Overseas Council started as the vision of a group of Indianapolis businessmen. While attending a building dedication at Seoul Theological Seminary (STS) in South Korea in 1974, these men noticed the inability of many students to pay for training. The group returned home, determined to raise scholarship funds at STS, and Overseas Council for Seoul Theological Seminary was founded.
Businessman Dick Capin became the first president of Overseas Council and Chairman of the Board of Directors, while Dr. Charles Spicer, a missionary with OMS International (formerly Oriental Mission Society, now One Mission Society), and his wife, Phyllis, worked on the development and relational efforts for STS. In 1979, Spicer became the second President. It soon became apparent during his travels that more institutions needed funding. Eventually, more OMS institutions were added to the funding list, and the organization’s name changed to Overseas Council for Theological Education and Missions. In 1985, Jack Graves, Spicer’s son-in-law joined the staff. Over the next decade, the ministry expanded its funding outside their network of OMS institutions to many all over the world.
Dr. Manfred W. Kohl became the Vice President of International Development in 1995, and in the same year, Dr. John Bennett became the third President. Spicer continued to serve as Vice Chairman of the Board. During this period, Infrastructure Projects were launched, including a variety of coordinated projects in the former Soviet Union, China, and the Middle East. In addition, the Theological Research Center developed, under which many current Overseas Council initiatives were born, such as leadership consultations, Regional Directors and the Institute for Excellence in Christian Leadership Development.
After the devastating loss of Dr. Bennett to a heart attack in 1999, Bennett’s assistant, Dr. David Lewis, became Overseas Council’s fourth President. The organization also changed its name to Overseas Council International. Dr. Lewis served until 2004 when he left to pursue mission work in Africa. Dr. David Baer, former President at Overseas Council’s partner institution ESEPA in Costa Rica, served as Overseas Council President and CEO with faithfulness and distinction for more than 12 years, leading the organization through crucial improvements in all major areas of operation to ensure continued strengthening and better service to our partner schools and donor partners. And today, after 25 years of serving in Africa and nearly 10 years of serving with OC, Dr. Scott Cunningham has stepped into the role of Interim President and CEO.
The organization is now simply referred to as Overseas Council. What once started out as the vision of five men to provide Korean student scholarships has turned into the largest ministry of its kind in the world, providing various kinds of assistance to 130 partner institutions in 70 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa.