Despite the action, the university proposed in a statement Wednesday that the KBC not stop providing financial support immediately, but to reduce the amount incrementally over the next four years until zeroing it out.
KBC provides about $1 million a year to Campbellsville through the Cooperative Program.
“We are terribly saddened to learn that Campbellsville has adopted bylaws inconsistent with their Covenant Agreement with the churches of the Kentucky Baptist Convention,” said KBC President Chip Hutcheson. “The statement released by Campbellsville brings to mind the husband who wants to divorce his wife but still offers to live with her. The university has taken steps to remove itself from a covenant relationship yet still wants to claim it is ‘committed’ to the family. Nevertheless, we have requested dialogue with the university but have yet to hear from them.”
Campbellsville President Michael Carter and Board of Trustees Chairman Joseph Owens said in the statement that the new bylaws “gives the board more flexibility in its relationship with the KBC.” That flexibility would allow the university to decide who serves on the board of trustees, without input from the KBC.
Hutcheson said he considers concerns voiced by the university over ‘undue influence’ or ‘theological and doctrinal control’ as baseless.
“The KBC has no influence or control over the university except that of approving trustees the university selects,” Hutcheson said. “Kentucky Baptists have always been a diverse people with a ‘big tent’ mentality. That hasn’t changed. We had hoped Campbellsville would remain united in covenant with our family.”
KBC leaders, concerned about President Carter’s suggestion last year that KBC had inappropriate influence over the university, solicited the legal arbitration of a retired Kentucky Supreme Court justice to make a decision regarding the language and stipulations of the Covenant Agreement. KBC also solicited the opinion of Campbellsville’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and received the assurance from both parties that the Covenant Agreement does not grant KBC undue influence. “If Campbellsville wants to leave the covenant, they are free to do so,” explained Hutcheson. “We just see no reason for it and hate they have made this decision without so much as a conversation.”