Board of Church Visitors Celebrates 20 Years of Clergy and Lay Leadership

Championing MC and the Church: Board of Church Visitors Celebrates 20 Years of Clergy and Lay Leadership

Aug. 17, 2020

On March 9 and 10, 2020, current and former members of Maryville College’s Board of Church Visitors (BCV) gathered for the annual meeting to celebrate BCV’s 20th anniversary, receive updates about Maryville College, plan for the future, and thank outgoing President Dr. Tom Bogart for his leadership and dedication to the MC’s culture of faith and learning.  (And little did they know, the BCV meeting would be the last traditional, major on-campus event of 2019-20!)

The Board of Church Visitors was established by Dr. Gerald Gibson, MC’s 10th president, as part of the MC 2000 plan to re-envision and strengthen the ties between the College, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the broader church with the mission:

  • To explore issues relevant to Maryville College, the Presbyterian Church and the wider church
  • To strengthen the relationship between the College and the Church
  • To expand the circle of interest in and reputation of Maryville College
  • To serve as ambassadors for MC by articulating the College’s mission to their congregations and encouraging students to apply for admission
  • To identify sources of support for the Mission of the College 

Since 2000, more than 150 clergy and lay leaders from 16 states (TN, GA, VA, NY, NC, FL, PA, AL, DE, LA, KY, SC, OH, MN, MD, NJ) and 10 faith traditions – PC(USA), Cumberland Presbyterian, ELCA, Cooperative Baptist, Southern Baptist, United Methodist, AME, Catholic, Episcopalian and Unitarian Universalist – have provided leadership locally, regionally and nationally to connect Maryville College to the external church and to support and advise the College on faith-related programming and initiatives.

Highlights of this year’s celebration featured an opening lunch with several special guests, including President Emeritus Gerald Gibson and wife Rachel, past BCV chairs, speaker Rev. Dr. Emily Anderson, and Gary Luhr (former director of Association of Presbyterian College and Universities, or APCU). A closing farewell tribute was held for Bogart, who in his 10 years at MC championed the College’s church-relatedness, served as APCU chair and board member, and welcomed the counsel and relationships with BCV members.

In celebration of BCV’s 20th anniversary and recognition of its role in MC’s dedication to developing exceptional leadership for the church and community, BCV members challenged themselves to increase financial support for church-related programs. Setting an ambitious goal of $10,500, the group raised $11,541 in four weeks to support Church and College Scholarships, the Chaplain’s Fund at the Center for Campus Ministry, and the church leadership initiative, Maryville Adventures in Studying Theology (MAST).

While Maryville College has benefitted greatly from the support, guidance and relationships fostered through the Board of Church Visitors, both current and former members say their BCV service has been valuable to them, too.

Rev. Laura R. Rasor, lead pastor at State Street United Methodist Church in Bristol, Va., is serving as the 2020 BCV chair.

“When I was appointed to serve as pastor at Broadway United Methodist Church in Maryville, one of the things that excited me was the proximity of the church to Maryville College,” Rasor said. “I grew up on the campus of Emory & Henry College (my father was a history professor there) and, in many ways, cannot separate my own call to and gifts for ministry from all that the environment of a faith-connected liberal arts education instilled in me. I was honored when I was invited to be part of the Maryville College Board of Church Visitors. The partnerships fostered strengthened my own ministry and the ministry of my church. It also connected me with many amazing young people who choose to have their lives shaped by all Maryville College offers.”

Rev. John Campbell ’70, Maryville College alumnus and retired PC(USA) pastor in Pittsburgh, Pa., referenced 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 when asked to talk about his reasons for supporting Maryville College.

“Maryville College gave me the education and tools to make a difference,” Campbell said. “Maryville gave me the confidence and courage to make a change not only in my life, but in the world.  I give to Maryville … so that others can receive a quality education and skills to make a difference in this world.  I give to Maryville so that others’ confidence will be strengthened and their courage emboldened to make a change in their world. I want my life and others’ lives to make a difference … to do some good here. I want my gifts to do some good here; and I want our lives to make a change in others’ lives.”

Rev. Len Turner Scales ’07, Presbyterian chaplain at Princeton University and executive co-director of Westminster Foundation, said that Center for Campus Ministry programs during her time as a student at Maryville College helped shape her as a person – and influence her work as a pastor.

“It is an honor to serve on the Board of Church Visitors, and a joy to enthusiastically support the Center for Campus Ministry (CCM) at the College!” Scales said. “During my time at Maryville College, I had the opportunity to participate in Seminary Road Trips and Alternative Spring Breaks. These CCM offerings shaped me as a person and influence my work as a pastor. It's exciting to see how the College continues to invest in students, the community, and the Church so that we can all ‘do good on the largest possible scale.’”

The Maryville College Board of Church Visitors welcomes nominations for future members. To submit a nomination, please contact Kathleen Farnham, director of church relations, at

Written by Kathleen Farnham, Director of Church Relations at Maryville College 

Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”