Campbell Divinity School is grateful for partnerships that have been established with local churches in North Carolina and in surrounding states. Cedar Falls Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC is a prime example.
The congregation at Cedar Falls Baptist Church has been a part of the Campbell Divinity family from the very beginning. When the Divinity School was founded in 1996, Cedar Falls was looking for a way to support young men and women who were going into the ministry. The congregation wanted to provide support and affirmation for ministers who were seeking to better serve the Lord by equipping themselves through theological education. The prayers and support of the church came to fruition in the form of an endowed scholarship.
On May 26, 1998, The Cedar Falls Baptist Church Divinity School Endowed Scholarship Trust Agreement was established by and between the congregation of Cedar Falls Baptist Church and Campbell University Divinity School. Ed Gilchrist, Maurice Taylor and Otho Tew were the members of the congregation who signed the trust agreement. Each member was instrumental in establishing the scholarship. Sadly, Mr. Gilchrist and Mr. Tew passed away in 1999 and 2001, respectively. Mr. Taylor is still an active member of Cedar Falls, serving as a trustee, a member of the adult choir and being named a deacon emeritus.
Mr. Taylor is part of one of the founding families of Cedar Falls Baptist Church. About 140 years ago, the church began as a small community that met in a member’s home down on the banks of the river. Due to the faithfulness and stewardship of its members, the church has now grown into a campus located on 401 with a sanctuary, chapel, fellowship hall, education wing, children’s wing and recreation fields.
Cedar Falls Baptist Church has had a long history that includes the service of many individuals connected to Campbell Divinity School. The most recent pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Sholar, who served from March 2010 to April 2019, has special connections to Campbell University, as he has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religion, a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the school. Before Dr. Sholar was called to serve as pastor of the church, Dr. Michael Cogdill, Founding Dean of the Divinity School, served as Interim Pastor. In addition, Rev. Doug Thompson, who serves as Minister of Music and Ministerial Assistant, has Campbell connections, as well. Rev. Thompson has built relationships with many Campbell faculty and staff and has participated in various church music related events over the past fifteen years.
There have been several gifted members, leaders and ministers from Cedar Falls who have attended Campbell Divinity School. Current student Ron Houser serves as Minister of Youth and Outreach at Cedar Falls and graduated with a Master of Divinity degree in May 2019.
Johnny Jackson is also a current Master of Divinity student who is a very active member of Cedar Falls. Johnny is a recipient of the church’s scholarship and she expresses her gratitude by noting, “The people of Cedar Falls Baptist Church are very near and dear to my heart, and being able to be a recipient of their scholarship came as an unexpected blessing to me.” Johnny continues by exclaiming, “I wouldn’t be able to attend Campbell University Divinity School without them. I hope to one day be able to make as much of an impact on someone’s life as the people of Cedar Falls Baptist Church have made on me.”
When reflecting on his time as pastor, Dr. Sholar describes the relationship between Campbell Divinity School and Cedar Falls Baptist Church as a “tremendous partnership.” Over the years, the church has invited professors to speak and lead revivals, and they have also extended invitations to the different schools on campus to host various events. The church has had a lot of confidence in Campbell Divinity because they have seen and experienced first-hand through people like Dr. Cogdill, Dr. Sholar, and Ron that the school is equipping folks to study the Bible and live out the teachings that Jesus taught us.
The members of Cedar Falls are described as being “good stewards of both their time and their resources.” The church is very future-oriented, as they try to focus on attracting the next generation. They continue to explore ways they can reach out to visitors and care for the needs of younger adults and their children, while also maintaining thriving relationships with their senior adult members.
“The heart of the congregation is special,” Dr. Sholar explained. “In the eyes of the congregation, Campbell is a very special place.” These are reasons why the church continues to generously give to Campbell Divinity School and support its students. Not only is Cedar Falls Baptist Church a blessing to their community and to the members of the church, but they are also a blessing to our Campbell Divinity family. The school is grateful for their partnership and for their commitment to nurture and support students who strive to be Christ-Centered, Bible-Based and Ministry-Focused.
— MURIEL LASATER