By Bob Allen
The Kentucky Baptist Convention voted Nov. 12 to sever ties with Georgetown College, a historically Baptist liberal-arts school chartered in 1829.
The motion to terminate a partnership agreement between the entities struck in 2005 was scheduled for vote last year but postponed by this year’s retirement of Georgetown President William Crouch. The intent was to see if Crouch’s successor would be interested in continuing terms of the agreement, including that 75 percent of the college board of trustees be Kentucky Baptists.
KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood told messengers at this year’s annual meeting that in a meeting Georgetown’s new president, Dwaine Greene, indicated “he had no desire, nor did he feel his board of trustees had any desire to once again become covenant partners with the KBC.”
Alan Redditt, pastor of Georgetown Baptist Church, objected to the vote, saying messengers were not properly notified by advance publication in the book of reports and the Western Recorder state newspaper as outlined in convention bylaws.
“A year ago it was announced that we are going to give the new president an opportunity to succeed,” Reddit said. “That’s all I’m asking for. Dr. Greene thought that we were people of our word, that’s why he’s here as a guest.”
“Let’s keep our word,” Reddit said. “Let’s give him every opportunity to succeed, and then let’s evaluate the situation if necessary with 30 days’ notice in the Western Recorder before the 2014 annual meeting in Bowling Green.”
“I’ve never known Kentucky Baptists to kick a man when he was down,” Reddit said.
Chitwood said convention leaders believed the motion was in order, because it was announced a year ago and was unchanged from the original executive board recommendation. Chitwood said Greene, who officially took office Oct. 21, could not meet with him early enough to beat the book of reports printing deadline, and it would have been a disservice for the new president to read in the state newspaper that the convention had already decided to sever ties before their meeting.
Chitwood said the meeting with Greene was cordial, and the two talked about common interests including turkey hunting.
“I gave my cellphone number to Dwaine Greene,” Chitwood said. “If they ever want to be a covenant partner or talk about other ways of partnering in ministry, I told him I would love to hear from him.”
The vote concludes a four-year process that included a state convention study committee of the Georgetown relationship stemming from differences not only about board makeup, but also Georgetown’s decision to alter its identity statement from sectarian Baptist to one “built on a Baptist foundation” in pursuit of “a knowledge of and commitment to the Christian faith.”