JOPLIN, Mo. —
A warm smile settled gently across the face of Bob Scott. The veteran minister, relaxing in the easy chair of his Joplin home, had just begun a trip down memory lane with fond recollections of Ozark Christian College lighting the way.
The college that Scott calls the grandest thing in his life marks its 70th anniversary Tuesday, and if a roll of honor happens to be announced, Scott and his family will undoubtedly be near the top.
Although most of the churches where Scott has preached have been in Iowa, OCC alumni have taken the love of Christ with them to 48 other states as well as over 100 countries, according to Matt Proctor, who has been at the college’s helm since being named president-elect in 2005.
Another point of pride, and rightly so, that Proctor points out is that 14,000 alumni have been sent to every time zone on the planet.
Scott, a vibrant 85-year-old who still steps into the pulpit when called upon, has links to OCC that are as remarkable as the past achievements of the college itself.
Not only did Scott attend OCC, graduating in 1950, so did his wife, Cecil, and all five of their sons and their sons’ wives. Even many of Bob and Cecil’s 20 grandchildren have attended OCC. By the way, four of the Scott sons went on to become ministers themselves.
Another amazing fact is that since 1967, there has never been a time when a member of the Scott family has not attended OCC, which moved to Joplin in 1944 two years after being established in Bentonville, Ark., as Ozark Bible College.
The college was founded during a time when many churches in the Four State Area had been closed, and many more were without preachers. The idea, of course, was to provide preachers to help revive the churches. In addition to ministers, the college has gone on to train missionaries, Christian musicians, church secretaries, educational directors and assistant ministers Ñ not to mention elders, deacons and volunteer workers in local churches.
As Proctor said, OCC started with a small group of men dreaming of a college with the sole purpose of training men and women for Christian service. Today it remains focused on that mission.
A mere seven years after the birth of Ozark Bible College, enrollment jumped from the original 16 students in Arkansas to 123 at its Joplin location, which was based in a large house at 516 N. Wall Ave. The OBC house had an addition built on in 1948 and provided two classrooms, a small chapel and a dining room.
This was a time when most of the full-time faculty preached every weekend. Area ministers assisted as part-time instructors, and students were involved in area church services on the weekends.
Another addition in 1953, adding more classrooms, a library and a large chapel, enabled the college to accommodate 176 students who enrolled in the fall of 1954. It wasn’t long before OBC reached its maximum capacity. So 40 acres on North Main Street were purchased in 1959, with an eye on the future. The college welcomed 309 students to its new campus in 1963, with enrollment increasing every year during the decade of the ’60s.
The name changed to Ozark Christian College in 1985 when OBC consolidated with Midwest Christian College of Oklahoma City, Okla. A record enrollment of 849 students was set in the fall of 2005, while the current enrollment averages between 600 and 700. There are 27 full-time teachers and 40 part-time teachers on the staff.
Although Scott has never taught at the college, he served two years as alumni director. His son, Mark, was a professor and academic dean at OCC up until last year, when he left to take a minister’s position in Colorado. Tom and Tim Scott are ministers of Christian churches in Iowa, and Philip Scott is the minister of First Christian Church of Dodge City, Kan. Dan, the oldest of the five Scott boys, is in business in Lowell, Ark.
Bob Scott said he impressed on his sons when they were in high school that they needed to go to Bible college at least one year.
“I told them they are always going to be Christians, so whether it means simply being Sunday school teachers, elders or deacons, they need to have a knowledge of the Bible and need to know people who are working in the kingdom of God,” he said. “I think the church is the most wonderful thing that God ever invented, and I am so thankful the Lord has opened the doors and blessed us.”
Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email email@example.com.