Howard Payne Thoughts!

This week I had the privilege and responsibility to attend the Board of Trustees meeting of Howard Payne University in Brownwood. I wanted to take a moment to reflect upon life in a small Baptist school in the heart of Texas.


Excitement hangs in the air around this small campus community of slightly more than 1000 resident students as they celebrate the first National championship in the history of the school. The Lady Jackets basketball team made history in Holland, Michigan as they soundly defeated Messiah College to capture the championship by a score of 68-54. The Lady Jackets were led to victory by National Division III player of the year Meia Daniels and two unsung senior leaders Kimberly Hoffman and Stacey Blalock. The Lady Jackets finished the season as the only NCAA team in the nation with an undefeated record at 33-0! Coach Chris Kielsmeier captured the essence of Lady Jacket basketball and the spirit of Howard Payne when he said, “I coach truly great people, not just great players!” This is a proud moment for collegiate athletics because a team of non-scholarship athletes competed valiantly together and won. Needless to say everyone associated with Howard Payne is holding their “stingers” just a bit higher because of the “perfect swarm”.

Cost Cutting

The celebration was tempered by the harsh realities of trying to higher Christian education on a shoe string budget. Howard Payne suffers like many small conservative schools around the nation with the battle of trying to stay above water. While many schools are thriving and expanding, Howard Payne continues to provide quality Christian education at great sacrifice by its facility and administration. Once again the staff will not receive a raise because the money is simply not there.

Howard Payne University works in cooperation with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. As many of my readers know the BGCT too has had its financial woes that has hurts it ability to support the mission of its colleges and universities. Once again the financial support of the BGCT had to be reduced. The reduction was minimal but was still felt. One lesson I have learned is the small financial role the BGCT actually plays in the life of its school. Only 5% of the HPU budget comes from the BGCT. There was a day when the BGCT did more. I pray as the BGCT gets back on track that we will be able to give more each year rather than less. The education of the next generation of Baptist leaders is a critical mission we cannot abandon.

A “Currie” Moment

David Currie, leader of the Texas Baptist Committed, and I had the opportunity to sit side by side at the board meeting. In the course of the day, Currie commented to me about comments that I have made about wanting a seat at the table. He noted that I was at the table with him and that my wife Robyn was now on the Worldconnex board. I must acknowledge things are changing and for this I am grateful. I believe good days of dialogue and cooperation are ahead in the days ahead.

Over the past twelve months, David Currie and I have had a number of frank and open conversations and communiqués. I have found David to be forthright and direct. I have found him to be passionate and committed to the health and vitality of the BGCT as much as any person I know. David and I do not always see things eye to eye, but I have found him to be someone willing to listen and to share his perspective. Much like an airplane needs both wings to fly, I believe the BGCT needs its moderate and conservative leaders to work together to get our mission airborne. David and I have committed ourselves to keep talking and to keep looking for ways to work together. I pray you will join us in this effort.



Filed under BGCT

7 responses to “Howard Payne Thoughts!

  1. Clarence Fothergill

    As a staff member at Howard Payne I would like to say thank you for the hard work you and other board members have done to make the accomplishments you wrote about possible. This is a great time to be at HPU, not just because of the national championship, but because of the opportunity to ‘Make a Difference’ in the lives of those who will be our leaders in years to come. Thanks again for all you and the board do for Howard Payne.

  2. David, thanks for this report on HPU. I consider my service on one of our Baptist university boards as a great privilege. As I recently stated on my blog, Baptist higher education in Texas is a well kept secret. Too many of our finest youth are scared off by what they think is prohibitive cost. Actually, with the exception of Baylor, the total cost for a year at a Baptist school in Texas is very much on a par with most state schools, and better than some of them. But people do not know that.

    I also appreciated your comment about David Currie. He does love the BGCT. He has been a tremendous force for good. I respect him very much, while there are still things we will not agree on. I believe he is willing to talk.

  3. Lee

    Congratulations to HPU! Wow, an undefeated season and national championship. That’s a great accomplishment. The NAIA is exciting and much more down to earth than the NCAA, and without full ride scholarships and big time recruiting, an accomplishment such as this is a really big deal.

    I well remember the excitement on campus as a student at Grand Canyon University when our men’s basketball team won the NAIA title in 1975, and I was a yell leader when we won it again in 1978. Half our student body (about 600 out of 1,200 students) made the trip for the last three days of the tournament.

    I attended Grand Canyon, from 1975 to 1979, almost completely on scholarships and grants and with very little out of my own pocket. The total cost of education was less than $10,000 for the four years, for me, less than $1,000 out of pocket. I think we need to do all we can to keep Baptist colleges affordable for Baptist students.

  4. “Much like an airplane needs both wings to fly, I believe the BGCT needs its moderate and conservative leaders to work together to get our mission airborne”

    With very few exceptions, every “moderate” I know is a hard leaning conservative. It is a shame that the extremists have co-opted the word conservative. I think you do a disservice in writing something that portrays a “Texas Moderate” as anything but “Conservative.” Yes, there are exceptions; but very few. To give the extremists the legitimacy of being conservative is troubling. Not everyone that partners with the SBC is an extremist, but every one of the power hitters definitely fit the description.


  5. Tim,

    Thanks for your perspective. I agree that a Texas Moderate by most theological standards would be considered a conservative. I guess the spirit behind what I was trying to say is simply this: if we are going to soar it will take all of us working together.

    I appreciate your perspective on this matter.


  6. Words have meanings, big guy. 😉

    They matter. Ideas are strong and powerful. Labels leave imprints beyond that of our momentary use.

    I remember being at MDACC, with some Baptists that others would label as liberal. In the midst of the conversation a real liberal walked in. She was a UCC minister/chaplain. She laughed at our conversation and said that we were all fundamentalists. This made us laugh, because it was so true. No matter how moderate/liberal we might seem to the far-right extremists (the Patterson-Pressler crowd), the truth is that we are all far-right conservatives compared to the real liberals out there. We just don’t know what they look like, because so few of them really live in Texas.


  7. Tim,

    Thanks for the story. Your experience does put into perspective that our divisions within the Baptist family are too often over non-essentials.

    I am surprised with myself for forgetting the role of labels. I know in some circles I was called a fundamentalist with a capital F. We do need to be careful in what we say and write.

    Have a good week.


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