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AS THE OFFICIAL COLLEGE of the Free Will Baptist denomination, Free Will Baptist Bible College has been helping students find their place in God's world since 1942.


NASHVILLE, TN Mrs. Ruth Louise Masser Johnson (90), widow of Dr. L.C. Johnson, first president of Free Will Baptist Bible College, died June 23, 2006, in Norfolk, VA, following a brief illness.

Dr. Charles Thigpen who served as college dean during Dr. Johnson’s presidency, said, “My wife and I met Mrs. Ruth Johnson 58 years ago when we joined the faculty of Free Will Baptist Bible College. She was one of the most gracious ladies that I have ever known. She was an ideal ‘first lady’ of the college, an outstanding hostess, a very gifted person with artistic ability—and yet kind, loving, generous, and compassionate.”

Mrs. Johnson was born December 2, 1915, in Smethport (McKean County), PA, to Charles William and Nellie Kumler Baird Masser. She became a Christian on Easter Sunday in 1933.

She attended Houghton College (NY) two years (1933-1935) before attending Bob Jones College (now Bob Jones University), where she graduated in 1937.

While at Bob Jones, she met and married L.C. Johnson, a Free Will Baptist minister from Georgia. In 1942, the Johnsons moved to Nashville where Dr. Johnson became the first president of Free Will Baptist Bible College. They served together 36 years at the college.

Mrs. Johnson was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. L.C. Johnson. She is survived by her three children, Mr. Paul Johnson of Darien, GA; Mrs. Mary Nell Beck of Norfolk, VA; Colonel (Retired) Mark Johnson of Murfreesboro, TN; nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were conducted at Pine Level FWB Church in Alma, GA, with burial at Pine Level Church Cemetery. Reverends Rolla Smith and Eric Brown, and Dr. Charles Thigpen officiated.




NASHVILLE, TN A group of 14 Free Will Baptist Bible College students and sponsors recently traveled to New York City where they prayed with 373 people, shared the gospel with 273, and reported 27 conversions.

Chris Sloan, FWBBC enrollment counselor, said that team members divided into groups and ministered daily in different parts of the city. They set up prayer stations on the streets with team members wearing red smocks to attract attention, and asked those walking by if they could pray with them.

Mr. Sloan said, “Team members encountered one lady three times at three locations; on the last day, she stopped to pray. We also talked with a young man in the Bronx who had met our New York Mission Team a year ago. He even remembered the first two points of the gospel tract. He prayed and received Christ one year after the seed had been planted.”

Sloan continued, “This was spiritual warfare. We ended each day physically and mentally tired. We were out of our comfort zones, facing our weaknesses, talking to people who had never heard of Jesus.”



NASHVILLE, TN Nine junior high students from First FWB Church in North Little Rock, AR, spent three days in June (26-28) on the FWBBC campus, braving heat and humidity to assist in campus clean-up, according to Ernie Thompson, physical operations supervisor at the college.

 “They showed up ready to work,” Mr. Thompson said. “They grabbed paint brushes, garden hoses, and boxes, and started making a difference the first day. From gardening to power washing to assembling bookcases to hauling heavy boxes of books, this group never flinched. We were glad to have them on campus.”

Sponsors Darren Walker (minister of youth and outreach) and Amanda Hester led the energetic group, most of whom had never visited the college. The students lived in a campus dormitory, ate two meals daily in the dining hall, and went out each evening for dinner. They saw a Nashville Sounds game one night, browsed a large area mall, and enjoyed a taste of Music City cuisine.

The student workers included seven boys and two girls: Ben Campbell, Kassie Cramer, Shane Cramer, Arey Darlingo, Cody Holcomb, Jacob Hudman, Tyler Keeling, Hunter Ulrich, and Tyler Ulrich.

Walker, a 1993 FWBBC graduate, said, “We go on mission trips every summer, some in the USA, some to other countries. Every third year, we bring a group to the college to see the campus and do whatever work is needed.”

The mission group arrived on campus at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, put in three hard days of work, and loaded the white church bus with luggage and memories Thursday morning for the 350-mile trip back to Little Rock. Reverend Mark Stripling pastors First FWB Church.




NASHVILLE, TN The works of Dr. Kevin Hester, professor of Biblical and Ministry Studies, and History at Free Will Baptist Bible College, have been widely published in 2005 and 2006, with a book targeted for late 2006 or 2007. In addition to writing extensive papers, Dr. Hester also led a seminar this summer at the Free Will Baptist national convention in Birmingham, AL, where he presented a paper addressing the controversy surrounding the Da Vinci Code. Some of Dr. Hester’s recent projects include: 

  • “Debunking the Da Vinci Code: Historical and Theological Perspectives for Pastors.” Theological Trends Seminar, sponsored by the Commission for Theological Integrity, National Association of Free Will Baptists, Birmingham, AL, July 17, 2006.

  • “Free Will Baptists,” article in the Encyclopedia of Religious Revivals in America. Ed. Michael McClymond, (Greenwood Press, 2006).

  • Eschatology and Pain in St. Gregory the Great: The Christological Synthesis of Gregory’s Morals on the Book of Job. (Paternoster Press, anticipated late 2006 or early 2007).

  • Book Review: Gregory the Great. John Moorhead. The Early Church Fathers Series, (Routledge, 2005). In Journal of Early Christian Studies 14:1 (Spring 2006): 129-130.

  • “What’s Up With the Da Vinci Code?” Resource Pages for Clear Curriculum. (Randall House, 2006).

  • “Breaking the Da Vinci Code” One Magazine. 1.2. (June-July, 2005).

Dr. Hester graduated from FWBBC in 1993. He earned a Master of Divinity degree at Covenant Theological Seminary (1997) and a Ph.D. at Saint Louis University (2000).



NASHVILLE, TN Mrs. Kathy B. Murphy, professional educator with experience in both the private and public school arenas, will join the Teacher Education faculty for the fall 2006 semester, according to Dr. Milton Fields, vice president for institutional planning.

Dr. Fields said, “Kathy has a strong commitment to excellence in academics and evidences an equally strong commitment to a Christian philosophy of education.”

Mrs. Murphy completed her program of study at FWBBC in 1999 and subsequently graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education. She completed a Master of Education degree in instructional effectiveness at Trevecca Nazarene University, and plans to pursue a doctorate in curriculum with an early childhood emphasis. She has a double teaching licensure with the Tennessee Department of Education and the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools.

A Middle Tennessee native, Mrs. Murphy taught kindergarten at Lakeview Elementary School in Nashville where she successfully established classroom management for students with behavioral needs.

She served six years as an elementary teacher at Woodbine Christian Academy, and was named Teacher of the Year in 2005. While at Woodbine, she spearheaded a $12,000 campaign to purchase recreational equipment, led teacher in-service sessions on classroom management, assisted with drama productions, and served as yearbook advisor.



NASHVILLE, TN Free Will Baptist Bible College President J. Matthew Pinson published a four-page entry about Georgia Free Will Baptists in the New Georgia Encyclopedia this spring (March 2006).

The article includes a brief analysis of early Free Will Baptist history in America, the two major Free Will Baptist beginnings in North Carolina and New England, the 1911 merger with the Northern Baptist Convention, and the 1935 organization of the National Association of Free Will Baptists.

Other sections spotlight Georgia Free Will Baptist beginnings in the 1800s, organization of the current Georgia State Association in 1937, and Georgia Free Will Baptists such as L.C. Johnson, K.V. Shutes, and Ralph Lightsey. Early Georgia interest in missions and education provides insight into the compelling history of the movement.

This publishing effort marks Matt Pinson’s second entry in the encyclopedia. His 2005 entry focused on the life of Laura Belle Barnard, a Georgia native who became the first Free Will Baptist missionary to India.

The New Georgia Encyclopedia is an online work that can be accessed at



NASHVILLE, TN Students took an active role in Christian service during the 2005-2006 academic year, according to John Murray, director. “Every student chooses an area of Christian service each year,” Murray said.

Mr. Murray reported that in addition to studying for their regular classes, FWBBC students also preached 696 sermons, taught 1,080 classes, dealt with 432 individuals, won 87 people to Christ, distributed 2,298 tracts, prepared 2,035 musical numbers, and witnessed 136 other spiritual decisions.

During the 2006 Spring semester, 301 students participated in Christian service projects, that included preaching, bus ministry, Nashville Union Mission, nursing homes, ministry teams, Bible clubs, Sunday School, children’s church, community groups, and more.

Fifty-one percent of the students have local church Christian service assignments, 33% have school group assignments, and 16% have individual or group assignments. Thirty-nine students logged perfect attendance this year.

“We take Christian service seriously at FWBBC,” Murray said. “Our students know this and do their best.”


135 FWBBC Students Make President’s,
Dean’s Lists

NASHVILLE, TN The 2006 spring semester ended at Free Will Baptist Bible College with 135 students earning academic recognition, according to Academic Dean Milton Fields. Thirty-five of those students made all A’s and were placed on the President’s List.

One Hundred students earned a B average or higher and were placed on the Dean’s List. The Dean’s List includes 20 seniors, 33 juniors, 32 sophomores, and 15 freshmen.

Download the complete listing of academic achievements.






©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists