Last week, hundreds of elementary, middle, and high school students began a new school year at the Oneida Baptist Institute. I had the honor of preaching at the staff worship service as this team of dedicated servants prepared for the year to begin. As I participated in the service, I was reminded of three things that make Oneida Baptist Institute great.
Oneida’s Mission Makes It Great
In 1900, James Anderson Burns opened a school in Oneida to bring Christian education to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. The school’s mission statement later became “Education for Time and Eternity,” communicating the idea that they exist not just to educate students but to point them toward the giver of everlasting life. For over a century, OBI has taught countless numbers of boys and girls what it means to be a follower of Christ. While many students come from the local community, others are boarding students who come from across the state, nation, and world to attend Oneida Baptist Institute. These students receive a quality education, attend daily chapel services, and learn responsibility by working a job on campus. Students’ lives are being transformed because of the ministry of Oneida Baptist Institute.
Oneida’s Staff Makes It Great
The faculty and staff of Oneida Baptist Institute are truly missionaries in the mountains. A man named Ricky shared a testimony that several years ago he spent his vacation volunteering at OBI. Before the conclusion of the two weeks, the Lord called him to serve full-time at OBI. Like Ricky, every staff member has been called to this mission field. They range from long-term faithful servants like Denise Spender, who received recognition for 30 years of service to couples like Jacob and Anna who were experiencing their first day on the job. The entire staff is encouraged by the strong and humble leadership of President Larry Gritton. He is a special leader who frequently applauds the sacrifice and faithfulness of the people who make OBI a special place.
Oneida’s Donors Make It Great
During their opening worship service, a designated prayer time was held for friends and donors of the school. Since Martha Hogg’s gift in 1899 of 10 acres of land to build the school upon, God has used donors to play an important role in the life of OBI. Some gifts are small. One precious lady gave multiple times over a series of years and her gifts totaled less than a dollar. Other gifts are very large, like the former student who donated millions of dollars to construct a new dormitory. Still, every donor is equally celebrated. The faithfulness of its donors has allowed OBI to remain a bright light in the darkest of times.
Oneida Baptist Institute’s largest donor is the Kentucky Baptist Convention, giving over $7.5 million in Cooperative Program dollars to OBI in the past 20 years. Generous donors like the KBC have enabled local students to pay less tuition today ($0) than they did in 1900 ($1 a month). When your Kentucky Baptist church gives to the Cooperative Program you are helping provide Christian education to mountain children and boarding students at Oneida Baptist Institute.
With a great mission, dedicated staff, and generous volunteers, the Oneida Baptist Institute is a shining star of our cooperative work as Kentucky Baptists. Thousands of students whose lives have been transformed at the Oneida Baptist Institute would testify that we are #BetterTogether.