Campbellsville University Dedicates Newly Completed Ransdell Chapel

By Linda Waggener, assistant director of university communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE — Over 900 people gathered for the inaugural worship service and dedication ceremony in the newly completed Ransdell Chapel on the campus of Campbellsville University Wednesday, April 18.

Donors, trustees, alumni, students, faculty and staff filled the sanctuary, joined in a high-church celebration of the completion of the chapel, the pinnacle marking the university’s 100 years of service to Christ-centered education. Praise was offered up in music, song and word for the new Ransdell Chapel.

It began as a prayer eight years ago in the heart of then new president Michael V. Carter.

“After listening to the priority needs of student leaders,” Carter said, “I asked God to find a way for this university to have a beautiful chapel, a place for students to come where that still, small voice could be heard. God called George and Marie Ransdell to make that happen. George and Marie’s commitment to Jesus Christ, to Christian higher education and to Campbellsville University is one of the great testimonies.”

A member of the Board of Trustees since 1970, Ransdell has been part of the transformation in facilities and student enrollment at CU. In the fall of 2002, the Ransdells responded when Carter shared his vision for a new chapel on campus by committing a $1 million dollar gift. The couple committed an additional $1 million as construction of the $4.9 million Ransdell Chapel began. Since then nearly 400 others have given toward the chapel.

The Ransdells were accompanied to the event by their son Michael, daughter-in-law Amy, and grandchildren Tiffany, Ryan and Camille. Ransdell’s three sisters were also in attendance.

“As you can just imagine,” Carter said, “looking at the beauty of this building, the unique architectural detail, quality of the craftsmanship, the sound of her historic and wonderful pipe organ, the purity of sound from the grand piano, the light of God’s world coming through her majestic windows, this is the result of much planning, hours of prayerful consideration, hard work, design and re-design, workers who have been deeply concerned about quality and take pride in this building.”

Each member of the team was acknowledged for having brought the chapel to this day.

Noting the extraordinary prelude, processional and hymn of worship, Carter asked for a second round of applause and said, “We have been blessed to have the students and faculty from the CU School of Music under the direction of Dr. Robert Gaddis, dean, assisted by Dr. David McCullough, Dr. Frieda Gebert, Dr. Wesley Roberts and Mrs. Nevalyn Moore.”

The keepsake program detailed a highlight of the celebration, the “Ephesian Trilogy,” a piece created especially for the Campbellsville University large choir, orchestra and organ by noted American composer Jeff Cranfill who was also in the audience.

Leaders of the church in attendance included guest speaker Dr. Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Taylors, S.C.; and Dr. Bill Mackey, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention along with Dr. Steve Thompson and Lowell Ashbey and others from the KBC.

“I bring you congratulations from the Southern Baptist Convention,” Page said, “on this glorious day for Campbellsville University.” Referring to Hebrews chapter 12 for his comments, he said, “Lay aside your burdens, keep focused, do not be sidetracked, for every person has a God-planned design.

“My challenge for Campbellsville University is to understand that Jesus Christ is the author, the beginner and the finisher of our faith, and that you run with patience the race that is set for this school, remembering who is to receive the honor and glory for this day.

“When the day is done, students, faculty and staff will look back and say, ‘I drew closer to Christ in this place.’”

Bringing a message from the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Mackey told the congregation, “everyone at the KBC is proud of Dr. Carter’s leadership and all who made this chapel possible. It is a place where students, faculty and staff may discover their unique role.”

The call to worship was given by Dr. John Hurtgen, dean of the School of Theology with Old Testament scripture reading by the Rev. George Gaddie (’42), former member of the Board of Trustees, and New Testament Scripture reading by Dr. Sarah Stafford (’89), chair of the faculty and associate professor of English.

The invocation was given by the Rev. Ed Pavy, director, Baptist Campus Ministry, followed by a statement of the purpose of the chapel by Dr. Frank Cheatham, (’65) vice president for academic affairs.

The Rev. David Walters (’97 and ’04), vice president for admissions and student services, thanked the Ransdells on behalf of “all the students who were part of the dedication ceremony and all who are to come after them.”

The Rev. John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and planner of the dedication service said, “God has brought us to this moment of blessings in this place and may it be pivotal in the next 100 years.”

Speakers and announcers included Dr. David Morris, chairman of the CU Board of Trustees; the Rev. Skip Alexander, pastor of Campbellsville Baptist Church; the Rev. Todd Parish, director of Kentucky Heartland Outreach; Justin Watson (’07), president of the Baptist Campus Ministries; Corri Jermaine Irving (’07) who read the poem “Ransdell Chapel”; and Dr. Robert Clark, vice president emeritus representing Taylor County Baptists, who presented Dr. Carter with a $5,000 check toward the remaining chapel debt.

Carter said naming opportunities still exist for those who want to help with the remaining cost toward the goal of the chapel being completely debt free. In addition, he said he would like to see a $1 million endowment for the maintenance of the chapel. Naming opportunities are available for chairs, walkway stones and the Biblical miracle scenes in the back of the chapel.

The act of dedication with audience participation was led by Dr. Joseph Owens (’77), pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Lexington and member of the Board of Trustees.

In presenting the chapel keys to Dr. Carter, CU Trustee and Branscum Construction Company president Steve Branscum, said, “it takes a team of leaders, architects, engeneers and committees for each area of a project to bring together a building such as this landmark. It has been an honor to have been part of it all.”

CU Sound under the direction of Tim Hooper (’04) led the school song “Campbellsville, We Love The” before the benediction was given by Dr. Jeanette Parker (’84) assistant professor of psychology and faculty representative to the Board of Trustees.

The dedication can be enjoyed in its entirety on the internet by visiting, selecting Quick Links, scrolling down to streaming video and then clicking on Dedication of the Ransdell Chapel.

Campbellsville University, now celebrating her Centennial year, is a private, comprehensive institution located in South Central Kentucky. Founded in 1906, Campbellsville University is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has an enrollment of 2,310 students who represent 100 Kentucky counties, 32 states and 28 foreign nations. Listed in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” 14 consecutive years as one of the leading Southern master’s colleges and universities, Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his eighth year as president.

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