CU students, with Zion Baptist District Bible Institute, earn certificates in Christian ministry

CU students, with Zion Baptist District Bible Institute, earn certificates in Christian ministry

Dec. 20, 2015
For Immediate Release



Presenting the three graduates of the Zion Baptist District Bible Institute certificates ministry
were from left: Dr. Donna Hedegepath, vice president for academic affairs; Dr. Joseph L. Owens,
chair of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees; recipients the Rev. Ronnie Turner,
retired pastor; the Rev. James Buford, pastor of Fannie Chapel CME Church; and the Rev.
Michael Caldwell, pastor of Pleasant Union Baptist Church and director of the Zion District
Bible Institute; and Dr. John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and
executive assistant to the president; and Dr. John Hurtgen, dean of the School of Theology.
(Campbellsville University Photo by Joan C. McKinney)



By Joan C. McKinney, news and publications coordinator


CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Campbellsville University and the Zion Baptist District Bible Institute celebrated the achievement of three local pastors as they received their certificates in Christian ministry recently.


The Rev. Michael Caldwell, pastor of Pleasant Union Baptist Church in Campbellsville, who serves as director of the Zion District Bible Institute; the Rev. Ronnie Turner, a retired pastor of Campbellsville, and the Rev. James Buford, pastor of Fannie Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church of Campbellsville, each earned their 27-hour certificate in Christian ministry by taking classes at Jacob Grove Baptist Church in Summersville, Ky.

Dr. Joseph L. Owens, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Lexington, who is entering his fifth term as chair of Campbellsville University’s Board of Trustees, gave words of encouragement to those attending a luncheon in honor of the recipients.

Owens, who is a 1977 graduate of Campbellsville University, said the Zion District was “nurturing and precious” to him as a student when he began pastoring. “Jacob Grove has been my family,” he said.

He told the recipients their certificates are “valuable” to them and they can proudly say they have come this far in their educational pursuit. “I’m so proud of each of you,” he said.

Owens quoted 1 Samuel 7:12 when he told the story of Samuel who took the stone and set it up and called it Ebenezer and the Lord helped them.

  He said the children of Israel learned about advantage, achievement and acknowledgment.

Owens said the graduates had struggled to finish their education but their adversity turned into opportunities. He told them they had to siege their advantages to “soak up and glean everything they could.”

“Turn your adversities into opportunities, and you will achieve,” Owens said.

He told them God is a rock of help, and without Him there is no hope, no salvation and no victory.

Two Zion Baptist Institute professors, Dr. Twyla Hernandez, associate professor of Christian ministries at Campbellsville University, and the Rev. Jerry Smith, pastor of Yuma Baptist Church, congratulated the students.

Hernandez said she made good friends during the class she taught, and the best time in the class was when each gave their personal testimonies.

“It was a blessing to hear how God had worked in their lives and still is,” she said.

Smith said he learned from his students and was encouraged and inspired by them and hopefully taught them pastoral ministries. He has served in the ministry 32 years.

Caldwell gave a history of the Zion District Bible Institute that was organized and funded Jan. 9, 2007. The purpose of the Institute was to provide a continuation of the Simmons Bible College extension of Central Kentucky that was started in 1992 by the Zion District Association and Simmons Bible College.

From 1992 until around 2005, the Bible School depended upon Simmons for its professors and curriculum until Simmons began its college accreditation process which forced them to close all their extension schools.

Campbellsville University agreed to begin classes for the 2008-09 academic year, and the courses have continued with 21 students this past semester.

The late Dr. Walter Johnson was pastor of Jacob Grove Baptist Church and Zion District moderator and served as one of the spearhead leaders for the school in its early beginnings. Dr. David Sandifer was the first instructor for the classes.

For more information about the certificate in ministry program, contact the Campbellsville University School of Theology at (270) 789-5029.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,500 students offering over 80 programs of study including 24 master’s degrees, seven postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is


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