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Campbell dean appreciates church commitment
Norman Jameson_ь, BR Editor
October 18, 2010
7 MIN READ TIME

Campbell dean appreciates church commitment

Campbell dean appreciates church commitment
Norman Jameson_ь, BR Editor
October 18, 2010

Campbell University Divinity

School’s new dean appreciates the school’s balance of scholarship with its

desire to serve the church practically.

Andy Wakefield was named

dean in July, succeeding Michael Cogdill who returned to the classroom after

helping to get the divinity school started 15 years ago. Wakefield, who found

his trail to teaching through a forest of other possibilities, will continue to

teach at least one class while adding administrative duties because he is

“passionate” about teaching.

He also is enthusiastic

about living and working in the Campbell community because Campbell values his

scholarship and love of teaching and enthusiastically endorses his “love for

the church and a desire to serve the church.”

“I want to be able to serve

a church and that not be seen as a distraction from my job,” Wakefield said

during an interview in his office. “My church involvement is seen as an asset

rather than a detriment.”

Sorting

As a young student sorting

out possibilities for life, Wakefield, 50, never pictured himself as a dean, or

even as a professor because he never saw someone in front of the classroom that

he wanted to be, he said.

He worked three years in the

blossoming world of micro computers before he went to seminary, trying to

discern exactly what God was leading him toward.

On his first day in seminary,

he met a missionary kid on her birthday. Because Olivia was just off the field,

her birthday was included on the Woman’s Missionary Union missionary prayer

calendar. He told her, “With millions of people praying for you today, and you

meet me, that can’t be a coincidence!”

He found a love for

preaching while at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “I remember thinking

to myself what would really be wonderful — the ideal, if I had my wishes —

would be to somehow put these together, where I could teach and also serve the

churches. I didn’t realize until much later that was describing what I have a

Campbell.”

Wakefield earned his

doctorate at Duke University Divinity School and was teaching Greek and New

Testament adjunctively at Campbell when he was asked to join the faculty of the

new divinity school. Campbell’s divinity school found early success, even

as a new school in the midst of much more established seminaries.

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Andy Wakefield wasn’t a basketball fan when he came to North Carolina, but he appreciated the University of North Carolina’s coach being on the faculty. He thought “Dean” Smith was a title.

“Each of us is offering

something slightly different and I think that’s valuable,” Wakefield said. For

instance, he felt lost among Southern’s more than 2,000 students. Community is

easier to find among Campbell Divinity’s 220.

“We have very powerfully

been able to model the body of Christ,” Wakefield said. “Students really plug

into this where they experience a sense of community, of acceptance. And it’s

not based on all having the exact same views. We have students coming from a

wide variety of backgrounds. Twenty-five percent of the student body is not

Baptist; the other 75 percent is different flavors. They are different ages,

post-college to their 70s, and ethnically diverse.” They are all committed to

the school’s ministry statement which is: Christ centered, Bible based

and ministry focused.

That statement is more than

a slogan, Wakefield said. It gives students latitude to hold different

perspectives. They “may not be on the same page” in some things, but they’re in

the same book and a part of the same body of Christ.

“Our students then want to

take this model of being the body of Christ out to the churches and say, ‘OK,

how can we as a church embrace one another with our differences?’”

Wakefield recognizes that

Campbell Divinity and Gardner-Webb Divinity were born from turmoil in the

Southern Baptist Convention, whose six seminaries have been the primary

preparatory schools for Baptist church staff. And although the five

universities affiliated with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

(BSC) are changing their relationship to the BSC, “Campbell still views itself

as partners with the Baptist State Convention and we value that partnership

because this is who we’re serving,” he said.

He said Campbell Divinity

graduates “for the most part” find open doors for service and “find themselves

well equipped for ministry.”

“We are rigorously academic

but we are also rigorously practical and we don’t think those two can’t go hand

in hand,” he said.

Most students are in the

master of divinity program, but Campbell Divinity also offers master in

Christian education, a doctor of ministry degree and several certificate

programs, including Hispanic theological education, childhood ministry and

women in leadership.

Wakefield is a missionary

kid himself, having grown up in the Philippines and Singapore, although he

graduated from high school in Richmond, Va., when his father, Bill, became an

administrator with the International Mission Board. He graduated in philosophy

from Wake Forest University and Southern Seminary and earned his PhD at Duke

Divinity.

He and Olivia have been

married 23 years and have two daughters: Natalie and Allison.

His doctoral thesis and

continuing interest is on the Apostle Paul’s use of scripture in his writing

and on Paul’s view of the law.

Manual hobbies

Maybe unusual for an

academic, but Wakefield’s hobbies are very manual — metal working and wood

working. He says it’s logical to have those interests because “I’m interested

in everything and would like to know a little something about everything.”

He is a part of Baptist

Fellowship of Angier, a four-year-old non-traditional church that focuses on

ministry to young people. Campbell University and Divinity School students are

involved in tutoring Hispanic, black and Anglo children. The church shares an

old funeral home with an Hispanic congregation.

“The thing that keeps

blowing me away is that we are literally a handful of people and we have made

it our focus to basically pour everything we have and do into ministry,”

Wakefield said.

Although Campbell Divinity

trains students primarily for service in traditional churches, “the church is

evolving and we want our students to connect to that and be at the forefront of

leading the church to wherever God takes them,” Wakefield said.

He says the Southern Baptist

Convention is “at the forefront” of that church evolution. It is struggling

through inevitable change, and no one knows what it is going to become.

Wakefield has “a very high

view of scripture” he said. But he has “a very low view of someone who wants to

tell me what scripture says. I’m committed to scripture. That means I have to

read it; I have to wrestle with it; I have to explore it as honestly as I know

how.”

“What I passionately want is

that students have thought it through and they have their own grasp on it,” he

said.

“It is real close to

blasphemy not to force yourself to treat all of scripture as honestly, as

responsibly and as consistently as you know how.”

All the Divinity School’s

faculty are Baptist and Wakefield says the school is intentional about its

identity as Baptist.

“Within that, we embrace diversity,” he said.