Church on the lake founded by CU alumnus, Dr. Jeff Eaton

Church on the lake founded by CU alumnus, Dr. Jeff Eaton

Sept. 14, 2010
For Immediate Release

 

By Linda Waggener, marketing and media relations coordinator

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Campbellsville University alumnus, Dr. Jeff Eaton, was in Russell County on Labor Day weekend for his annual guest speaking engagements at the church he founded at Lake Cumberland’s Jamestown Marina boat dock 21 years ago and also at Fairview Baptist Church.

 

 Attending the Jamestown Marina Labor Day
 service were from left, seated: Fairview Baptist
Church Elder Rabon Smith, Pastor Jeff Eaton and
Pastor Rick Mann. In the back are the pastors'
wives: Julie Winn Eaton, left, and Susan Branscum
Mann. (Campbellsville UniversityPhoto by Linda
Waggener)

Fairview Baptist Church Elder Rabon Smith originally delivered the request for a church on Lake Cumberland to his young pastor, Eaton, after Smith’s friend, marina developer Dudley Webb, appealed for help because his mother would not come to visit unless he had a Sunday church service there. The idea for the lakeside service was born then and has been in continuous service ever since.

Eaton, a 1983 graduate of Campbellsville University, is a native of Campbellsville. He planted a new church, Hope Community Church, in Lawrenceburg, Ky. after having served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Russell Springs for many years. His wife, Julie Winn Eaton, also a Campbellsville native and CU alumna, who attended from 1979 to 1981, sings on Hope’s praise teams.

The lake service is now directed by another CU alumnus, pastor Rick Mann, who finished in 2010, at Fairview Baptist church in Russell Springs, Ky. Mann always invites Eaton “home” to his lake service for the anniversary, and to also speak at Fairview’s homecoming.

Eaton recalls many stories from the lake service over the years before he moved on. One of them is of Gary Bullock who is now a pastor in Florida.

“Gary came here to get away, from everything including church,” Eaton said, “and not only found the peace he was looking for, but a calling to the ministry.”

When Jamestown Marina was developed on Lake Cumberland in Russell County, a village of 1,500 people soon came about, and people from Kentucky and surrounding states came to enjoy the boating, fishing and camping. Eaton said at that time the Kentucky Baptist Convention was guiding pastors to “points of service” and that the lake service was deemed to qualify.

The service on the lake is relaxed and informal with a continental breakfast. Julie Eaton led the congregation in a cappella singing of hymns as the boat rocked on the water. The service is held in the yacht club room of the Marina. It started out in the conference room of the hotel but has grown to need the full meeting room space of the yacht club down on the water at dock level. Surrounded by pleasure boats, pontoon boats and houseboats, the club room is central to all who live and vacation on the water.

Dutt Wilson, a longtime member of the lake service, said, “This is the perfect church, no winter services, no collections taken up.”

Eaton said, “But you have to admit it is a convenient place for baptizing.”

Eaton will be a guest lecturer in the School of Theology at CU Louisville Center this semester.

He will likely share with new students that as a preacher’s kid he “had absolutely no intention” of following in the footsteps of his father, the Rev. Thurman Eaton, pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Taylor County.

Eaton got his Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Administration from Campbellsville University and headed into management at UPS. He said that he didn’t wrestle with the call in the belly of the whale as Jonah did, rather in the belly of a brown UPS delivery truck. He says that Al Hardy, dean of Academic Support, was like a second father to him as he worked through the decision to go to on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He recently completed his doctorate at Fuller Seminary.

He and Julie have two children, Andrew and Laura. Andrew is a student pastor at Hillview Heights Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Ky. Laura is a pre-pharmacy student at Western Kentucky University. She accompanied her parents to the anniversary service at the lake church with her fiancé Tom Cannon.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with over 3,000 students offering 45 undergraduate programs, 16 master’s degrees and five postgraduate areas. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.

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