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Ben Cross (OCC ’11) just wanted to study preaching. After soaking up every Ozark preaching class he could, he wanted to keep growing. But the educational door was shut. We need your help to “open the door” for Ozark students like Ben. Read on to find out how…
Ben Cross came from New Mexico to study at Ozark. He loved chips and green chili, excelled as a student, preached at Irwin Community Church, and served as Preaching Professor Mark Scott’s grader. On Facebook, he listed a favorite quote, “There are three types of preachers: those to whom you cannot listen, those to whom you can listen, and those to whom you must listen.” Ben longed to proclaim Christ in a way that others “must listen.”
After graduation, he applied for the master’s preaching program at Candler School of Theology. But despite his stellar
academic record, Ben was denied admittance. Why? His degree from Ozark wasn’t regionally accredited (although it is nationally accredited). Other alumni have had similar experiences—denied entrance to master’s programs and, in some states, turned down for substitute teaching because their degree was not regionally accredited.
So eight years ago, OCC’s leadership wrestled with a question—should we seek regional accreditation? We considered the facts:
- The U.S. Department of Education recognizes two types of accreditation: regional and national.
- Regional accreditation usually applies to broader academic institutions (like liberal arts colleges and state universities), while national accreditation applies to specialized vocational colleges (like nursing colleges or business schools).
- Ozark is a specialized ministry school, so for over 30 years, OCC has been nationally accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education, which we intend to keep.
- While many Bible colleges have only this national accreditation, some have added regional accreditation as well.
- The regional accreditation process is rigorous, examining every aspect of a college’s academics and operation. The process is also long—eight years!—and it isn’t cheap.
Despite the costs, the OCC trustees decided in 2012 to pursue adding regional accreditation. Now, eight years later, we’ve almost completed the process, and you can help us finish strong. Why did our leaders seek regional accreditation? Two reasons.
The first reason: it will make us a more effective ministry school. Academically, our alumni have flourished in grad programs at universities like Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge, as well as seminaries like Lincoln, Southern Baptist, and Gordon-Conwell. Practically, our graduates have served fruitfully in thousands of churches and mission fields. We’ve been doing good work…but we could always do better.
The trustees knew: the accreditation process would challenge us to greater excellence with wise advice from seasoned educators (many of them faith-based). Proverbs 11:14 counsels, “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.” We wanted all the good help we could get because we’re training workers for the Great Commission. Our mission matters too much to risk mediocrity.
The second reason: it will open doors for our graduates. When alumni like Ben Cross sense the Lord’s leading to further studies, we wanted them to have as many opportunities as possible. While regional accreditation is never a guarantee of credit transfer or degree acceptance, it does increase the likelihood.
So for the last eight years, we’ve walked through the process. It’s helped tremendously, and in 2016, we were granted “candidate for accreditation” status with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Earlier this month, an HLC peer review team visited our campus, and by the end of 2020, we hope to be granted full regional accreditation status.
Here’s where we need your help: the process carries financial costs. This year, we’ve budgeted $36,700 for accreditation purposes. Would you help cover the $36,700 in accreditation expenses—to sharpen Ozark in her mission and open doors for her graduates?
You are such an important part of Ozark’s ministry. In his providence, God has gathered a particular group of people—including you—as partners in this mission of training men and women for Christian service. You’ve heard me say this before, because it’s very true: We can’t do this work without you.
So would you consider a generous gift to help with these expenses? Click here to give now. We believe that $36,700 will be money well-spent—not just for regional accreditation approval, but because it will help us be a school “approved unto God” (2 Tim 2:15). We want to prepare the best workers we can for the Lord’s harvest field. Thank you for partnering with us in that great mission!
Yours in Christ,
Matt Proctor, President
P.S. I forgot to finish the story: Ben Cross did earn a master’s in preaching from Spurgeon’s College in London. He now serves with the preaching team at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where he’s helped preaching ministers Dave Stone and Kyle Idleman and coached their ministry residents in preaching. Thanks for considering a gift and for preparing kingdom servants like Ben!