Welch College is owned and operated by the National Association of Free Will Baptists and is governed by a board of trustees elected by that association. The college subscribes to the beliefs and practices set forth in the Free Will Baptist Treatise.
The National Association of Free Will Baptists founded the college as Free Will Baptist Bible College in 1942. The Board of Education of the National Association chose Nashville as an ideal site for the new college, centrally located among the major centers of the denominational population in the Southeast, Southwest, and Midwest.
The Board of Education selected Georgia native Linton C. Johnson as the college’s first president, a post he held for 34 years. The ministry of Dr. Johnson and his wife Ruth was of singular influence in shaping the character of the college, its sponsoring denomination, and its theological expression in the twentieth century. Under his leadership, the college moved from a fledgling Bible school to a comprehensive, accredited Bible college with numerous new buildings and programs of study.
The college purchased one building on Richland Avenue in the historic Richland-West End neighborhood, which later became known as Davidson Hall. Eight students gathered there in 1942, comprising the original student body. The original faculty and staff numbered four, including such luminaries as Laura Belle Barnard, J. R. Davidson, and Henry Melvin. Originally a two-year institution, the college added a third year of study in 1949 and a fourth year in 1950, and awarded its first bachelor’s degrees to five seniors in 1951.
In 2012 the college changed its name to Welch College to signify its development into a more comprehensive Christian college. The college is named for John L Welch and his wife Mary. Welch was the leading figure in bringing together eastern and western Free Will Baptists to establish the National Association of Free Will Baptists in 1935, having served as the first moderator and secretary of education of that association.
In addition to Dr. L. C. Johnson, Welch College has been led by four presidents: L. R. Ennis (1944-1947), Dr. Charles A. Thigpen (1979-1990), Dr. C. Thomas Malone (1990-2002), and Dr. J. Matthew Pinson (2002-present). Today the College enrolls about 315 students annually from approximately 22 states and several international countries.
Community - We're better together
This is an exciting time to be at Welch College where education consists of more than courses and textbooks. Although most students will have left family behind when coming here, the close-knit community of the college will allow them to feel at home. Faculty and staff are friendly and accessible, and numerous student organizations—including various ministry groups, societies, intramural activities, dramatic and musical groups, and more—provide students many opportunities to develop meaningful relationships that will last their entire lives.
On Campus Activities
Block Party Block Party is a college family picnic which takes place the Friday of the second full week of each fall semester. The picnic is followed by a campus club parade, games, and entertainment.
Rush Night Rush Night happens the Friday of the third full week of each fall semester. Four men’s clubs (Apha Chi Omega Society, John Bunyan Society, Pi Gamma Chi Society, and the William Jennings Bryan Society), four women’s clubs (Christina Rossetti Society, Elizabeth Barrett Browning Society, Louisa Mae Alcott Society, and the Charlotte Bronte Society), and the Commuter Council have competed since the beginning of the semester for members. The night is filled with video comedies created by the clubs who are making one last attempt to convince new students to join their organization. The event ends in the gym when new students are placed at mid-court and given two minutes to “rush” to their chosen club. Every student is expected to join one of the clubs to which they will be a member while they attend Welch College. These clubs help give each person a sense of social place, purpose and connectedness to our campus.
Welch Film Festival Welch Film Festival is an annual event that was started in 2008 as a means of encouraging the development and appreciation of videography as an art form and ministry tool. The festival is open to entries from church youth groups, alumni, and members of the Welch College family. Awards are given for Best Picture, Best Performance, Best in Technical Merit, and other categories at the judges’ discretion. Click on the festival name above for more details.
Junior/Senior Banquet Each year the junior class organizes a formal banquet and entertainment to honor the Senior class. There is a charge to attend.
Blood Drives Two or three times each year our faculty, staff, and student body participate in on-campus blood drives. The Red Cross sends a mobile team on-site for these events. Welch College has the reputation in Nashville as one of the top per capita giving college campuses.
Super Bowl of Caring Each year, prior to the Super Bowl, our campus clubs compete to see who can collect the most cans of food. In cooperation with the Super Bowl of Caring organization, they are then donated to Second Harvest to be distributed to needy families in our community.
Project Pumpkin Project Pumpkin takes place October 31 each year, unless the day is a Sunday. As an outreach to the community, the student body hosts a mini-carnival as a festival alternative for any children who may want to attend. Campus clubs operate the booths. Hundreds of local church youth and neighborhood children and adults typically attend.
Days of Prayer One unique characteristic of Welch College is an administration, faculty, staff, and student body that sets aside other activities one day each semester to pray. While we turn our hearts toward God more than once a semester, we do enjoy the Day of Prayer as a time to concentrate on the Lord’s blessings and ask for His intervention in our lives.
See You at the Pole See You at the Pole (SYATP) is an annual gathering of Christian students of all ages at a flagpole in front of their local school for prayer, scripture-reading, and hymn-singing during the early morning before school starts. This event occurs every fourth Wednesday of September.
Student Revivals Typically, the Student Council will plan events such as student-led revival services, periods of prayer and fasting, or concerts of prayer to urge each other toward greater commitment to God’s leading and obedience to His Word.
Leadership Training Resident assistants, Student Council members, student mentors, and SpirituaLife leaders come a week early to fall semester for a time of intensive training. They also have a chance for hands-on application of these servant-leader skills as they assist new students during Freshman Orientation, the week before college starts. Brush-up training sessions then continue throughout the year.
Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature (TISL) Welch College supports the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature (TISL) by sending delegates from the Student Council to their annual deliberative sessions on the legislative floor of the state capital. Our representative won the “Best Senator” award in the fall of 2011.
Earn your degree from anywhere
Are you unable to seriously consider relocating for studies as a Welch College campus student? No problem! Welch College can come to where you are, as long as you have a good Internet connection.
This is a perfect program for adults who find themselves already caring for family, church, job, or career. They can work on becoming more effective church or business workers, without having to interrupt their current responsibilities.
If you have the same commitment to faithfulness, excellence and service in all things, then we should talk! Our program is accredited, the same as the campus program. Faithfulness to God’s Word in all things, in all courses, among all students and all faculty. That is Welch College, on campus or online.
This school offers programs in: