The Reverend R. Todd Blake (’01, ’05 MDiv, ’15 DMin) loves Campbell University so much he could not stay away. Blake has earned three degrees from Campbell over the course of eleven years: a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Divinity, and a Doctor of Ministry. Now the pastor of Madison Heights Baptist Church in Virginia, he credits Campbell for having “helped me [in] understanding my calling to the pastorate and developed in me a love for preaching and pastoral care.”
Not only did Blake develop deep friendships and a passion for ministry while at Campbell, he began a very special relationship while he was there. Blake met his wife, Kim (’04), in front of Day Dorm on her third day of school. “My family began at Campbell,” he said. Blake is now extending that attitude of family into his ministry, an attitude fostered by his professors. “My professors truly love the church. That is evident in their teaching and in their personal investment in the local church. Their love for Christ’s church helped my own love for the church to grow,” he said.
Blake originally chose Campbell Divinity School based off of the recommendation of another Campbell alumnus, Rick Bennett (’94). At the time, Bennett worked for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, an organization of Baptist churches in Virginia. Blake currently works for the fellowship as moderator of their advisory council. “[Bennett] believed that among all of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s partner schools, Campbell had the strongest and deepest connections to the local church. In all my years at Campbell University Divinity School, I found this to [be] true time and time again,” he said.
Blake began his ministry at Madison Heights Baptist Church in 2010. He believes that his training by the faculty at the Divinity School has made him ready for this position, and that those mentors continue to influence him every day. He said, “Every week as I prepare to preach, I still hear the voice of the late Roy De Brand, challenging me to focus on scripture – how it spoke when it was written, how it speaks today, and what the church is challenged to do in light of scripture. I try to read scripture slowly and clearly so that everyone can hear and understand. That is [how] Dean Cogdill taught us to read. ‘When you think you can’t read it any slower, read slower,’ he would tell us. In my head, Cameron Jorgenson, who supervised my doctoral project, is still challenging me to balance tradition, orthodoxy, and history with a fresh and creative look at how to communicate these timeless truths.”
Divinity School would be a distant dream for Blake without the financial support he received. He thanks the Fred Taylor family and the First Baptist Church of Troy, North Carolina, for making “Christian higher education possible for me at every level.” He said, “The scholarships received made it possible for my primary focus to be on preparation for ministry, rather than the costs. I could not have afforded the wonderful education I received at Campbell University Divinity School without generous donors investing in me and my theological education.” He continues to give back to the university by serving on Campbell’s Board of Ministers.
Because of Campbell Divinity School and the generosity shown towards him, Blake can now move forward in ministering to his own flock in Virginia. On the impact Campbell has made on his life, he said, “I do not even want to imagine what my life would look like today without the years I spent in Buies Creek.”
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