NASHVILLE, TN—During a called session September 23-24, the Board of Trustees at Free Will Baptist Bible College voted unanimously to broaden its earlier directive for a name-change feasibility study by selecting “Welch College” as the contingent new name for the college, according to President Matt Pinson. The proposal came as the 68-year-old flagship denominational institution prepares to launch a study to determine if it is feasible to change the college’s name. The study could result in a formal name-change recommendation to the National Association of Free Will Baptists.
Dr. Pinson said, “The college will be conducting a careful study over the next several months to determine the feasibility of changing its name to Welch College. If the study indicates a climate conducive for a name change, results will be presented to delegates at the 2011 national convention, along with the recommended name change and a motion to lay the proposal on the table for one year.”
A legal issue prompting the Board of Trustees to identify a specific name is the matter of trademark law, which keeps corporations from using names that other corporations with a similar corporate purpose or market are already using. The application process with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register Welch College as a trademark is a procedure that could take several months, and Trustees felt that it was best to initiate the search process now.
The name “Welch College” arises from the life and ministry of Reverend John L Welch and his wife Mary. Welch was the first moderator of the National Association of Free Will Baptists and a 12-year-member of the Board of Trustees. He pastored 53 years at Cofer’s Chapel Free Will Baptist Church in Nashville. John Welch championed education among Free Will Baptists and embodied the ideals of Christian ministry, combining serious biblical preaching and a concern for doctrine with vibrant spirituality, an evangelistic heart, and a practical approach to ministry and the Christian life.
Mrs. Mary Welch served faithfully as a secretary at the college, spent nearly 60 years as a pastor’s wife, and was a leader in the denomination’s women’s movement. For almost five decades, there has been a building on campus named in honor of John and Mary Welch, the historic Welch Library.
An expanded rationale for the contingent name change to Welch College will be published in the February-March 2011 issue of ONE Magazine.