Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

October 11, 2012

The next step

College to further separate from Baptist convention

The Independent

ASHLAND — Georgetown College — which has provided a quality education to generations of students, including many from this region — wants to further sever its ties to the Kentucky Baptist Convention. This “divorce” between church and college apparently is a friendly one sought by both the small college in central Kentucky and Southern Baptist churches throughout the state.

Georgetown College and the Kentucky Baptist Convention broke off a covenant agreement in 2005 in order to allow Georgetown to elect its own trustees. Georgetown pushed to cut those ties in the hopes it would improve fundraising, but it also was a risky move for the college because it meant giving up about $1.4 million in annual support from Kentucky Baptists.

At its annual meeting next month, the Kentucky Baptist Convention will be asked to take the next step toward distancing itself from Georgetown College. It will vote on a recommendation that would terminate its ministry partnership with the college. An administrative committee voted in September in favor of the measure. The resolution says the convention wishes to focus its attention on institutions with which it has existing covenant agreements.

Georgetown hardly will be the first college to break its ties from the Christian denomination that founded it. A number of years ago, Pikeville College — now known as the University of Pikeville — broke off its ties with the United Presbyterterian Church, and other colleges throughout the state and nation have reduced their ties to their founding churches.

If its new arrangement is approved as expected, Georgetown College will continue to be an excellent school that holds its students to high moral codes of conduct. It just no longer will be a “Baptist college.”

However, while colleges across the state and country are reducing their ties to religious denominations, it provides a reminder of just how important the Christian church was in promoting higher education in Kentucky. Without the initial support of the church, many of the outstanding private schools in this state simply would not exist.