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Seminary’s ‘Valley of Decision’ known for marriage propos

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–The couple strolled down the hill. Noticeably silent, Rob Plummer held a Bible in one hand and Chandi Millet’s hand in the other. Unbeknownst to her, he carried a small box as well.
Plummer and Millet knew the path. They had walked that way before — between the Boyce Centennial Library and the Carver Building at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. The serene valley allowed quiet talks and peaceful walks. Yet, that night a hint of tension touched the tranquility.
As they sat on a bench near a stone bridge in the bottom of the valley, the conversation grew serious. “I knew he was up to something,” said Millet, a master of arts student from Chattanooga, Tenn.
Plummer, a Ph.D. student from Brentwood, Tenn., took out his Bible and asked her to read Genesis 24 where Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac. The Lord led the servant to the correct woman after he prayed for guidance. And, he gave her jewelry as a pledge of that marriage.
Millet knew what was coming. “He turned to me and said, ‘I spoke to your father today,’” she recalled.
“I explained to Chandi how I felt that God had led me to her and shown that she was to be my wife,” said Plummer.
Plummer knelt on one knee, revealed the box and gave the gift to seal their engagement.
“I was crying so hard I couldn’t see the ring,” said Millet.
The diamond held special significance for Plummer: “What makes the diamond valuable is its cut, and how it reflects the light that shines into it. I was looking for a wife who would radiate and reflect back the light of God. And that is what I found in Chandi.”
Plummer and Millet, who will marry June 5, added two more names to the lore of the valley — a place known in Southern Seminary tradition as the “Valley of Decision.”
Legend says this mid-point between the Carver Building — which once housed the Woman’s Missionary Union Training School and now the houses James P. Boyce College of the Bible — and the men’s seminary campus was the location for many marriage proposals.
Henlee Barnette, a retired Southern Seminary professor, described the tradition: “Boys over at the seminary would go over to the WMU to date these girls. And right at the bottom of the valley was a marker that read, ‘We are laborers together with God.’ Allegedly, that is where a lot of ‘decisions’ were made.”
According to Barnette, many couples took this quotation to heart: “They had similar vocational callings — why not team up?”
Plummer and Millet are already teamed up as they serve in a youth ministry of a Chinese church that meets in the basement of Louisville’s Third Avenue Baptist Church. Since both have already worked in overseas mission efforts, they are strongly considering international missions work after they graduate from Southern Seminary.
Although the frequency of “decisions” in this hollow has diminished in recent years, every so often another couple will add to the tradition. Randy and Alice Hartley are an example.
The Hartleys’ “Valley” experience was 14 years ago — April 16, 1985. “I had taken Alice there before and had told her the story surrounding the ‘Valley of Decision.’ And upon initially hearing the story, she had pushed me to the other side of the bridge,” said Randy, a master of divinity student from Montgomery, Ala.
This time though, after walking to the bridge and helping Alice sit on the edge, there was no nudging — only kneeling. Randy dropped to one knee.
“She was silent,” said Randy of Alice, who could not believe her ears. “Once she realized I wasn’t kidding, she immediately said, ‘Yes!’” The Hartleys will celebrate their 13th anniversary June 7.
Randy would agree with Plummer’s assessment of the evening. “I’m a traditionalist. That’s why I wanted to get engaged in the Valley of Decision,” said Plummer. “There was no airplane towing a sign that asked, ‘Will you marry me?’ No half-time announcement at the Super Bowl. It was just a very nice, prayerful, thoughtful evening.”
An evening — a decision — that changed their lives.

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  • Bryan Cribb