Posted by Bill Nunnelley on 2010-05-25

Samford University’s Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence (RCPE) has been named a regional resource center for the Bivocational and Small Church Leadership Network.  The network consists of Baptist ministers who lead congregations located in rural communities in Alabama and across the U.S. 

“Most of the Baptist churches in Alabama have fewer than 125 members,” said Michael K. Wilson, RCPE director.  “The churches in rural communities tend to have only 50 to 100 in attendance on any given Sunday.  These churches simply can’t afford to provide support for a full-time pastor.

“That’s why bivocational ministers are so important.  They earn what they need to live from employment outside the church.  These ministers exhibit unusual commitment and dedication.”

The RCPE already supports these ministers through its Pastoral Enrichment Network (PEN), offered in partnership with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.  PEN groups exist in several rural associations across the state.  They meet regularly for peer support and continuing education. 

The regional center at the RCPE will provide office space, print and media resources related to rural and smaller church ministry, and access to Samford’s extensive print, online, and media resource collections in the Main Library and Beeson Divinity School.  Periodic workshops and seminars where PEN groups meet will also be offered through the center. 

The James E. Davidson Fund for Rural Ministries was created in 2008 by the family of Rudolph Davidson to provide financial support for RCPE programs serving rural and smaller church ministers.  The fund honors the memory of Davidson’s father, who served for omore than 60 years as a pastor in Baptist churches in Alabama, most of which were in rural locations. 

With the addition of Samford’s RCPE, there are now seven Regional Resource Centers around the country.  Other sites are located on the campuses of Baptist College of Florida, Mid-Continent University, Campbellsville University, Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, Union University and William Carey University. 

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.