October 20, 2018, was an exciting day for Emmanuel College as they celebrated their 99th year during the annual homecoming weekend. An International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC) institute of higher education founded by G. F. Taylor, Emmanuel has trained thousands of young men and women for full-time ministry and Christian service. Many who sat in the Swails Center shared life-changing experiences from their college days.
The road for Emmanuel has not been without its challenges. The last four years have produced multiple financial hurdles and obstacles. However, on this Saturday afternoon, alumni and friends gathered to give thanks to God for His faithfulness and provision.
Faced with a debt of over $35 million, in 2014 President Ron White called the college and church to “Pray First and Pray Through.” Throughout the crisis, White sent regular emails to supporters and friends of Emmanuel urging them to pray for wisdom and guidance. According to President White, “If this crisis has taught us anything, it has taught us that prayer is first. We must pray before we plan, make decisions, or take actions.”
Dr. White began the thanksgiving service by stating, “Today, we are here to celebrate our deliverance and to honor those God used to make our deliverance possible.” Throughout the evening, members of the board of trustees expressed their gratitude for the faculty, staff, church, donors, creditors, investors, and countless others who helped the college develop unconventional, creative solutions to reduce the debt from $35 million to $8.4 million. Many unsung heroes also gave of their time and resources to assist the college in practical ways. The details of this journey will be shared in a book scheduled to be released in 2019.
Bishop Tommy McGhee, who serves as the chairman of the Church Institutions Board, and Rev. Reggie Till, director of the IPH Foundation, received the Medallion Award, the highest honor given by Emmanuel College. In 2014, McGhee rallied alumni to raise $1.3 million in four months when the college faced a critical deadline. According to Dr. White, “If it weren’t for Tommy McGhee, the college wouldn’t be here today.” In 2017, Till volunteered to organize a financial entity, Carolina Education and Ministry Investors, which provided strategic plans for restructuring debt and creating financial stability for the college.
“The miracle thanksgiving service at Emmanuel College reminded me of the meaning of Emmanuel’s name, ‘God with us,’” shares IPHC General Superintendent Dr. A.D. Beacham, Jr. “All of our IPHC institutions are vital, and what has occurred at Emmanuel College inspires our faith for what God will do in the future.”
Emmanuel realizes that this is not the end of the road, there are challenging days ahead. However, the future is bright and promising. According to Dr. White, “The future must be marvelous and exciting. Why else would God have rescued us?” He says the college must “think different” and envisions a college that is global and transformational. Believing it is important for young people to receive an education in a Christian environment where they can sense the drawing of the Holy Spirit and respond to His call, White says Emmanuel will focus on training the students of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church and others for exceptional Christian leadership.
Next year, Emmanuel will celebrate its centennial along with Franklin Springs PH Church and LifeSprings Resources. President White invites all of Emmanuel’s friends and alumni to be present for this special occasion on October 18-20, 2019.