CU in the Holy Land: Campbellsville University students, faculty and friends embark on Israel tour

May 12, 2010
For Immediate Release

On a boat on the Sea of Galilee are CU faculty from left: Dr. Ted Taylor, Dr. Scott Wigginton, Dr. John Hurtgen, Dr. Shane Garrison and Dr. Dwayne Howell.







On a boat on the Sea of Galilee are CU faculty from left: Dr. Ted Taylor, Dr. Scott Wigginton, Dr. John Hurtgen, Dr. Shane Garrison and Dr. Dwayne Howell.


By Drew Tucker, student news writer

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Walking in many of the same places where Jesus once walked was inspiring for a group of Campbellsville University students, faculty, and friends who recently toured the Holy Land.

“The visit to Israel was an enlightening experience where I left a part of me at the Sea of Galilee,” said Phillip Speller from Tampa, Florida. “I hope to return – to continue the journey.”

The ten-day inspirational trip with Pilgrim Tours, an evangelical travel group based in Pennsylvania, began on March 16 of the university’s spring break and concluded on March 25. The Campbellsville pilgrims traveled to a wide variety of sites which included: the Mediterranean Sea, Mount Carmel, Caesarea, Dan, Capernaum, Qumran, Masada, Ein Gedi, Nazareth, Galilee, Bethlehem, the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, Golgotha, and spots in Jerusalem including the Garden of Gethsemane and the Garden Tomb.

“I could have stayed at the Garden Tomb all day long,” said CU student Marcus Stanfield of Campbellsville, Ky. “To see Golgotha and ponder on the crucifixion, then to walk over to what is quite possibly the tomb where our Lord laid for three days was breathtaking and awe-inspiring.”

“The whole experience of the place, the people, the emotional connection is so wonderful to contemplate,” said friend of CU, Tina Speller of Tampa, Fla. “It is like we had the perfect ingredients to a recipe of a divine dessert.”

For Dr. Ted Taylor, professor of Christian studies and lead professor of sports ministry, witnessing a Jordan River baptismal was deeply meaningful. Taylor even gathered some water from the Jordan River and brought it back to Campbellsville. Upon his return, he baptized four young girls, pouring the water into the baptismal waters of Columbia Baptist Church.

The trip to Israel originated in spring 2009 out of a conversation between Dr. Scott Wigginton, associate professor of pastoral ministries and counseling, and CU student Garett Lowery of Mt. Washington, Ky. Lowery had asked Wigginton about a possible mission trip to Ukraine, knowing that Wigginton had taken a group there previously.

“When I told him that this was not currently in my plans, he asked what was,” Wigginton said. “My immediate reply was that I had considered a trip to the Holy Land for some time.”

Wigginton worked through the summer doing research and tentatively assessed interest. “Dr. John Hurtgen, our dean of the School of Theology, was instantly enthusiastic and supportive of the trip, both for our students and faculty. It didn’t hurt that Dr. Hurtgen loves to teach the New Testament and Greek and knew that this trip would help our teaching and preaching of God’s Word in indescribable ways,” Wigginton said.

A meeting was held in early fall to assess interest and hopefully gain ten participants. To Wigginton’s surprise, dozens attended and 29 eventually signed up, a group which included seven CU professors, a staff member, thirteen students, and five friends from outside the university.

“What a tremendous blessing it was to have an opportunity like this one, in which so many Biblical themes became amplified by our surroundings and discussions,” Lowery said. “It is unusual to be able to get to know your professors at a personal level and to see what they are like outside of class.” Lowery, Baptist Campus Ministry president, was one of a number of students who also took a course taught and designed by Wigginton and colleagues which prepared the group by studying various aspects of Israel as well as biblical texts that made reference to sites they would visit.

Wigginton credited great support from Dr. Michael Carter, president of Campbellsville University, and Dr. Frank Cheatham, vice president for academic affairs, in encouraging students and faculty to go.

“It was a great opportunity forprofessional development for those faculty participating,” Cheatham said. Carter agreed. “Dr. Scott Wigginton and colleagues from the School of Theology planned and placed together an opportunity that enriched all who studied and traveled with this group,” Carter said.

According to Wigginton, “The Holy Land has truly served as a kind of fifth gospel to help me understand and appreciate God’s Word and the life of Jesus.” “The opportunity to travel to the land where Jesus lived and taught was a priceless experience for each of us who long to walk in His steps each day of our lives. Because of our hope to create world changers out of our School of Theology, this trip will be a gift that will keep on giving.”

“Because of this experience,” said Dr. Shane Garrison, assistant professor of educational ministries. “I will forever be a better Bible teacher, a more committed student of God’s word, and a more passionate follower of Jesus Christ.”

The School of Theology is already planning another trip for spring of 2013 to Greece and Turkey to follow the journeys of the Apostle Paul.

Campbellsville University 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 3,006 students who represent 97 Kentucky counties, 30 states and 37 foreign nations. Listed in U.S.News & World Report’s 2010 “America’s Best Colleges,” CU is ranked 23rd in “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the South, tied for fifth in “most international students” and fourth in “up-and-coming” schools in baccalaureate colleges in the South. CU has been ranked 17 consecutive years with U.S. News & World Report. The university has also been named to America’s Best Christian Colleges® and to G.I. Jobs magazine as a Military Friendly School. Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his 11th year as president.

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