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CU: Hopkins delivers opening chapel address

By Gerard Flanagan

Campbellsville, KY - Conformer or transformer? Dr. Joseph Hopkins, who has been the 12th president of Campbellsville University since Feb. 1, said each of us faces the choice to be a conformer or transformer in the first chapel address of the fall semester on Aug. 24. It also marked his first address as president of Campbellsville University. Hopkins encouraged everyone to become a transformer.

Hopkins began by reading from Deuteronomy 6:5, which tells us to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

"Very simple verse, but not a simple verse to carry out," Hopkins said. "Before we leave this verse, I want to make a point. With all your heart, we get that. With all your soul, we get that. And then with all your strength. What kind of strength?"

Jesus Christ quotes that verse when the Pharisees asked him what the greatest commandment is. His response is found in Matthew 22:37: "Jesus replied: '"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."'

"Notice the different word: the mind," Hopkins said. "Jesus Christ helps us to look inside the word strength just a little bit."

During his address, Hopkins introduced members of the Campbellsville University family who spoke about the ways they are making a transformative impact.

Dr. Twyla Hernandez, professor of Christian Missions and chair of the faculty forum, recently led a group of students on a mission trip to the United States-Mexico border.

"We have an interest in seeing people, who are made in the image of God, helped," Hernandez said. "Our students gained a reality that goes beyond what you see on the news to learn about the heart of God we find at the border."

Hopkins asked Hernandez why she chose to include students on the trip.

"Students are the most important people here," she said. "We want everything that happens at Campbellsville to be important to students. It allows our students to see a new reality, something they haven't seen, but also find camaraderie and the heart of God across the world."

Hopkins next introduced Lee Miracle, women's wrestling head coach, to the stage.

Since Miracle took over as coach in 2013, the women's wrestling team has won five national championships and 14 individual wrestlers who have national championships in various events.

"It's a long road," Miracle, who has twice been named the National Wrestling Coaches' Association NAIA Women's Coach of the Year, said. "You have to have faith, even though you can't see the end, that you can get there.

"That's the biggest thing, is faith and then believing in other people around you."

Consistent discipline played a large role in the teams' success, Miracle said.

"It's what got us there," he said. "God was a huge part as well. We've been blessed with an excellent group overall."

Hopkins introduced Germaine Dunn, a May graduate of Campbellsville University, whom Hopkins met at First Baptist Church in Campbellsville.

"He said, 'I'm one of your students,'" Hopkins said. "I looked at him and said, 'OK, this guy isn't as old as me, but he's not the typical student story. There's going to be something behind this. So I told him, 'Tell me your story.'"

Dunn told Hopkins, at one time, he was a drug addict and homeless.

"He began to tell me how things transformed from that moment," Hopkins said.

Dunn said his friends and support system talked him into checking into the Isaiah House, a drug treatment facility in Willisburg, Ky.

"Once I went to rehab, I got this crazy idea at 44, 45 years old to come to Campbellsville University," Dunn said. "The faculty really were patient with me in a way I really hadn't experienced enough of.

"I'd call them on weekends and weekdays and leave messages and send emails, and I never got the impression it bothered them. They helped me become the person I am today."

Hopkins asked Dunn where he found peace while being homeless.

"That was a very dark time for me," Dunn said. "I felt alone. I didn't see all this at all. I didn't know how I was going to get out of that situation. I felt like the world had given up on me. There were times I would steal clothes and wear something decent looking.

"I would go into these art galleries and hang out there because they were one of the few places I felt like myself, so that led me to want to do this."

These days, Dunn still works for the Isaiah House and does graphic design work for organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Hopkins said Hernandez, Miracle and Dunn are examples of transformers, and he read Romans 12:2: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

"My question to you is very simple: Will you be conformed or be transformed during this time at Campbellsville University?" Hopkins said. "To be transformer, it means, on the other side of this moment, you will make a difference. You will be a champion."

"Here at Campbellsville University, you're part of the tradition. The greatest tradition I've encountered is this place, where people become transformers. Continue the tradition."

This story was posted on 2022-09-10 09:16:14
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Hopkins delivers opening chapel address

2022-09-10 - Campbellsville, KY - Photo by Alexandria D. Dalton.
Dr. Joseph Hopkins, president of Campbellsville University, third from left, told everyone to continue Campbellsville University's tradition of being transformers. Along with Hopkins are, from left, Dr. Twyla Hernandez, Dr. Donna Hedgepath and Dr. Tony Cunha.

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