Recent reports of Hannibal-LaGrange University’s financial crisis may have come as a surprise to many, but those most invested in the school have taken action to help the school during this challenging season.
Immanuel Baptist Church in Hannibal, Missouri, is among those who responded to the news through a $100,000 donation to the university. Edgewood Baptist Church, Bowling Green, and other churches across the state are also rallying to sustain HLGU’s mission of Christian higher education for generations to come. Read full report from The Pathway.
Also, the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Executive Board voted during a Zoom meeting, April 7, to forward $60,000 each month for the next three months to HLGU to help them through this transitional period.
The funds, according to the board’s recommendation “serve as an advance of the approximate funds HLGU would receive from Cooperative Program giving in October, November and December.”
“Any excess funds made in advance to HLGU is considered a gift from the MBC,” the recommendation added. “If Cooperative Program does not meet its goal of $15 million, the available may offset the cost of the advance.”
‘The Lord was leading us to give’
Anthony Schindler, pastor of Hannibal’s roughly 200-member Immanuel Baptist Church, said the news of the university’s dire financial position gave rise to deep compassion within the church body.
“HLGU is not a distant, theoretical school for us,” Schindler said. “We know these families. We know their names and love them. Many of them come to our church and our sister churches.”
According to Schindler, individuals and families were experiencing grief and doubt, wondering whether they were going to be able to make ends meet and if they had made the right decision to come to Hannibal. The church’s choice to give generously was thus driven by personal care.
“When we heard about the need, we decided we needed to bring it before the church and ask whether the Lord was leading us to give,” Schindler said.
“The question we considered was what God was calling us to do,” Schindler said. “Here’s their situation. Here’s our situation. We were asking, ‘How can we be faithful?’”
On March 27, the church held a business meeting where they heard a report from the church’s financial team, as well as a report from Robert Matz, Immanuel Baptist Church member and executive vice president at HLGU. After the presentations, a member made a motion to give HLGU the $100,000 gift. The vote carried with a large majority.
Pastor Schindler said the presence of the Lord was evident in the church’s enthusiasm to give.
“That’s what I’ve loved about being a part of Immanuel,” Schindler said. “When there is a need, the people step up to take care of the need. I don’t think you can go wrong being too generous.
“We wrote the check that night,” he added.
‘Investment in the future’
Pastor Schindler’s hope is that the example of Immanuel Baptist Church will not only be a sign of God’s provision, but also prompt other churches and individuals to give just as generously.
““I believe God has a future for HLGU. I believe they are going to find their way. I believe that because I know them, and I know how tirelessly and faithfully they are working on it.” he said.
“I think the church’s gift is an investment in the future of our convention and our churches. There is a school here that wants to be a part of that vision; they just need help. Now.”
One-week prior to Immanuel Baptist’s decision, rural Edgewood Baptist Church, Bowling Green, took a similar step of faith.
Pastor Mark Albee brought HLGU’s financial plight to the attention of the church during a regular business meeting. As discussion proceeded, this small church kept increasing the amount they wanted to give.
“It started at $2,500, then $5,000, then $10,000,” Albee said. “HLGU provides a great Christian liberal-arts education that helps students to develop a Christian worldview. Our members, many of whom have close connections to the school, recognize its incredible value to our community and our church. We want to provide for HLGU to keep its mission alive for a new generation of students.”
Other churches giving or pledging large gifts to the school in the last two weeks include Waypoint Church in Harvester, Lynwood Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau and First Baptist Church of Kearney.
Matz, HLGU executive vice president, noted, “We exist to serve the churches, to train future leaders across a wide variety of disciplines in a distinctively Christian environment that integrates Christian faith and learning. These gifts from churches from across the state speak to the value that Missouri Baptists see in institutions like HLGU. We greatly appreciate them and pray that God will multiply them beyond measure to allow us to continue providing the high-quality unapologetically Christian university education for which we have become known.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Tim Howe and originally published by The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.