- Associated Press - Saturday, June 3, 2017

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Some local churches in Alabama are coming together to raise money for a historically black college within the state.

Several churches are seeking donations on Sunday for Stillman College, which has been struggling financially for several years, the Tuscaloosa News (https://bit.ly/2rYxt3S ) reported.

The gathering is declared “Stillman College Sunday,” as Rev. Schmitt Moore says the groups are hoping to raise more than $100,000 for the HBCU. Moore is a pastor of Bethel Baptist Church and a member of the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education.

“It’s a great program that has produced a lot of powerful graduates across the country and it’s worth saving,” he said.

Moore said he believes it’s the churches’ responsibility to help out Stillman because of the school’s religious background. The college was founded as Stillman Institute in 1876, with the initial concept to be designated for “the training of colored men for the ministry,” according to the original charter.

Stillman is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA. The school requires 12 hours of biblical studies for all incoming freshmen.

The groups spearheading Sunday’s event include dozens of churches from Tuscaloosa and central Alabama.

Stillman is paying off a $40 million federal loan that it received in 2012.

There were about 620 students enrolled at Stillman during the spring, including more than 100 students that graduated.

“We are trying to get about 800 or 900 students for the fall,” said Mason Bonner, director of community relations and dean of enrollment services at Stillman.

Interim President Cynthia Warrick called on alumni to donate money to the college in March, specifically to make a $275,000 payment to cover a loan debt payment for April. Last year, the city of Tuscaloosa guaranteed the college a $1.05 million bank loan.

Bonner said Stillman recently passed off the bank loan from the city. But the college is still going through financial issues.

Bonner said he will be vetting all the churches to ensure donations head toward the right location.

“We’re trying to get our way out of this without having to borrow more money,” he said.

Churches are asking congregations to make any check donations to Stillman College at the Office of Institutional Advancement at 3601 Stillman Blvd., Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 35401.

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Information from: The Tuscaloosa News, https://www.tuscaloosanews.com

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