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University to honor Baldridges with Service to Appalachia Award

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The Rev. Lawrence and Martha Baldridge

(March 4, 2015)– Carson-Newman University’s Appalachian Cultural Center has announced the Rev. Lawrence and Martha Baldridge as recipients of the 26th Annual Outstanding Educational Service to Appalachia Award.

Sponsored by the University’s Appalachian Cultural Center, the honor will be presented to the couple Tuesday, March 17, during a special 7:30 p.m. event in the Appalachian Cultural Center on campus. The event is free and open to the public.

“Rev. and Mrs. Baldridge’s lifetime of service to the people of Pippa Passes and to Appalachia is inspiring,” said Dr. Jennifer Hall, director of the University’s Appalachian Cultural Center. “Whether serving in the capacity of minister, teacher, poet, nutritionist, or environmental steward, the Baldridges teach us to celebrate Appalachia's strength, wisdom, sense of community and true beauty. The Appalachian Cultural Center is honored to recognize their servant leadership and their love for the people and land of Appalachia.”

Lawrence and Martha were appointed Southern Baptist home missionaries to Pippa Passes, Kentucky in 1974. Under their leadership, they brought a Headstart Program to Pippa Passes on two different occasions, and they also started a Senior Citizens Nutrition Program in the basement of Caney Baptist Church, where Lawrence has served as pastor since 1964. Martha served as primary cook/dietician for the program, which served the needs of the elderly for 15 years.

The couple has been involved with the North American Mission Board for more than 30 years, and this mission work has also taken them to Brazil, Mexico and Romania.

A native of Garrett, Kentucky, Lawrence has been a servant-leader in his community, Lawrence helped establish a community Kiwanis Club, Head Start Program, Senior Citizens Program and the first Baptist Student Union at Alice Lloyd College. Warning about the dangers of strip mining and mountain top removal, he was also an early advocate for environmental preservation and stewardship of the Appalachian landscape, hills and mountains.

A respected educator and poet, Lawrence also coordinates summer activities for Baptist and Leader Trek groups who donate their time to construct and repair area housing and church facilities and to provide summer programs for youth.

Lawrence’s awards and recognitions include Outstanding Young Man of America, Knott County Hall of Fame inductee, Kentucky Colonel, the Kentucky River Area Development District Leadership Award, and Alice Lloyd College's 2011 Alumnus of the Year.

Martha Baldridge was born in Jaguaquara, Brazil, a daughter of Southern Baptist missionaries. Along with a lifetime of service work with her husband, she is the primary pianist for Caney Baptist Church, where she also teaches Sunday school and gives piano lessons. She has served as a 4H leader, teaching such skills as cooking and sewing, and as a substitute teacher. Most recently, she retired from her position as head dietician at a local nursing home.

The couple has three children, three grandchildren, and one great-grandson.

Throughout its history, Carson-Newman’s Award for Outstanding Educational Service to Appalachia has recognized outstanding individuals for their contributions to the region. Past honorees include: 2014 recipient Bill May, Jim Claborn, John Rice Irwin, Bill Landry, Helen Lewis, Jeff Daniel Marion, Lee Smith, James Still and Wilma Dykeman Stokely.

Carson-Newman University is a private, Christian liberal arts institution. Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. The University has over 2,300 students and offers 50 undergraduate majors, as well as bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.

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