EDUCATION DIGEST: KBC, Cumberlands take steps to end covenant agreement; Truett McConnell to launch publishing house

by Baptist College & BP Staff, posted Monday, October 29, 2018 (one month ago)

BP file photo.
Today's Education Digest: Kentucky Baptist Convention and University of the Cumberlands take steps to end voluntary covenant agreement; Truett McConnell University to launch publishing house.

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (BP) -- The University of the Cumberlands is working with Kentucky Baptist Convention leaders to take steps to dissolve their voluntary covenant agreement.

The proposal, which is subject to the approval of messengers at the 2018 KBC annual meeting, provides for UC to elect its own trustees.

During the summer, the university approached Paul Chitwood, executive director of the KBC, and the KBC Mission Board's administrative committee to request a modification to the 1986 agreement. A key change requested by UC leaders is sole responsibility for the appointment of trustees. At present, all UC trustees are elected by the KBC.

"Cumberlands has many distinguished alumni and friends who could provide expertise and resources for the university," said Larry L. Cockrum, the university's president. "At present, the university is unable to include some of these outstanding alumni on our board of trustees because they are Methodist, Presbyterian or members of other Christian denominations."

The KBC's administrative committee, meeting in August, decided it wasn't in the best interest to maintain a formal agreement with UC if the convention had no voice in the selection of its trustees. After continued discussions, the university's trustees voted unanimously to approve a request to dissolve the covenant agreement.

"University of the Cumberlands is grateful to the KBC for our many years of shared ministry and for the generous support of Kentucky Baptists," Cockrum said. "Cumberlands remains committed to fulfilling its mission as a Baptist institution encouraging intellectual and spiritual growth, leadership and service through educational programs enriched with Christian values."

While asking the KBC to approve the termination of the covenant agreement, Cumberlands' board expressed its hope that the university and the convention will find new ways to cooperate in future ministries.

As a show of appreciation and good will toward the KBC, Cumberlands is making a $1 million gift toward the convention's church planting efforts. UC also will return nearly $350,000 in Cooperative Program funds received from Kentucky Baptist churches during the current fiscal year, dating back to June 1.

KBC's administrative committee expressed its appreciation for the monetary gesture and voted on motions to lead to immediate termination of the covenant agreement upon approval by messengers to the Nov. 12-13 annual meeting in Pikeville.

Chitwood said the covenant agreement is a voluntary agreement between the university and KBC.

"The actions being proposed simply create the potential for a faster end to the existing covenant agreement rather than a four-year termination period that is currently stated," Chitwood said. "This proposal, according to our legal counsel, is permitted because the terms of the covenant agreement can be amended at any time if both the UC board and KBC messengers agree to the amendment."

Chitwood said he anticipates the matter will be discussed at the next mission board meeting, Nov. 12, prior to the KBC annual meeting. Hawesville pastor Barry Fields, a member of the KBC administrative committee who also chairs the agency & institutions committee of the mission board, has called a special meeting to discuss the covenant agreement's termination.

The university, which reports 10,000 students in undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and online degree programs, is located in the southeastern Kentucky town of Williamsburg.

The university announced in September it would lower tuition for on-campus undergraduate students by 57 percent for the 2018-2019 academic year under a plan known as "The Cumberlands Commitment".

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Truett McConnell to launch publishing house

CLEVELAND, Ga. (BP) -- Truett-McConnell University is launching a publishing house, TMU Press, with an unnamed donor's $200,000 gift.

According to a TMU news release, the new publishing house reflects President Emir Caner's vision "to expand the university's academia to the Christian population across the United States."

A university press, TMU stated, "provides valuable tools and opportunities" for "scholarship from the institution's faculty, staff, librarians, researchers and other university community members."

Another aim of TMC Press, the university news released stated, is "to increase brand awareness and thus help with recruitment of new students to TMU."

Truett McConnell University, located 80 miles northeast of Atlanta, is affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention, with an undergraduate enrollment of more than 2,500 students.

Peter Lumpkins has been named TMU Press director. "Lumpkins has served in various full-time Christian ministry roles since 1981, including senior pastor, executive pastor and director of city-wide crusade evangelism," TMU stated. "Along with his ministry background, the new director has an extensive portfolio in publishing as general editor, publisher of small group Bible study curriculum, and published author of three works."

TMU stated that Lumpkins already is working on two projects benefiting the Christian homeschool community as well as TMU students to be completed within the next three years: a K-12 science curriculum for homeschool students and an Anabaptist study Bible.

Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston from reporting by staffs of the University of the Cumberlands and Truett McConnell University.
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