Church Relations

The mission of the Office of Church Relations is to cultivate a strong working relationship between the University of Mount Olive and the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists.

The office was first created to assist the Church as it faithfully provided financial support to the University of Mount Olive. As the office has developed and grown, it has actively sought ways to be an effective resource to the Church. This includes providing preachers for Sunday worship services, musicians who help lead worship, and the portfolios of College alumni who are eligible to serve congregations in ministry. At the same time, the Office of Church Outreach helps the University understand the mission and needs of the Church so that the University can serve its founding Church more effectively.

Church Dinners

A key focus of the Office of Church Outreach is the annual fund campaign known as the “Church Dinners,” which are held each fall in 20 eastern North Carolina counties. Since 1963, this program has helped to cultivate the relationship between the Church and the University. The dinner program also provides an excellent source of continuing interaction with our churches. Over the past 55 years the Church has consistently supported the annual fund program with gifts totaling more than $15 million.

In more recent years, a focus has been on Bridge Builders. A Bridge Builder is an individual or church organization that gives an unrestricted gift of $150 or more at their county dinner. Six categories are included as Bridge Builders:

Donors contributing $1,000 or more qualify as University of Mount Olive Society members.

Golden Club $2,500 and above
Founders Club $2,000 to $2,499
Trustees Club $1,000 to $1,999
Presidents Club $500 to $999
Heritage Club $250 to $499
College Club $150 to $249

Click here for important resources for church dinner chairs

If you would like to donate to the church dinners online, click here!

Serving The Church, Our Students, & The Community

Academic Courses

The University of Mount Olive provides courses in theology, biblical studies, pastoral leadership,  church history, and a course in the history of the Original Free Will Baptist denomination.  A grant of $3,000 yearly is given to qualified Free Will Baptist students who are enrolled full time in the traditional program.

Free Will Baptist Historical Collection

Offers research information through the Free Will Baptist Historical Collection, which houses over 15,000 items relating to the history of all Free Will Baptists.

The Challenge

The University received a grant from the Lilly Foundation, encouraging Christian universities to help high school students understand basic theology, in an effort to encourage them to become leaders for the church in the future.  Our first annual week-long event was August, 2016, followed by other events throughout the year. The first year, 26 high school students participated. The participants found this to be a deeply rewarding experience, and some have felt the call to ministry.  Each year, churches are invited to nominate students who are interested in seeking God’s call for their lives.

The Center of Faith and Life

The Center of Faith and Life at UMO is housed in the Chapel Complex.  The Center provides programs for both church relations and chaplain ministries.

The Barrow Family Endowed Fund for Christian Ministries

The Barrow Family Endowed Fund for Christian Ministries was established in 1981 as a memorial to John Owens Barrow and Ida Harrison Barrow, and in honor and memory of their children.

The expressed purpose of the Fund is to foster the relationship between the University of Mount Olive and the Original Free Will Baptist Church and to promote Christian scholarship.

The Fund established a Barrow Professorship in Biblical Studies at the University.  Currently, Dr. John Blackwell serves in that capacity.

In 2015, Dr. Philip P. Kerstetter, President of the University of Mount Olive, established the Barrow Center for Church Leadership.

The Fund has supported many different ministries of the University, including the annual Barrow Lectures and the Challenge: Exploring God’s Call for High School Students.

Financial Assistance for Free Will Baptist Students

The University of Mount Olive provides an annual grant of $3,000 to qualified Free Will Baptist students who are enrolled full time in the traditional program at the Mount Olive location.

Additional Outreach Services

  • Provides microfilm and scanning services to preserve church records/minutes. Efforts are underway to provide digitization as well. In addition, churches are encouraged to deposit their original records to the Manuscripts collection.
  • Each February, provides opportunity for churches to attend a basketball game at FWB Church Night
  • Provides educational and spiritual enrichment lectures, conferences and institutes at UMO, Cragmont Assembly, and at FWB Churches
  • Offers lunch in the dining hall on Sundays
  • Provides facilities that serve as a meeting place
  • Provides entire campus for the annual Convention of Original Free Will Baptists
  • Provides monthly updates through e-newsletters; CLICK HERE to begin receiving these monthly e-newletters