I, like many of you, have read a number of recent articles about Campbellsville University. I have to be honest, as I read some of them, I found myself taking some of the content personally, and that caught me off guard. So instead of being judgmental and critical of others, I began to ponder as to why I was reacting this way. Upon reflection, I realized the truth behind my emotional response to the CU articles, and decided to share this truth with you. (I give you fair warning: segments of this letter are going to get rather sappy!)
I am a preacher’s kid. My father, Thurman Eaton, pastored churches in Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Like a lot of preacher’s kids, regular moves meant that I really didn’t have a hometown like most children – that is, until we moved to the Greensburg and Campbellsville areas when I was seven years old. Since then, I have loved Campbellsville so deeply that I am prone to say that all good things come from or through Campbellsville.
With Campbellsville as my home, I have had some point of connection with CU for the last forty seven years! Students from the university either served or attended the churches my father pastored. Professors from the university came to our churches and taught the January Bible studies, led revivals, preached sunrise services, and taught extension classes to my father.
And my relationship with CU didn’t stop there. Even though I was a hometown kid and CU was our hometown school, CU began to show interest in me. CU gave this local athlete an opportunity to play college baseball, and I proudly took that opportunity.
As a student, I was a believer, but I was not a ministerial student. In fact, I was not very active in the ministerial focus of CU at all. (I was actually running from anything ministry-related!) And even though my major and minor had nothing to do with biblical studies or theology, I could not outrun the gospel message that pursued me on that campus. And as I began to search God’s will for my life, I found my calling. As a CU student, God called me to preaching and pastoral ministry.
Since graduating from CU in 1983, I have earned two more degrees and have pastored for 28 years. And in that time, my relationship to CU continued to grow. I have been seated on committees, chaired boards, preached campus revivals, led chapel and convocations services, raised money for mission trips, and taught as an adjunct professor in the School of Theology.
Some readers may assume that, based on that list, I have a pretty active relationship with CU. The truth is most of that activity is past tense. My present relationship with CU is dormant at best.
All this to say: the deeply personal response I had to recent articles about CU led me to examine who I was in relation to CU, and that process helped me realize how much connection I have had and desire to have with the school. I realize now how much CU has poured into me. I see the value of the personal relationships I have with past presidents, administrators, and with former and current professors. I recognize now how much God has used this school to form me, prepare me, and send me with the mission of Christ and His gospel.
So here is my response: Some time ago I called Dr. Michael Carter, CU’s current president, and asked him to forgive me for not being active in the school that so greatly invested in me. I have pledged to him and to CU my support. I love this school and it’s people.
So here I am publicly pledging my leadership, my gifts, and my support to help Campbellsville University become everything that our Lord intends for her to be – academically, spiritually, missionally, and theologically – and I ask alumni and friends of CU to do the same.
Some may think that I am using this to gain influence with the university and be appointed on the Board of Trustees. If you know me at all, you know that nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t run to boards; I usually run from them!
I give thanks to the Lord and how He used Campbellsville University to invest in me, to pursue me with His gospel message, to form me, and to send me as a minister of His precious gospel!
Jeff Eaton, pastor
Hope Community Church