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Elkhorn Baptist Association (KY)
Circular Letter, 1888
On the Importance of our Two Institutions at Georgetown
and the Necessity of Enlarged Endowment.
BY Wm. M. Pratt

I know of no subject, that at present, has stronger claims upon your attention than that of this circular.

Parents should regard the intellectual, moral and religious culture of their children, to fit them for success and usefulness in this life and for the possession of eternal glory in the world to come, as the most sacred duty the Lord has imposed upon them. These two institutions were established by our fathers to aid them and us in this all important matter. These institutions have been officered by good, learned, and religious teachers, and the vigilance and attention of parents is required of them to return their pupils to their several homes improved in all these respects. With what success this work has been accomplished is witnessed by the fact that in every one of our churches are to be found those whose intellects have been trained and whose hearts have been won to Christ while at the College or Seminary. If we, as a District Association, have reason to glory in any denominational interest, it is that we have two such institutions within our bounds.

      I submit a few considerations that should interest the members of our churches.

      First - We should patronize our own denominational schools of learning. Young people are very much influenced in their religious views and moral principles, by their teachers and associates in school. Parents sometimes allow themselves to be influenced, by special inducements, to place their children under instruction contrary to their own religious faith, and they see their mistake when it is past remedy. Moreover we should consider that the success of our denominational schools depends mainly upon denominational patronage.

      Second - The spirit of our age demands increased facilities in every branch of education. The leading colleges of our land have received, in the last few years, large gifts and legacies. This has enabled them to offer increased advantages and facilities for mental culture to aspiring students, and this class of students are tending more and more toward such institutions regardless of distance or cost.

      Third - Our College at Georgetown is in absolute need of a large increase of its endowment fund to meet the wants of our students and to command the respect of an intelligent community. The salary of our President and Professors are inadequate - no higher than forty years ago and not half as much as are given to professors in the Theological Seminary at Louisville. When a chair is vacated by resignation [sic] or death, we cannot fill it with one of high order of talent and experience with the meager salary we are only able to give without diminishing our present endowment fund, which the Trustees of the College are committed not to do. They do not propose to diminish but to increase our present endowment. A pressing need is a fire-proof library room for the safety of what books we have and to utilize the present library room for recitations and other purposes, as the College is straitened in this respect. Moreover their is urgent demand for an increase of books in the Library. We have had very little increase in this respect since the presidency of Dr. Malcom, 40 years ago. The professors and the students should have access to the best books on the subjects of instruction, of history, and of literature, that intelligent men desire to consult and read. We should have a special library fund, the interest of which should be devoted to the purchase of new books just as they come from a teeming press. A similar fund is greatly needed for renewing and extending the Scientific and Philosophical apparatus. We pray God to put it into the hearts of some of our brothers or sisters to donate a few thousand dollars to these two funds. The interest of such a fund would yearly increase the library and apparatus to illustrate the sciences.

      Fourth - There is an opportunity afforded to us, this present year, to place our College on a strong financial basis, such as we have not had hitherto, and may not have for years to come. You have already been advised that a very wealthy brother, of another State, has promised to give a liberal donation to the College, if Kentucky Baptists will contribute one hundred thousand dollars. Many denominational colleges in the North and South and the Theological Seminary at Louisville have shared largely in this brother's benefactions, and now while his mind is turned to us and he stands ready to help us, if we will help ourselves, how can we be indifferent to the time and opportunity. Brethren, my heart sinks within me in the manifest indifference about this matter. Prompt and liberal action in this enterprise will tell on the welfare and prosperity of our Zion through coming ages. Indifference will make us blush with self reproach when we get to heaven.

      This College was founded by pious and intelligent Baptists nearly sixty years ago, not only for general educational purposes but particularly for the education of our Christian young men who have the ministry of the Gospel in view. A large number of our most talented and useful ministers have been educated in this College. This last year a good proportion was of this class. Six of the twelve graduates were young ministers of brains, culture and piety. The duty is laid upon us by the Head of the church to afford this class of young men the best preparation for their high and holy calling. Each generation of Baptists of Kentucky should raise this College higher and higher. The first generation, under Giddings, did remarkably well. The second, under Dr. Campbell, did better than the first, and should this generation leave the College in statu quo, and merely glory in the past and hope for the future and do nothing ourselves? Brethren what is our work here on earth? Is it to accumulate, "eat drink and be merry" and leave our accumulations to be enjoyed and perhaps squandered by our heirs. Jesus Christ, our great exemplar, lived on earth to do the will of God and to benefit the generation then living and future generations, through the cycles of time and eternity. To imitate him is the test of one's religion. We appeal to your sense of accountability

p. 24
to God upon this and all other enterprises of Christianity. May we hear, in the judgment, the approbation of our Lord and Master. "well done thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

      To those who are anxious that their daughters shall enjoy like advantage their sons do in scholastic education, we will assure them that they do already at Georgetown. Under the present arrangement of things and by express authority of the Board of Trustees of the College, the young ladies of Georgetown Female Seminary have direct access to such of the College classes that they may desire or are prepared to enter. The friends of education were wise in locating the two institutions in the same place. There is no organic connection between them. They occupy different ground and are under separate management; but the Seminary is only five minutes walk from the College, and it has been found entirely practical and convenient for the young ladies of the Seminary to attend the College classes and get the benefit of College instruction.

      It has not been found necessary to make any change in the College classes. The young ladies simply drop into such of the classes as they desire, attend the lecture or recitation, and return immediately to their rooms at the Seminary. This has been sufficiently tried to convince everyone who has observed its working, that the plan is feasible, that it is not obnoxious to objections against co-education, and yet it gives the young ladies the benefit of the superior instruction and equipment of the College. Under this state of case, separate endowments are not needed for two institutions like these at Georgetown. The enlarged endowment of the College secures to your daughters equal advantages with your sons. We pray you to seriously consider this matter and act accordingly and quickly.


[From Elkhorn Baptist Association Minutes, 1888, pp. 22-24; via SBTS Archives digital documents. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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