CU School of Theology travels to Israel and Jordan for Holy Land tour

CU School of Theology travels to Israel and Jordan for Holy Land tour

April 2, 2014
For Immediate Release
One of the most holy locations in Israel is Jesus’ tomb. From left - back row: Melissa Goble, Shelby Hicks, Marissa Rehmet, Joey Bomia, Hunter Durham-Smith and Andy Matthies. Middle row: Zach Gray, Kevin Rothacker, Mary Kate Young, Aron Neal and Dalton Hicks. Front row: Brittney Casey, David Wray, Adam Coleman, Sheri Taylor, Dr. Ted Taylor and Pam Hurtgen.

By Samantha Stevenson, student news writer

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. -- Campbellsville University’s School of Theology took 36 students, faculty, family, friends or CU alumni to Israel and Jordan on a Holy Land tour.

Their tour began in Jordan, where travelers were able to see the famous biblical sites from the Old and New Testament, including the tomb of Moses, the Dead Sea and the site where John the Baptist was beheaded. The rest of the trip was spent in Israel, where travelers got to experience other famous biblical sites like the Sea of Galilee, the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed, the tomb where He was buried and some of the known paths He walked.

Dr. Scott Wigginton, professor of pastoral ministries and counseling, organized the trip. He was accompanied by Dr. John Hurtgen, dean of the School of Theology; Dr. Shane Garrison, assistant professor of educational ministries; Dr. Ted Taylor, director of the Big Maroon Club and former professor in the School of Theology, and Ed Pavy, director of campus ministries. They, along with Brad Lauer, discipleship pastor at Campbellsville Baptist Church, led devotionals at some of the major sites and stops.

Others travelers on the trip included Melissa Goble of California; Matthew Feather from Campbellsville, Ky.; Adam Coleman from Owensboro Ky.; Brittney Casey, Zachary Gray and his father, Mark Gray, from Harrodsburg, Ky.; Kevin Rothaker from Milton, Tenn.; Marissa Rehmet from Independence Ky.; Dalton Hicks and his wife, Shelby, from Paducah Ky.; Mary Kate Young from Paris, Ky.; Hunter Smith from Hardyville, Ky.; Joey Bomia from Marion, Ky.; Aron Neal from Lockland, Ohio; and Noah Blackburn from Proctorville, Ky.

Others included Garrison’s father, Danny Garrison; Stephen Horner and his son, Aaron, and daughter-in-law, Laura, from Louisville, Ky.; Taylor’s wife Sheri; Dr. Hurtgen’s wife, Pam, and son Peter; Phil and Tina Speller from Apollo Beach, Fla.; Mary Stansbury and Joan Stansbury, former secretary to the director of campus ministries, from Nashville, Tenn; Steve Arnold of Campbellsville; David Wray of Campbellsville; Tommy Ramey; and Andy Matthies who also traveled with the School of Theology.

During the trip, many were baptized in the
River Jordan by Campbellsville University
faculty and staff members, Dr. Ted Taylor,
Dr. Shane Garrison, Dr. Scott Wigginton 
and David Wray. From left: Taylor, Shelby
Hicks, Dalton Hicks and Garrison.

After visiting Jordan, they crossed into Israel through the Bethany River, where Jesus is said to have been baptized by John the Baptist. Here, seven travelers were also baptized in the same spot. Taylor helped Garrison baptize his father, Danny.

“I was there with my biological father, my spiritual father and in the presence of my Holy Father,” Garrison said.

The two also baptized Marissa Rehmet and Dalton and Shelby Hicks. Other baptisms include Tommy Ramey, Brad Lowe and Aron Neal.

At the site of the tomb in Jerusalem where Jesus is said to have been buried, CU Baptist Campus Ministry president Noah Blackburn and president-elect Joey Bomia led their peers, professors and fellow travelers in a meaningful worship service and communion.

“It was my first experience of participating in a Lord’s Supper that was not held in a Baptist church venue,” Campbellsville alumnus and Advancement Board member Horner said.

When they returned to Campbellsville, several of the travelers spoke of their favorite experiences on Wednesday, March 26 at CU’s weekly chapel service.

Aron Neal said one of his most challenging but rewarding moments was hiking up a mountain in Masada, Israel.

“It was hard getting up there, but that’s how life is sometimes. Sometimes it’s hard, but at the end it’s worth it when you’re standing in the presence of God,” Neal said.

Neal and Smith took the trek to the top.

Dr. John Hurtgen interprets the Greek
writing found on the floor of this very old
temple. From left: Hurtgen, David Wray, Rev.
Ed Pavy, Rev. Brad Lauer, Tommy Ramey,
Aron Neal and Joey Bomia.

“There were no words for the view the top. All you could see was mountains. It was just really cool,” Smith said.

Another student, Mary Kate Young, said her most memorable moments came from one of the last days of the trip, when she was able to perform an impromptu hymn for her fellow travelers at the site where Peter is believed to have preached at Pentecost.

“I sang ‘How Great Thou Art,’ and was able to worship the same God in Israel that I do here in Campbellsville. As a music student, it was a surreal experience that I’ll never forget,” Young said.

This is the third trip the School of Theology has taken, and the second one to Israel. In past trips, they traveled to Greece and Turkey to follow the path of Paul. In 2016, they are planning a trip to Italy and Germany for a look at several historical churches and sites relating to the Protestant Reformation.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,600 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master’s degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is

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