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Ky. colleges cross racial lines in new partnership

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Leaders of Campbellsville University and Simmons College of Kentucky have crossed racial and geographical boundaries to forge a long-term ministry partnership.

Campbellsville, which is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, and Simmons, a predominantly African American school affiliated with the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, will work together in such initiatives as a faculty exchange program, collaboration on courses to benefit students in the Louisville metro area and joint mission projects and worship experiences. Campbellsville also will provide Simmons assistance in such areas as library resources, academic accreditation and developing athletic programs.

The agreement was signed March 8 by Campbellsville President Michael Carter and Simmons President Kevin Cosby during a partnership covenant service on Simmons’ Louisville campus. Campbellsville is located about 90 miles south of Louisville.

Cosby, also pastor of St. Stephen Baptist Church in Louisville, compared the covenant agreement to the 1995 Southern Baptist Convention apology for historic acts of racism.

Noting that the SBC action denounced slavery and Southern Baptists’ “theological justification for such a sick sociology and a sick anthropology,” Cosby added, “Many times documents that we sign become mere sentimentality. They are only substantive when we do substantive things like collaborate for the betterment of all people.”

Cosby said it is important for Campbellsville and Simmons to cooperate together “because it makes a statement to the world about our faith.”

Citing the lack of leadership and opportunity in many blight-stricken urban neighborhoods, Cosby said, “The only way we can reverse that trend is through education….There is a need to educate the masses of people in this neighborhood.”

Cosby expressed appreciation to Campbellsville officials for their willingness to “dream with us on how we might improve the quality of lives for people who are so invisible and have been written off.”

Emphasizing that the partnership is a two-way effort, he added, “We will continue to explore ways in which we might benefit each other and we will maintain a spirit of unity and cooperation.”

Carter described the partnership launch as “an historic and important time in the life of our two institutions.”

“We come together because we believe this is the right thing to do,” Carter noted. “As we look at Baptist history, we have always known that we could accomplish so much more if we would come together and work jointly.”

Acknowledging past racial and cultural barriers between Anglo and African American Baptists, Carter said, “Our hearts are saddened when that cooperation did not take place because of race or place of origin.” While learning from the past, he added that “there are elements of the past that we must leave behind.”

Inviting Cosby to “teach me and help me and help Campbellsville University move beyond our 100-year history when at times there was discrimination in our past,” Carter declared, “History can be rewritten anew beginning today.

“I do know that God is faithful,” he added. “Together, the world can be better and the world can be changed and we can do it.”

Campbellsville, founded in 1906, has a current enrollment of 2,080 students and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Simmons, founded in 1879, has an enrollment of 65 students. Currently accredited by the International Association of Bible Colleges and Seminaries, Simmons is seeking accreditation from the Association for Biblical Higher Education.
Trennis Henderson is editor of the Western Recorder, newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Conveniton, on the Web at www.westernrecorder.org.

    About the Author

  • Trennis Henderson

    Trennis Henderson is the national correspondent for WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union). A Baptist journalist for more than 35 years, Henderson is a former editor of the Western Recorder of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and the Arkansas Baptist News state convention newsjournal.

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