news-category: Christian Service

Gardner-Webb is Only N.C. School Recognized as a Christian College of Distinction

students participate in the worship at Gardner-Webb

National College Guide Honors The University for its Dynamic Community Dedicated to Spiritual Growth

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Colleges of Distinction, a unique guide for college-bound students, has recognized Gardner-Webb for its commitment to encourage and challenge undergraduate students in their Christian growth. The University is the only North Carolina school to receive designation as a 2022-2023 Christian College of Distinction.

Additionally, Gardner-Webb received several honors, including recognition as a College of Distinction, one of 18 North Carolina Colleges named to the list. Aside from overall undergraduate recognitions, Gardner-Webb was one of 10 North Carolina schools to earn achievements in the areas of nursing and career development, and one of 18 North Carolina schools to gain awards in business and education.

Gardner-Webb’s Office of Christian Life and Service provides numerous opportunities for the spiritual development of each student. Through ministry organizations, students are encouraged and challenged in personal discipleship, corporate worship, and life-changing ministry and mission experiences in the United States and internationally. This year trips are planned to minister to families and individuals in Florida, Kenya, Kentucky, and a medical mission trip to Greece.

Interim Vice President of Christian Life and Service Neal Payne said his staff supports students in their Christian walk. “As it says in Ephesians 4, the Office of Christian Life and Service at Gardner-Webb seeks for ‘the body of Christ to be built up’ so that ‘we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ,’” Payne asserted. “It is an honor to garner this distinction, and we hope it only further encourages the University to be united in its mission of Christian higher education.”

Neal Payne
Neal Payne, Interim Vice President
of Christian Life and Service

Payne and the staff offer pastoral care to students and serve as advisers to student ministry organizations on campus. They coordinate weekly Dimensions programs, which feature guest speakers and topics that nurture students spiritually, intellectually, and culturally, and promote a sense of community. The staff also plans worship services for the University community. They provide vocational counseling and referral service to students interested in church-related vocations, and assist students in finding a place of worship in the community.

Wes Creel, founder of Colleges of Distinction, noted that faith-based colleges like Gardner-Webb are places where students can prepare both their heart and mind for success.

“Every student has individual needs and their own environment in which they’re most likely to thrive,” Creel observed. “We want to extend our praise to Gardner-Webb for prioritizing and catering to students’ goals.”

Learn more about Gardner-Webb’s recognitions here.

About Colleges of Distinction

For more than 20 years, Colleges of Distinction has been committed to honoring schools throughout the U.S. for true excellence in higher education. The member schools within the Colleges of Distinction consortium distinguish themselves through their dedicated focus on the undergraduate experience. For more information, visit

About Gardner-Webb

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to six professional schools, 14 academic departments, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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