Follow Christ, Lead the Way

Melvin Maxwell was known as a powerful man of God and prayer warrior by those who knew him. On Saturday, July 4, 2020, Dr. Maxwell graduated from this life to his eternal home and was united with his Savior whom he loved. He was born in Georgetown, Ohio, on November 15, 1921, and grew up during the Great Depression. Though his mother died at an early age, his father was a godly man and raised him and his brother Millard to follow Christ no matter how hard the situation.

On August 25, 1942, Maxwell married his wife, Laura. They had three children together: Lawrence (Larry), John, and Patricia. Despite an often-busy schedule, Maxwell always made a point to have a family mealtime with his wife and children. Taking a cue from his father, Maxwell was dedicated to teaching his children about Christ, faithfully leading his family's daily devotion time. He also invested heavily in his children's education and ensured they gained experiences outside of the church.

In 1964 Melvin Maxwell was elected the sixth president of Circleville Bible College (now Ohio Christian University) and served until 1980. Prior to serving as president, he was a pastor, church planter and district superintendent with the Churches of Christ in Christian Union. During his sixteen-year tenure, Maxwell initiated and oversaw the college's rapid growth, beginning with the construction of a new administration and academic building in 1966 on a new 40-acre campus on Route 22, east of Circleville, which is Ohio Christian's current home.

During the next three years, he supervised the construction of York Hall, the Campus Church (named Detty Chapel), Johnson Hall, Moore Hall, and the Campus Center. In 1970, the American Association of Bible Colleges granted the College applicant status and in 1976 full accreditation. In 1967, student enrollment grew to 150, and by 1978 it had reached 200. By 1980, enrollment had grown to 250. This dramatic increase in enrollment allowed Maxwell to eliminate the college's debt.

Maxwell's success in leadership and effectiveness in growing the university was rooted in his strong faith in God and a keen eye for others' giftedness. Retired Ohio Christian University Religion Professor Joe Brown recalled that "Dr. Maxwell loved students and saw potential in a wide range of them. He understood how God uses gifts and talents of each individual for His purposes and glory. He applauded the potential of academically gifted students, as well as affirmed those who were not always at the top of their class. He recognized the Creator wraps up potential in all of His children and was careful not to overlook every student's possibilities."

Maxwell and his family had great affection for the community of Circleville and fell in love with the college. He cared deeply for his students and was remembered by many he served as a compassionate leader and a man of prayer. 

Janette Post '77 said, "The greatest thing I will always remember about Reverend Maxwell was his heart for prayer – and the power in which he would pray. Every morning during school, you could walk by his office and hear him calling out to the Lord, interceding on behalf of students."

Others remembered Maxwell for his commitment to quality education and mentorship. Before his passing, Stan Toler '73 reflected, "Dr. Maxwell knew the importance of a practical education – one that included more than memorizing facts. The education he espoused combined earthly knowledge, biblical knowledge, and heavenly anointing to make a difference for Christ in the trenches of life. He is the most exuberant and enthusiastic person I have ever met. I always had a better day when I heard his booming voice calling me with a positive word for my life."

Maxwell's presidency was filled with challenges and triumphs. However, three accomplishments stand out as part of his legacy:

First, through his vision of what a Bible college should be, he led the school in self-studies that resulted in its full accreditation with the American Association of Bible Colleges.

Second, keenly interested in connecting the college to the Circleville community, he promoted the need for a library building and sought community support to build it. Inspired by his enthusiasm, the community gave thousands towards this capital project. Today, the Melvin and Laura Maxwell Library sits at the center of the university's beautiful campus.

Third, Maxwell recognized the importance of faculty with advanced higher education. Today's faculty all hold master's or doctorate degrees and are the foundation of the university's academic excellence.

In 1980, Maxwell stepped down from the presidency and joined the advancement department for World Gospel Mission in Marion, Indiana, serving there for a number of years. After suffering a heart attack in 1985, he retired to central Florida. However, always being one to see opportunities for ministry wherever he went, soon established a successful ministry and chaplaincy for residents of mobile home parks near Winter Haven, Florida. Even after the passing of his wife Laura in 2009, he remained a dedicated evangelist, continuing his ministry into his 90's. 

While we mourn the passing of such a great man of God, we celebrate the fruits of his decades of labor as a faithful minister and leader in Christ. It is with great joy that we consider that he is now with Christ receiving the accolade, "well done, my good and faithful servant."

Dr. Jon Kulaga, Ohio Christian University President, said this of Dr. Maxwell, “When I arrived in the summer of 2017, as the new president of Ohio Christian University, one of the first visits I was told I “had to make” was to see Dr. Maxwell.  He was spoken of with such reverence and deep appreciation that I couldn’t wait to meet him.  When I visited him in Winter Haven, FL a few weeks later, the first thing he told me was that he was praying for me and OCU.   I came away from that time of conversation and prayer with a great appreciation for the depth of his love for God, and for the university. And why he is referred to as a “Leader of Leaders” on our campus.”

In closing, we would like to share one final story of Maxwell's faithfulness. Mike Holbrook '78, General Superintendent of the Churches of Christ in Christian Union, recalled this encounter with Maxwell: "I heard him praying in his office. When he opened the door, I entered and told him I wanted to let him know how much I loved and appreciated him. As we were talking, I asked when he had come to his office that day. He said he had come in a couple of hours earlier to pray. As we shared, I realized that he had been to every building on campus and had prayed at each for every past, present, and future student. He had tears in his eyes as he shared how he prayed for the CBC family. After our conversation, he stepped out. I took the liberty of going into his office to look where he had been kneeling. I was moved to tears as I saw two worn-out holes in the carpet where he knelt. I realized the impact he had on my life, and I knew what truly made him a great man – a powerful man of God."

 

Melvin Maxwell
President of Circleville Bible College
1964-1980

 

*Information and quotations are taken from "Melvin M. Maxwell: A Tribute" (2012).

Articles of Interest

Ohio Christian to Recognize Alumni at Trailblazer Celebration image

Ohio Christian to Recognize Alumni at Trailblazer Celebration

Ohio Christian to Recognize Alumni at Trailblazer Celebration image

Published: October 16, 2019

As part of Ohio Christian University Homecoming
As part of Ohio Christian University Homecoming
As part of Ohio Christian University Homecoming
Student Volunteers

Ohio Christian Partners to Serve Community

Student Volunteers

Published: October 16, 2019

Ohio Christian University will hold its 21st annual Ralph C. Starkey Community Action Day on Oct 9. The event historically sends out over 400 students, faculty and staff into the community of Circleville and the surrounding area to serve those in need. This year, Ohio Christian has partnered with United Way of Pickaway County to expand the reach and scope by coordinating and bringing together the organizations individual efforts to serve the community. Ohio Christian has traditionally held Community Action Day in the spring but switched to fall this year so the day would coincide with
Ohio Christian University will hold its 21st annual Ralph C. Starkey Community Action Day on Oct 9. The event historically sends out over 400 students, faculty and staff into the community of Circleville and the surrounding area to serve those in need. This year, Ohio Christian has partnered with United Way of Pickaway County to expand the reach and scope by coordinating and bringing
Ohio Christian University will hold its 21st annual Ralph C. Starkey Community Action Day on Oct 9. The event historically sends out over 400 students, faculty and staff into the community of
Professor Laklieshia Izzard

Dr. Izzard Serves Georgia

Professor Laklieshia Izzard

Published: October 16, 2019

Ohio Christian University strives to have faculty members who not only serve their students with excellence, but also serve their community in big ways. Dr. Laklieshia Izzard, an affiliate professor for the Social Science Department at the Ohio Christian University Atlanta site, exemplifies this goal for Christian service to the community. Her newest role as President of the American Counseling Association of Georgia (ACA of Georgia), will allow her to serve counselors across the entire state. Izzard is a licensed counselor and clinical supervisor with a doctorate in counselor
Ohio Christian University strives to have faculty members who not only serve their students with excellence, but also serve their community in big ways. Dr. Laklieshia Izzard, an affiliate professor for the Social Science Department at the Ohio Christian University Atlanta site, exemplifies this goal for Christian service to the community. Her newest role as President of the American
Ohio Christian University strives to have faculty members who not only serve their students with excellence, but also serve their community in big ways. Dr. Laklieshia Izzard, an affiliate
Image of multiple patch cables plugged into a server

OCU Boasts Mighty Network with OARnet

Image of multiple patch cables plugged into a server

Published: August 5, 2019

Ohio Christian University now boasts a mighty network thanks to recent upgrades and optimization by John Bocook; Assistant Vice President of Information Technology and Jared Bader, Director of Network Operations. With over 3,600 students – 80% of which are remote – a stable network connection is crucial for students and professors. "There have been issues in the past where we have had to shut down our internet connection, which, in turn, shuts down our user authentication," Bocook said. "Our remote students couldn't login in to the learning management system. Because of this new
Ohio Christian University now boasts a mighty network thanks to recent upgrades and optimization by John Bocook; Assistant Vice President of Information Technology and Jared Bader, Director of Network Operations. With over 3,600 students – 80% of which are remote – a stable network connection is crucial for students and professors. "There have been issues in the past where we have had to
Ohio Christian University now boasts a mighty network thanks to recent upgrades and optimization by John Bocook; Assistant Vice President of Information Technology and Jared Bader, Director of
Student is coached as they study

OCU Improves Retention Through Persistence and Completion Academy

Student is coached as they study

Published: July 18, 2019

Ohio Christian University has participated in the Higher Learning Commission’s Persistence and Completion Academy for the past two years. This group of around 20 institutions collaborate on ideas to improve retention and graduation rates. Through this collaboration, Ohio Christian has worked on several initiatives for both the Adult
Ohio Christian University has participated in the Higher Learning Commission’s Persistence and Completion Academy for the past two years. This group of around 20 institutions collaborate on ideas to improve retention and graduation rates. Through this collaboration, Ohio Christian has worked on several initiatives for both the Adult
Ohio Christian University has participated in the Higher Learning Commission’s Persistence and Completion Academy for the past two years. This group of around 20 institutions collaborate on ideas

Archived Articles of Interest

Tyler Forney Leading SOS Project

Student Profile: Tyler Forney Is Learning Service over Self

Tyler Forney Leading SOS Project

Published: August 27, 2019

Building safer houses, constructing new roofs, and laboring in Tennessee’s hot summer sun isn’t routine for OCU Junior Tyler Forney. What is routine is witnessing about Jesus, having a heart for Youth Ministry, and placing others' needs above his for the glory of God. Choosing to spend his summer with Service Over Self (SOS) in Memphis, Tyler, along with 40 other young adults, spread the Good News to middle and high school students and learned to be an SOS team leader. An avid OCU community member, Tyler appears happy-go-lucky, working for SAC, serving as a hall chaplain, and walking
Building safer houses, constructing new roofs, and laboring in Tennessee’s hot summer sun isn’t routine for OCU Junior Tyler Forney. What is routine is witnessing about Jesus, having a heart for Youth Ministry, and placing others' needs above his for the glory of God. Choosing to spend his summer with Service Over Self (SOS) in Memphis, Tyler, along with 40 other young adults, spread the
Building safer houses, constructing new roofs, and laboring in Tennessee’s hot summer sun isn’t routine for OCU Junior Tyler Forney. What is routine is witnessing about Jesus, having a heart for
Kyle Benecke

Student Profile: Kyle Benecke Leaves Comfort Zone

Kyle Benecke

Published: August 27, 2019

Junior Kyle Benecke has a slew of rising talents. While being on Sports Link and starring in Track and Cross Country, Kyle maintains superior academic standing. One may think this cool kid with the Mohawk can't possibly do anything else. But, when asked about some of his favorite activities, Kyle brings up his band, Leaving Cardboard Houses, as if it were nothing. Serving as lead singer, songwriter, and ukulele player, Kyle and drummer Chris Volzke make up the band. Although they are just two, they sure know how to fill a stage with musical presence. Writing, producing, managing, and
Junior Kyle Benecke has a slew of rising talents. While being on Sports Link and starring in Track and Cross Country, Kyle maintains superior academic standing. One may think this cool kid with the Mohawk can't possibly do anything else. But, when asked about some of his favorite activities, Kyle brings up his band, Leaving Cardboard Houses, as if it were nothing. Serving as lead singer,
Junior Kyle Benecke has a slew of rising talents. While being on Sports Link and starring in Track and Cross Country, Kyle maintains superior academic standing. One may think this cool kid with the
Nick Enix with Prof. Jim Smith at Graduation

OCU Graduate Profile: Nick Enix is Shooting for the Stars

Nick Enix with Prof. Jim Smith at Graduation

Published: August 27, 2019

Class of 2016 graduate Nick Enix is accustomed to reaching high in advancing his professional goals.  As a Chemical Dependency major, Nick was blessed to gain employment with the Pickaway Area Recovery Services (PARS) in Circleville during his junior year.  Today he continues there as a licensed Substance Abuse Counselor. Due to his excellent OCU preparation, Nick was selected over competitors for his position.  Completing his bachelor degree in Chemical Dependency Counseling in just three-and-one-half years enabled him to pass the State of Ohio’s licensing test quickly and dive
Class of 2016 graduate Nick Enix is accustomed to reaching high in advancing his professional goals.  As a Chemical Dependency major, Nick was blessed to gain employment with the Pickaway Area Recovery Services (PARS) in Circleville during his junior year.  Today he continues there as a licensed Substance Abuse Counselor. Due to his excellent OCU preparation, Nick was selected over
Class of 2016 graduate Nick Enix is accustomed to reaching high in advancing his professional goals.  As a Chemical Dependency major, Nick was blessed to gain employment with the Pickaway Area
Rev. David Dean, Graduate

Graduate Profile: Rev. David Dean

Rev. David Dean, Graduate

Published: August 27, 2019

Upon graduation in Theology from Ohio Christian University, David Dean entered Olivet Nazarene University’s Church Management program and earned his Master's degree. Since then David has been an evangelist in many churches, camps, and colleges, as well as a servant in mission fields for 25 years. Since 2015, Rev. Dean is serving as OCU’s Director of Church Relations and Executive Director of the Toler Leadership Institutes. He is also the appointed Chairman of the Commission on Evangelism and Discipleship for Churches of Christ in Christian Union. Previously, David was Senior Pastor
Upon graduation in Theology from Ohio Christian University, David Dean entered Olivet Nazarene University’s Church Management program and earned his Master's degree. Since then David has been an evangelist in many churches, camps, and colleges, as well as a servant in mission fields for 25 years. Since 2015, Rev. Dean is serving as OCU’s Director of Church Relations and Executive Director
Upon graduation in Theology from Ohio Christian University, David Dean entered Olivet Nazarene University’s Church Management program and earned his Master's degree. Since then David has been an
OCU Student to Intern at The Circleville Herald image

OCU Student to Intern at The Circleville Herald

OCU Student to Intern at The Circleville Herald image

Published: August 27, 2019

Madeline McCain, an Ohio Christian University AYA (Adolescent and Young Adult) education major with a concentration in English, recently accepted a position as an intern at The Circleville Herald. She will begin her duties by learning their computer system and typing police and court reports for the paper. In time, Maddy could move on to writing press reports, and she may eventually be given her own by-line. Madeline says, “Writing and reading have always been passions of mine. Ever since I was a young child, I could be found with my nose in a book. When I was given the opportunity
Madeline McCain, an Ohio Christian University AYA (Adolescent and Young Adult) education major with a concentration in English, recently accepted a position as an intern at The Circleville Herald. She will begin her duties by learning their computer system and typing police and court reports for the paper. In time, Maddy could move on to writing press reports, and she may eventually be
Madeline McCain, an Ohio Christian University AYA (Adolescent and Young Adult) education major with a concentration in English, recently accepted a position as an intern at The Circleville Herald