. In addition, students with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree are eligible in the future to pursue an advanced practice degree while employed as a nurse.

Welch and Union are both faith-based institutions that emphasize the specific nursing competencies and human relations skills to excel as a nurse. Both are nationally ranked for academic excellence. Students enter as a freshman at Welch College and are eligible for the Tennessee Promise and other academic scholarships. Those who complete the two-year Associate’s degree and meet academic standards are guaranteed admission to Union in Hendersonville. The partnership program offers a low-cost alternative to other private university nursing options with no delay in obtaining a degree and licensure. Students who begin the application process now will receive an additional $2,000 incentive scholarship at Welch.

The Nursing Information Session will be held on the Welch College campus in Coffman Hall on Monday evening, March 29, at 6:30. Interested prospective students, parents, and non-traditional adult students are encouraged to attend. Leadership from both Welch and Union will be present to share more information and provide application instructions. For more information go to www.welch.edu/nursing.

Tim Johnson to Lead Intercultural Studies Program at Welch

Tim and Kristi Johnson will serve as Missionaries-in-Residence at Welch College beginning in August. Tim will then transition into a full-time position with Welch College in August of 2022 as a faculty member and Program Coordinator of Intercultural Studies.

Tim and Kristi Johnson were appointed as career missionaries in 1997. During their first years in Spain, they completed language school and began their ministry in Villalba. In 2005, Tim and Kristi joined Anthony and Lea Edgmon in a new church plant in Alpedrete. Tim said, “While it is sad to leave the place that God called our family to over 22 years ago, I look forward to this opportunity at Welch College to train future missionaries as they help fulfill the Great Commission.” Teammate Anthony Edgmon added, “The Johnsons have been outstanding, highly gifted teammates and friends. We consider them family. We are thankful and privileged to have served alongside them throughout their years in Spain.”

Clint Morgan, General Director of IM, Inc., the international missions board of the National Association of Free Will Baptists, said, “Leaving the field to return to the U.S. is always difficult for missionaries. But when a missionary leaves their field, with the knowledge they will not return, it is an exceptionally challenging life event. The Johnsons are taking on a new, exciting, and demanding ministry, teaching missions at Welch College. They have ministered for 22 years to the wonderful people of Spain, and I am confident they will bring that same level of commitment and passion as Missionary-in-Residence and as head of the missions program at Welch.”

Tim is filling the role of retiring professor Dr. Ron Callaway. “Dr. Callaway is a great friend to IM. He and his wife Linda served as missionaries to Panama, Cuba, and Spain from 1976 to 2003,” Morgan said.

Welch Provost Matthew McAffee said, “We are excited to welcome Mr. Johnson to our campus community, first as Missionary-in-Residence, and then as full-time faculty member and coordinator of our missions program. We believe his successful years of missionary service in Spain highly qualify him to take up the mantle of training our future Free Will Baptist missionaries. We commend Dr. Ron Callaway for his faithful oversight of the program these past eighteen years. He is leaving behind a strong and vibrant missions program poised for Mr. Johnson’s leadership.”

Welch President Matt Pinson said, “Tim and Kristi Johnson have established themselves as dedicated missionaries on the field in Spain, and they’re a perfect fit to mentor the next generation of young missionaries at Welch College! Lots of eager young heralds of the good news across the world have been trained under the leadership of beloved Ronald Callaway. We’re going to miss him dearly. But I’m so glad a man of Tim Johnson’s caliber is coming on board to carry the torch and build on the foundation.”

Tim and Kristi have two children, Alejandro and Ana. Alejandro is currently attending Welch College, where he has plans to work on his M.Div. degree after graduation next year. He also serves as a Worship Ministry Intern at Cofer’s Chapel in Nashville, TN. Ana studies in Spain bilingually in French and Spanish and will graduate from high school in June. She will participate in Truth and Peace this summer and attend Welch in the Fall.

Curt Holland, Director of Field Ministry Personnel for IM, Inc., said, “IM is confident in Tim’s capacity to serve students, missionary candidates at Welch College, and the Free Will Baptist denomination at large. I am thankful for Tim’s faithfulness in serving with IM in the country of Spain for more than 22 years. And, I watch with great expectation as he works with our college students in this new avenue of ministry.”

For more information about Missions at Welch, please contact Dr. Ron Callaway at 615-675-5339 or rcally@welch.edu.

Ronald Callaway to Retire from Welch

Dr. Ronald Callaway, longstanding Program Coordinator of Intercultural Studies at Welch College, will retire at the end of the spring semester, according to Provost Dr. Matthew McAffee. Callaway has served as Program Coordinator of Intercultural Studies for eighteen years, assuming the position in the fall of 2003.

Before coming to Welch, Callaway and his wife Linda served as missionaries in Spain, Panama, and Cuba with Free Will Baptist International Missions. During their time in Spain (1977-1995), Callaway filled the role of pastor of a church plant in Alcalá de Henares (1979-1981), worked in a church plant in Móstoles (1982-1995), and taught in the Spanish Free Will Baptist Institute (1985-1995). Since 1989, he has been involved with missionary activity in Cuba, especially in the training of church leaders in the Free Will Baptist seminary Los Cedros del Líbano. He also served as a member of the Free Will Baptist Bible Institute of Panama from 1997-2003, becoming its director in 2000, and has continued to teach as a visiting faculty member at the Seminario Bautista Libre de Panamà since 2005.

As Program Coordinator of Intercultural Studies, Callaway has continued in his ministry of the gospel to the Spanish-speaking world of Free Will Baptists. He has translated several important Free Will Baptist works into Spanish, including F. Leroy Forlines’ Systematics and Robert E. Picirilli’s Grace, Faith, and Free Will, with several other translation projects currently in progress.

“Dr. Callaway came to Welch College with an impressive résumé of missionary service in Spanish-speaking contexts among Free Will Baptists,” McAffee said. “But his efforts in global evangelization did not end when he became professor of Missions. He has mentored almost two decades of Free Will Baptist missionaries, both in the classroom and on the field, at the same time. We are grateful for the legacy that Professor Callaway has established for Missions at Welch College.”

Dr. Callaway, a native of Texas, served in the United States Navy from 1965-1972 before coming to Welch as a student, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible and Missions in 1975. He went on to complete the Master of Divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1997. While a faculty member at Welch, Dr. Callaway also earned a Doctor of Ministry in Missiology from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, which he completed in 2014. The Welch Board of Trustees named him Professor of Intercultural Studies when the college implemented faculty rank in 2019.

Welch president Matt Pinson said, “Recently I overheard a Free Will Baptist national leader talking about how many young missionaries had emerged from Ronald Callaway’s mentorship. Indeed, what he has done in missions education and shaping the lives of young missionaries has been impressive. It arises from a keen mind, a humble heart, and a love for people, wed with a biblical worldview that places the Great Commission at the heart of the church’s task. We will miss this dear friend and servant of God immensely, but his legacy among Welch graduates across the world will endure.”

The Callaways have one daughter, Rachel DeMerchant who ministers in Canada with her husband Aaron and their three children.

For more information about Missions (Intercultural Studies) at Welch, please contact Dr. Ron Callaway at 615-675-5339or rcally@welch.edu.

Charles Wise to Leave Welch

Welch College Technology Director Charles Wise announced his resignation from Welch College, according to Craig Mahler, Vice President for Financial Affairs.

Wise, a 1995 Welch graduate who has served as Technology Director since 1999, will be taking a position close to his childhood home in North Carolina. He and his wife Stephanie, a 1994 Welch graduate, will relocate soon after he completes his service at Welch on March 18. Wise’s daughter Emily will be graduating from Welch with a degree in Psychology this May. Daughter Anna attends Columbia International University.

Mahler said, “I sincerely appreciate Charles for his effective and faithful service to Welch students, faculty, and staff. We will miss Charles greatly, and we wish him well as he returns to North Carolina for his new position and to be closer to family.”

Reflecting on his time at Welch, Wise states, “After more than 25 years of involvement with the college, I am astonished at the caliber of people, both faculty and staff, that have been connected with Welch. It is an amazing place, and I will continue to support Welch College in the years to come.”

The college is working with Mr. Wise and Trident Technology Solutions, who consulted with Welch during construction and continues to provide network support, to develop plans for meeting this important need of students, faculty, and staff.

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For the latest information about coronavirus, visit welch.edu/coronavirus