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Campbellsville University's School of Theology took 36 students, faculty, family, friends or CU alumni to Israel and Jordan on a Holy Land tour.
The tour gave travelers an opportunity to experience "the fifth gospel" on March 1-11.
Their tour began in Jordan, where travelers were able to see the famous biblical sites from the Old and New Testament, including the tomb of Moses, the Dead Sea and the site where John the Baptist was beheaded. The rest of the trip was spent in Israel, where travelers got to experience other famous biblical sites like the Sea of Galilee, the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed, the tomb where he was buried and some of the known paths he walked.
Dr. Scott Wigginton, professor of pastoral ministries and counseling, organized the trip. He was accompanied by Dr. John Hurtgen, dean of the School of Theology; Dr. Shane Garrison, assistant professor of educational ministries; Dr. Ted Taylor, director of the Big Maroon Club and former professor in the School of Theology, and Ed Pavy, director of campus ministries. They, along with Brad Lauer, discipleship pastor at Campbellsville Baptist Church, led devotionals at some of the major sites and stops.
Others travelers on the trip from Campbellsville were Matthew Feather, Sheri Taylor, Pam Hurtgen, Peter Hurtgen, Steve Arnold and David Wray of Campbellsville.
After visiting Jordan, they crossed into Israel through the Bethany River, where Jesus is said to have been baptized by John the Baptist. Here, seven travelers were also baptized in the same spot. Taylor helped Garrison baptize his father, Danny.
"I was there with my biological father, my spiritual father and in the presence of my Holy Father," Garrison said.
The two also baptized Marissa Rehmet and Dalton and Shelby Hicks. Other baptisms included Tommy Ramey, Brad Lowe and Aron Neal.
At the site of the tomb in Jerusalem where Jesus is said to have been buried, CU Baptist Campus Ministry president Noah Blackburn and president-elect Joey Bomia led their peers, professors and fellow travelers in a worship service and communion.
When they returned to Campbellsville, several travelers spoke of their favorite experiences on Wednesday, March 26, at CU's weekly chapel service.
Aron Neal said one of his most challenging but rewarding moments was hiking up a mountain in Masada, Israel.
"It was hard getting up there, but that's how life is sometimes. Sometimes it's hard, but at the end it's worth it when you're standing in the presence of God," Neal said.
Another student, Mary Kate Young, said her most memorable moments came from one of the last days of the trip, when she was able to perform an impromptu hymn for her fellow travelers at the site where Peter is believed to have preached at Pentecost.
"I sang 'How Great Thou Art,' and was able to worship the same God in Israel that I do here in Campbellsville. As a music student, it was a surreal experience that I'll never forget," Young said.
This is the third trip the School of Theology has taken, and the second one to Israel. In past trips, they traveled to Greece and Turkey to follow the path of Paul.
In 2016, they are planning a trip to Italy and Germany for a look at several historical churches and sites relating to the Protestant Reformation.