Campbellsville, KBC seek new partnership

Baptist Press
Posted: Aug 14, 2014 4:52 PM
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- Representatives from Campbellsville University met with Kentucky Baptist Convention leaders Aug. 13 to report the university's board of trustees has voted to remove the school from its covenant agreement with the KBC.

Both groups, however, are involved in ongoing discussions for forming a new partnership arrangement.

Campbellsville's trustees voted July 15 to revise the school's bylaws to allow the possibility of seating its own board members. The action was seen by KBC leaders as a violation of a 28-year-old covenant agreement with the university that continued allowing the convention to approve individuals selected by the university to serve as trustees -- a role it has shared in since about the 1930s.

In a July 16 letter addressed to Kentucky Baptists, Campbellsville University President Michael Carter and trustee chairman Joseph Owens wrote the CU board had taken the steps toward forming a self-perpetuating board "to protect the mission of the university and to avoid both undue influence and the imposition of theological and doctrinal control."

After a recent weekend meeting where an accord was struck between Campbellsville and KBC representatives, according to a joint statement issued Aug. 13, the school and state convention will enter into discussions regarding a partnership arrangement that will allow the university and Kentucky Baptists to continue working together on shared ministry and missions ventures.

Campbellsville will opt out of the four-year process of dissolution as outlined in the current partnership agreement and will voluntarily surrender its Cooperative Program allocation. The school was projected to receive $977,000 in CP funds from the state convention in the 2014-15 fiscal year. The KBC's business and finance committee, however, voted July 17 to hold the school's remaining CP funds in escrow.

Campbellsville trustees held a regular quarterly meeting Aug. 12, and voted to end the covenant agreement with the KBC.

"We have enjoyed our association with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and remain grateful for the KBC's support to our school and its students," Owens said. "The time has come for us to re-affirm Campbellsville University's historic nature as a Christ-centered institution of higher learning with a strong Baptist affiliation and identity."

While KBC leaders expressed regret over the university's desire to step away from its covenant agreement, they also said in a statement that they respect the right of the university and recognize the fundraising and governance challenges that have led to the decision.

"Campbellsville has a tremendous heritage and a unique role in Christian education in south-central Kentucky and beyond," KBC executive director Paul Chitwood said. "CU President Dr. Michael Carter pledges to maintain the university's commitment to a Christian worldview and to preparing students to serve Christ's kingdom.

"I rejoice in that commitment and pray much success for the university," Chitwood added.

While the CU board's actions will allow the university to select its own trustees, Owens said the decision in no way changes the mission or the character of Campbellsville University.

"We look forward to discussing the new proposed agreement that will continue CU working with the KBC and its churches in areas of joint mission and ministry in the spirit of the Great Commandment and in following the command of the Great Commission," Owens said.

The Aug. 13 meeting of KBC and CU representatives followed a "much-welcomed" phone call that led to a meeting of the two groups Aug. 9, which was described by Chitwood as "conciliatory and redemptive."

"CU leaders offered their apologies for any disparaging or divisive remarks about the KBC over the past few weeks and requested we re-commit ourselves to walking together in a way that is worthy of our Lord."

KBC and CU representatives plan to meet again Sept. 18 to further discuss the terms of a new partnership agreement.

Todd Deaton is editor of the Western Recorder (, newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook ( and in your email (

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