On May 4th, I will have the privilege of being the commencement speaker during graduation activities at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College. Clear Creek is one of our Kentucky Baptist Convention institutions, receiving more than $550,000 of Cooperative Program funds each year. Is Clear Creek a good investment of the missions dollars of Kentucky Baptists?
According to its mission statement, “Clear Creek Baptist Bible College exists to provide theological preparation for adults called of God to Christian service.” Yet, from its beginning, Clear Creek has embraced a unique ministry role and setting. Dr. Lloyd Caswell Kelly, pastor of the Pineville First Baptist Church, founded Clear Creek in 1926, in order “to establish a base for a mountain mission program.” Starting with 12 students, Clear Creek determined to meet the challenge of providing quality education for preachers in the mountains. Today, under the committed leadership of President Donnie Fox, annual enrollment at Clear Creek is close to 200 students.
Alan Dodson, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Lexington and current KBC first vice president, is a graduate and member of the trustee board at Clear Creek. Regarding his experience as a student, Dodson recently remarked to me, “I learned the Bible at Clear Creek. I also had instilled within me a passion for evangelism and preaching. My time at Clear Creek still shapes my ministry today.”
Another of Clear Creek’s distinguished graduates, Rev. Chad Fugitt, who serves as pastor of Central Baptist Church in Corbin, spoke to me about the role of Clear Creek in his ministry preparation. Fugitt stated, “Clear Creek was very instrumental in framing my ministry and growing my heart for the church. I learned how to shepherd people and love the body of Christ. It was, in many ways, ministry boot camp to prepare me for what God had planned for my future.” When asked about the role of Clear Creek in KBC life, he replied, “Clear Creek is serving Kentucky Baptists well, influencing in ways that maybe aren’t as visible, but are very important. Most graduates immediately begin serving in underserved areas of rural Kentucky, taking with them a heart for the gospel and for the lost. You may not read a lot about their work but they have a Great Commission assignment and are being faithful to it.”
A product of the mountains myself, I have witnessed the struggle of many of our rural and smaller churches to find qualified pastors and staff members. I recall Clear Creek students who served as staff members in my home church being passionate about evangelism and their own personal walk with Jesus.
All of that is to say, yes, I believe Clear Creek is a good investment of Kentucky Baptists’ mission dollars.