BUIES CREEK – Campbell Divinity School hosted the 125th Anniversary of Campbell University with a “Reflections on Baptist Higher Education” service in Butler Chapel Monday.
The service celebrated Campell’s long-standing Baptist heritage, which dates to the first day of classes on Jan. 5, 1887, when the minister of Buies Creek First Baptist Church had a vision of a school where students would not be denied admission because of lack of funds. Dr. James Archibald Campbell’s passion for education was the driving force behind Buies Creek Academy.
“When Dr. Campbell opened Buies Creek Academy on the first day, Psalm 1 was read and everyone sang ‘Jesus Savor, Pilot Me,’” said Dr. Glenn Jonas, chairman of the Department of Religion and Philosophy. “Afterward, everyone went back to work and had class.”
Monday night’s service included a recollection of the old hymn by the University Choir and a reading of Psalm 1 by Campbell President Jerry Wallace, following a message by Dr. Walter Shurden on Baptist higher education.
Shurden said he believes Baptist institutions like Campbell should teach students to read critically, to think logically, to communicate effectively, to honor history and to act compassionate. He believes Baptist universities should incorporate church values, while still being an institution of higher education.
Additionally, Shurden praised the importance of professors and how they helped shape his faith.
“We are formed by what we admire,” Shurden said. “I vividly remember those professors who shaped my life, and for the most part the people who shaped me are people that I have never forgotten, and that is terribly significant. People have inspired me that you all would have never heard of.”
Jonas called Shurden one of the “best known Baptist historians in America.”
“He was my mentor in Baptist history when I was attending school, and I also attended a three-day summer seminar that he began,” Jonas said.
Shurden retired from Mercer University in 2007 after serving for almost 25 years as Callaway Professor of Christianity. He has written or edited 17 books and published numerous articles. He lives in Macon, Ga., with his wife Kay, and they have three children and six grandchildren.
Wallace said Campbell is grateful for its deep-rooted Baptist heritage and continues to be grateful for those that support its mission.
“Across the past 125 years, the support and encouragement given by the Little River Baptist Association, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship have made all the difference,” Wallace said. “Campbell’s Baptist heritage continues to be evident in the University's academic mission, in its emphasis on there being no conflictbetween a life of inquiry and faith and in its call for all students to invest themselves in lives of service to others.”
Story by Jonathan Bridges, Campbell University Communications intern