By Joan C. McKinney, director of university communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – “We want students to meet God in this place.”
“We learn from the past and look toward the future. Bless the mission of Campbellsville University and her ministry.”
“The chapel will not only be a place where students ‘find their calling,’ but it will be a place where they will experience mercy and grace.”
“We pray that the holy spirit take up residence in the chapel and in the holy ground.”
These prayers, and many others, were said during a Day of Prayer for the Ransdell Chapel at Campbellsville University Dec. 11. At the end of the day, a donation of $6,000 put the “Ransdell Challenge” to the $500,000 mark.
Dr. George Ransdell, a member of the CU Board of Trustees, and his wife, Marie, pledged $500,000 if the university raised $500,000. The Ransdells had previously given a lead gift of $1.5 million.
The chapel, which will seat 900, was a dream of CU president Michael V. Carter when he first came to CU in 1998. He said, “We so thank George and Marie Ransdell for their passion for the chapel and for young people. I can hear Marie say now ‘I can’t stand the thought of those children going to the gym to worship.’”
“The Ransdell Chapel is the result of people who caught the vision of a much-needed chapel on campus. We are thankful for those kind and gentle hearts. We want all who enter this chapel to have their lives turned around with the good news of Jesus Christ,” Carter said.
The Day of Prayer began with a Prayer Breakfast in which students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends said individual prayers for the chapel.
The Rev. James Washington prayed that the “holy spirit take up residence in the chapel and prepare students for service in the world of Jesus Christ.”
Ed Pavy, director of campus ministries, who led the Day of Prayer, thanked God for the blessings He has given us. “The chapel is not just brick and mortar,” he said. “It is a holy place and, when people walk in the chapel, we want the presence of the holy spirit to be in this place.
“We want students to come to know Jesus Christ here.”
Students, faculty and staff, along with others, prayed continuously from 9:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. Pavy had distributed a list of 100 prayer concerns in honor of CU’s 100 years of existence.
A cornerstone and steeple were set in ceremonies following the Prayer Breakfast. The cornerstone read: “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it” from Psalm 127:1.
The cornerstone featured a time capsule with information about the Ransdell Chapel placed in it along with a listing of the names of all those who attended the ceremony.
Dr. Alan Medders, vice president for development, thanked the 400 plus donors who have made contributions to the chapel.
Dr. Robert S. Clark, former vice president for academics and professor of CU, who is head of the Taylor County Baptist Association, thanked all of the churches for their cooperation with CU. He also thanked the Lord for the founders of Russell Creek Academy in 1906.
The Rev. John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president, said one of the highlights of the university’s centennial celebration has been the construction of the Ransdell Chapel. “A great university requires a beautiful chapel and a place to worship,” he said.
Dr. Dave Morris of Warsaw, Ky., chair of the CU Board of Trustees, said, “This is a special day on our journey. Education is about relationships, and the Ransdell Chapel can and will experience success of relationships between the Lord and each other.”
One of the highlights of the Day of Prayer was the placement of the steeple and cross on the Ransdell Chapel. The steeple, which is dedicated to Jerry Bennett, former chair of the Board of Trustees, who died in 2006, is 58 feet long, including the cross on the top of the steeple. The steeple weighs 2,500 pounds.
Jeff Bennett, with Omni Architects of Lexington, said his father considered it a privilege to help develop the chapel. “He would love to be here today.”
Bennett said, “This is the house of the Lord and soon we will gather and worship.”
The chapel is slated to be finished in early spring with the dedication in April.
A columnar oak tree was also planted on campus in memory of Bennett, who graduated from CU in 1963, for his love and commitment to CU. His wife, Jackie, a 1971 alumna of CU, said she had always thought of her husband as an oak.
Another tree, an aristocrat pear, was planted in honor of Dr. and Mrs. J. Chester Badgett’s 70th wedding anniversary. Badgett is the author of the university’s history book.
During the candlelit prayer walk through the chapel, students, faculty, staff and alumni were asked to tour the building and pray for the various persons who would be participating in the many programs in the chapel. The Ransdell Chapel is expected to be in use every hour of the day.
Pavy also encouraged everyone to write their favorite scripture verse on the concrete chapel floor, etc., and to remember where their “special place” is. The verses will be covered with the floor’s furnishings.
Pavy led a tour of the building which will house offices of the Baptist Campus Ministry as well as a small chapel, multi-media room, seating for 800 and 100 on stage (large enough for a medium orchestra) and a small kitchen.
“This building is not a monument to stand and look beautiful,” Pavy said, “it is a symbol of God’s love.”
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.