PINEVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Bill Whittaker, president of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College since 1988, has announced his resignation effective at the end of the 2006-07 academic year.
“The time has come for me to turn the leadership task over to another,” Whittaker told trustees in a letter announcing his resignation.
Whittaker, 63, noted that “it was my personal desire to remain at Clear Creek until my retirement from full-time ministry. The Lord would not allow that; the time is now. I have submitted myself to His will and will follow His direction.”
Tim Langford, chairman of Clear Creek’s board of directors, said it will be “a significant loss for Clear Creek for Bill Whittaker to leave the helm.”
“You cannot drive on Clear Creek’s campus now without noticing a marked improvement in the facilities,” Langford said. “And it goes much beyond facilities upgrade. He has made significant strides in ensuring the financial soundness of the college. The overall educational experience at Clear Creek has been enhanced.”
Whittaker, who served as Kentucky Baptist Convention president in 1980-81, also was a pastor and international missionary before being elected to head Clear Creek. He is a graduate of Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and Union College in Barbourville, Ky.
He and his wife, Rebecca, served four years in the Philippines with the former Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board).
Whittaker said he first became acquainted with Clear Creek in 1969 when his neighbor Don Burnett, a Clear Creek graduate and pastor of Andrew Baptist Mission, invited Whittaker to accompany him to deliver free turkeys to the students and staff for their Christmas celebrations.
The Christmas “Turkey Day” giveaways became an annual tradition for Whittaker, who then was pastor of Jackson Grove Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Ky.
Even after Burnett died in 1971, Whittaker continued making the five-hour drive to Clear Creek, often speaking in chapel during his visits.
That tradition has continued during Whittaker’s tenure and now includes a turkey, potatoes and cash gift for each student. He said he hopes to oversee the event even after he departs.
Whittaker said one of the reasons he was elected to lead Clear Creek was because of his involvement with Turkey Day. When trustees were seeking a president, “a few people said, ‘Get the turkey man!’” he recalled.
During his years at Clear Creek, Whittaker led the Kentucky Baptist school to renovate student housing, construct additional housing, eliminate debt, double the school’s endowment and endow four teaching chairs.
He also led the school through its recent reaccreditation with both the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Association for Biblical Higher Education.
“All the major goals I have had have been achieved,” Whittaker said. “I’m very grateful for that.
“There are new initiatives the school needs to face and do,” he added. “I think it would be better for someone to have a length of time to implement those.”
Bill Mackey, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, noted that Whittaker “has always had a burden for Clear Creek students and the ministry of Clear Creek since the 1970s. He will be sorely missed in this leadership role among Kentucky Baptists.”
Mackey added that Whittaker, who also is editor of Kentucky Baptist Heritage, the Kentucky Baptist Archives Board’s newsletter, “has a keen interest in history, especially the history of Kentucky Baptists. In this case he has been part of marking history in his leadership at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in training hundreds of leaders for churches and mission work around the world.”
Trennis Henderson is editor of the Western Recorder, newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Additional reporting provided by Western Recorder news director David Winfrey.