Tony Campolo, conservative Christian preacher and influential social activist, has announced his intent to retire from the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education (EAPE) in June after nearly 40 years of impacting the lives of at-risk youth in the U.S. and abroad.
"Next month I will be 79 years old, and this decision will allow me to retire gracefully as president of EAPE," Campolo shared with supporters in a newsletter this week. "After June 30, 2014, I will go on preaching and teaching from my base at Eastern University. The president of Eastern, Dr. Robert Duffett, has agreed to provide me with the assistance and office space I need to continue the work that I believe God has called me to do."
He added, "Sometimes Christian organizations become self-perpetuating and continue long after they have fulfilled their mission. Not so with us! I, along with the EAPE board, believe in accord with Scripture that 'for everything there is a season,' and that the season has arrived for EAPE to come to an end."
Campolo, who gave counsel to President Bill Clinton in the late 90s in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, has encouraged supporters instead to turn their attention to the several independent nonprofits the EAPE has helped founded, including his latest effort, Red Letter Christians, with whom he will continue working.
According to its website, the EAPE "has developed and nurtured elementary and secondary schools, universities, adult and child literacy centers, tutoring programs, orphanages, AIDS hospices, urban youth ministries, summer camps and long-term Christian service programs in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, in various African countries and across Canada and the United States."
Campolo and his son who helped lead the organization, Bart Campolo, have also through the EAPE "traveled the world preaching a gospel that combines personal discipleship and social justice" and witnessed "countless believers" commit themselves to the cause of God's kingdom.
While hanging up his hat with the EAPE, the Baptist minister, social activist and accomplished author will by no means be slowing down, as he reportedly has almost 200 engagements scheduled for this year.
Campolo conducted a lengthy interview with Tulsa World in which he expounded on his reasons for retiring the nonprofit organization and explained why he believes evangelical Christians in the U.S. need to shift their attitudes when it comes to orthodoxy and orthopraxy.
Read the full contents of Campolo's letter on the EAPE's closure:
Almost 40 years ago, we created EAPE with a specific goal in mind: to birth and support missionary enterprises that would meet the spiritual and social needs of people in Third World countries and in urban America. With your help and prayers we succeeded even beyond what we imagined! Today, an array of ministries founded by EAPE is doing just that. Together we have nurtured these organizations to independence, each with its own board of directors and its own funding base. These ministries will continue, but as of June 30, 2014, EAPE, the mother organization that created them or helped sustain them, will cease to be.
Next month I will be 79 years old, and this decision will allow me to retire gracefully as president of EAPE. After June 30, 2014, I will go on preaching and teaching from my base at Eastern University. The president of Eastern, Dr. Robert Duffett, has agreed to provide me with the assistance and office space I need to continue the work that I believe God has called me to do.
Sometimes Christian organizations become self-perpetuating and continue long after they have fulfilled their mission. Not so with us! I, along with the EAPE board, believe in accord with Scripture that "for everything there is a season," and that the season has arrived for EAPE to come to an end.
The ministries you and I have founded and nurtured together will continue to do outstanding work for God and His Kingdom, and the hundreds of men and women whom we have challenged to serve Christ in missionary work around the world will carry on our visions and commitments.
I need your help and your prayers as EAPE and I make this transition. In the past, your gifts have been sent to the EAPE office here in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. We then distributed those precious resources with maximum efficiency to our various ministries as we recognized needs. Now I am asking you to choose the EAPE program that most represents your own heartfelt concerns and interests, and to begin sending your gifts directly to that particular ministry. You may even want to support more than one of them. Here they are, along with websites should you want more information about any of them.
1. Cornerstone Christian Academy – This is an academically-rigorous Christian elementary school for low-income children. This school has various community-outreach programs, including a popular summer camp for neighborhood children, which has made a great impact in Southwest Philadelphia. www.cornerstonephiladelphia.com
2. UrbanPromise– With hundreds of children attending its after-school educational and cultural enrichment programs, its variety of extensive summer camps, leadership training internships, and its schools (k-12 grades), UrbanPromise, in Camden, NJ, has become what many consider one of the foremost inner-city evangelical ministries in America. www.urbanpromiseusa.org
3. UrbanPromise International – Presently UrbanPromise ministries now exist in other cities across North America: Wilmington, DE; Miami, FL; and Trenton, NJ. They also are in other countries: Toronto, ON; Vancouver, BC, in Canada and cities in Malawi, Honduras and Uganda. Plans are being made to expand UrbanPromise into additional cities. www.urbanpromiseinternational.org
4. Mission Year – Founded by EAPE in 1997, Mission Year has offered an amazing opportunity for hundreds of young adults to live and work together as full-time urban missionaries in inner-city neighborhoods throughout the United States. It has challenged scores of these young people to make missionary service a lifetime vocation. www.missionyear.org
5. Haiti Partners – This ministry grew out of EAPE's early work in Haiti. It now focuses on developing schools, training teachers and community leaders, and promoting Christian discipleship opportunities in some of Haiti's poorest communities and churches. www.haitipartners.org
6. Red Letter Christians – This is EAPE's newest effort. It has become a movement with well over 2 million people around the world logging onto our website and becoming part of an effort to inspire Christians to embrace the radical lifestyle prescribed by Jesus as we find His teachings highlighted in red in many of the Bibles that we use. www.redletterchristians.org
7. Urban Mentors Network – EAPE has been the major funder for this outstanding outreach in Oakland, California, which is training women to be mentors to several hundred teenage girls, discipling and nurturing them into a lifestyle of Christian maturity. www.urbanmentors.com
8. Peace of the City – This program has served inner-city children in Buffalo, New York, with outstanding after-school and summer camp programs. Peace of the City touches the lives of hundreds of inner-city children and teenagers. www.peaceofthecity.org
9. Evangeline Ministries – Each year this ministry, directed by Wendy Ryan, provides between 30 and 40 South African women with their own sewing machines and teaches them how to use those machines to produce dresses and other items of clothing. This enables these women to set up micro businesses to support their families, and also serves as an effective means for evangelism and spiritual development. www.evangelineministries.org
10. Yes! And… – Over the past decade in Philadelphia we have sponsored collaborative arts education and theatre opportunities that bring together urban and suburban children in learning experiences. Not only are these children culturally enriched, but they get to know each other in a loving environment. www.yesandcamp.org
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org that includes your full name and all of your contact information and designates the ministry or ministries you have chosen to support.
Please email us no later than February 14, 2014.
When we learn which ministry you have chosen to receive your gifts, we will contact that ministry and transfer your name and address from our mailing list to that particular ministry. If you have any questions, feel free to call our office and talk with Robert Gauthier or James Warren.
Pray with me that He who has begun a good work in us and through us will continue it until the day of His coming.
Founder and President, EAPE