Kentucky Baptists have been blessed by longstanding partnerships with a host of agencies and institutions providing various ministries all across our state. These entities have been supported through individual donations, the Cooperative Program and special offerings totaling literally hundreds of millions of dollars from Kentucky Baptists. Over the course of time, the relationships have proven mutually beneficial for the entities and for the kingdom agenda of our churches.
As is true of a healthy marriage, longstanding relationships between Kentucky Baptist Convention churches and their entities have always required a commitment of mutual love, respect and submission on both parties. When relational challenges or disagreements have occurred, these challenges have been addressed through careful inquiry, honest dialogue, respectful debate and much time spent in prayer. Over the years some of the relationships have experienced dramatic changes, but, even then, open and charitable communication marked the transition before a watching world.
Recently, however, Kentucky Baptists’ legacy of open communication and respect has been severely compromised. We started well enough. In April 2013, when questions arose over Campbellsville’s commitment to a biblical worldview and Baptist beliefs, we did what we have typically done: We assembled a group of reasonable, trustworthy leaders and talked through the issues. The result was a commitment to our relationship.
When, only a month later, the school raised several objections to its longstanding covenant agreement with Kentucky Baptists, more meetings were held—each at the university’s invitation—to address those objections. Each time the result was a commitment to our relationship.
On July 11, 2014, however, the university’s invitation was not to dialogue but to listen as their attorneys reviewed changes to the university’s governing documents that, in the opinion of KBC attorney James Taylor, are “clearly inconsistent with the covenant agreement.” The changes allow CU to transition to a self-perpetuating trustee board, which, as their attorneys stated several times, is the plan of the university beginning this year.
No one from the university administration, faculty or trustee board was present. They simply sent their attorneys. Since then, we have sent five requests to meet. As I submit this article Aug. 8th, we have received not a single reply. We are left to look for updates in the school’s latest press releases and mass mailings.
As we await additional updates, I want to assure Kentucky Baptists that their elected, appointed and employed leaders are doing everything that can be done to salvage this relationship and, at the same time, striving to act in a manner consistent with the legacy of those who have gone before us. We refuse to give up hope that Campbellsville and the churches of the KBC can walk together in covenant.