LOUISVILLE — The Business and Finance Committee of the Mission Board voted Thursday to maintain scholarships to Kentucky Baptist students attending Campbellsville University even though the university’s board announced earlier this week it would begin selecting its own trustees.
According to KBC’s attorney, James Taylor, Campbellsville’s decision is “clearly inconsistent with its Covenant Agreement with Kentucky Baptists.”
Campbellsville President Michael Carter declared in a written statement released on Wednesday that the university would “phase out direct Cooperative Program funding from KBC over a four-year period.” In response KBC Business and Finance Committee chairman Don Mathis recommended his committee immediately begin to escrow CP funds budgeted for Campbellsville.
“Having reviewed the facts surrounding this unilateral move made by Campbellsville to form a self-perpetuating board and therefore nullify the Covenant Agreement, I feel this recommendation is in order,” Mathis said. “It will give us time to study the matter before we send more CP funds.”
The committee approved the recommendation. Mathis went on to state, “I agree with the KBC officers that this decision should not impact scholarship funds to our Kentucky Baptist students already enrolled at Campbellsville. We don’t want them to suffer because of Campbellsville’s decision.” Scholarship funds are distributed separately from the annual CP allocation.
KBC executive director Paul Chitwood reminded the Mission Board on Thursday that the Covenant Agreement, adopted by the KBC and the university in 1986, was written “to protect students.” The language of the covenant stipulates that “This Covenant Agreement shall not terminate except on notification of one party to the other at a meeting of the Kentucky Baptist Convention in annual session at least four (4) years prior to the date of said termination.”
Chitwood explained, “The four-year notification was not randomly chosen but instead represents the general time period required to earn a degree. Thus, students who entered CU as a KBC institution and presumably dependent upon KBC scholarships could complete their degrees without fear of the schools identity being altered or their scholarships being lost.”
Without the required notice at the KBC annual meeting and without the required four-year leeway, CU has violated the agreement and created a self-perpetuating board.
The future of KBC’s relationship with Campbellsville remains uncertain. Though Campbellsville’s board chairman Joseph Owens has released a public statement calling for dialogue, he has yet to respond to requests for a meeting from KBC president Chip Hutcheson.
As for the two remaining undergraduate educational institutions in covenant with Kentucky Baptists, University of the Cumberlands President James Taylor released the following statement on Thursday:
“With the debate that has been occurring over the past few days, I want the Kentucky Baptist churches and our members to know that University of the Cumberlands has had no plans to sever our relationship with the Kentucky Baptist Convention. We are a KBC institution, have been and will continue to be a KBC institution. Why would we wish to be anything else? We are indebted to the KBC for its support, for the students the KBC sends our way and for the good will of the KBC. This message, however, is not meant to question the actions of other institutions, but only to express plainly and clearly University of the Cumberlands’ desire to remain affiliated with the KBC.”
Clear Creek Baptist Bible College President Donnie Fox expressed the same sentiment in a statement Friday:
“With the news of recent events in our Kentucky Baptist Convention, I realize that there may be questions from Kentucky Baptists concerning Clear Creek Baptist Bible College and our covenant agreement we have with our Kentucky Baptist Convention. Please know that Clear Creek Baptist Bible College is firmly committed to the covenant agreement which we have been a part of for many years. Clear Creek Baptist Bible College has been a KBC institution since 1946 and we look forward to many more years of Kingdom work together with the KBC as we continue with our covenant agreement. Clear Creek is so thankful for the faithful Cooperative Program giving from Kentucky Baptist Convention churches which enables us to fulfill our one mission, which is to provide training for those called of God to do ministry. We can only do this best as we partner together cooperatively to share the Good News of Jesus Christ from Covington to the Cumberlands and Pikeville to Paducah. We are proud to be The Bible College of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.”