A Monumental Witness to God’s Faithfulness

More than 19,000 students. Two universities. The same historic location.

    Baylor and Mary Hardin-Baylor universities came together for the rededication of the columns at Old Baylor in Independence, Texas. The two schools share a history paved by Texas Baptists that unites the schools even today. Katelyn Holm/The Bells

Baylor and Mary Hardin-Baylor universities came together for the rededication of the columns at Old Baylor in Independence, Texas. The two schools share a history paved by Texas Baptists that unites the schools even today. Katelyn Holm/The Bells

As the columns at Old Baylor Park stretched up into the sky on a perfect day in early autumn, guests of Baylor and Mary Hardin-Baylor universities took their seats in Independence, Texas. With a

promising breeze and the sun shining on Academy Hill, the two schools had the privilege of gathering for a rededication service Sunday, Oct. 6.

Each school selected a number of guests from the student body, as well as faculty, staff and members of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Presidents of both colleges were present and spoke, as did Dr. David Hardage, executive director of the BGCT.

Before the ceremony, Hardage had preached in the historic First Baptist Church at Independence.

He explained the reason for the event. In May of 2012, the ownership of Old Baylor park was given to the two universities, which wanted to rededicate the columns and highlight their importance in history.

Hardage described the key role the original Baylor and Baylor Female College, which later became the separate universities of today, played in the history of the Republic of Texas.

“It was the Texas Baptists … that fought for religious liberty…. You are the result of that vision from years ago,” he said.

Dr. Thelma Cooper is part of the original President Dr. John Hill Luther’s family. To begin the service at Old Baylor Park, she spoke with genuine appreciation for the occasion.

With the trees framing the iconic image of the four pillars on top of the archway, those in attendance were reminded of God’s goodness.

“We look back with gratitude to those who paved the way before us…. We are grateful to the two institutions fathered here today,” she said.

168 years ago, Judge R.E.B. Baylor and Rev. William M. Tryon’s charter for a new Christian education system in the Republic of Texas was approved. Each speaker at the event emphasized how influential this piece of history became.

UMHB President Dr. Randy O’Rear spoke about the ways God has blessed the Crusader side of history.

“Independence is the birthplace of these two great universities, and today we pause for a moment to recognize and celebrate God’s faithfulness to both Baylor University and the University of Mary Hardin- Baylor,” he said. Baylor University President

Judge Ken Starr also took the podium to address Baylor’s success as a place of higher learning.

“People are the important thing…. Isn’t that why we are all here—the students,” he said.

UMHB Student Foundation passed out collectible coins bearing the image of the columns and each university’s name, along with “1845.”

Guests also enjoyed green and gold cookies for Baylor and purple and gold cookies for UMHB with the same date piped on them in icing.

Dr. Leroy Kemp gave the final reflection. As a professor in UMHB’s College of Christian Studies, he reiterated how influential each school has been, not only for the gospel, but for education and renown across the country.

He said, “I don’t know how you feel, but I feel as if this is holy ground … a sacred place. Those who come after us can be inspired by what they read, hear and see of this place…. Baylor’s name will never die.”

Author: Katelyn Holm

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