Ruth Kempton: Teacher, Speaker, Mentor

Ruth Kempton: Teacher, Speaker, Mentor

Ruth Kempton was raised in southern Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of West Chester University, the University of Maryland, and Washington Bible College.

She taught for 25 years at the elementary, high school, and college levels and was the first woman principal of a large Christian school in Florida. She also served on the Board of Christian School Accreditation for the State of Florida and was the first woman elected to the Cedarville University Board of Trustees.

Mrs. Kempton has led over 30 evangelical neighborhood Bible studies for women and directed seminars at Word of Life summer camp for 26 years.

With Dr. Kempton, she hosted Bible studies for professional athletes and their wives, as well as ministered to couples involved in business and community vocations. She presently hosts a weekly neighborhood Bible study in her home.

She currently lives in Lititz, PA and continues to travel worldwide.

Read other In the Spotlights here.

Insight Questions

What led you to become a teacher?
I always liked sports in high school but never had a chance to really get involved. During my senior year we moved to Lancaster, PA. My new school had organized physical education classes with a teacher who taught all the girls different sports. I asked her where she went to college because that is what I wanted to do. So, I went West Chester University and took Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. I started teaching in Christian schools in 1973 at Temple Heights Christian School in Tampa, FL.

What led you into ministry?
My first husband, Coach Lee Royer, and I were both school teachers and coaches and were convicted that Christians should teach in Christian schools. That was our particular thought that we received from the Lord.

Where has serving the Lord taken you?
I have traveled to approximately 45 states and 55 countries around the world, including Bangladesh, Thailand, Togo, Brazil, Russia, Australia, Japan, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Israel, Jordan, South Africa, Argentina, Philippines, and Papua New Guinea.

My most recent trip was to Myanmar, formerly Burma, to speak at a memorial service for Dr. Kempton at Faith Baptist College & Seminary and to receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

What are your current involvements?
I teach a neighborhood Bible study, I am a member of four tennis teams, I travel as a speaker to women's conferences, and I visit our family in four different states.

How did you come to know Dr. Kempton?
I first met Dr. Kempton in 1967 on the island at Word of Life. Lee, my first husband, was speaking there and I went along with our children. I didn't attend the meetings because I didn't want to sit there all day with our son, who was very small at the time. Lee knew I wasn't going to the meetings so he told me he wanted me to go to Dr. Kempton's office and tell him why I thought I was saved.

So I went to his office and since I was a member of the Episcopal Church at the time I recited to him all the creeds and the beatitudes and said I believed them. He told Lee later that he believed I probably was born again.

The next year when we went back to Word of Life, I really grew to understand what being born again meant.

Years later, we grew to become close friends after his wife, Karolyn, went home to be with Lord. My husband had gone home nine years earlier. Whenever Dr. Kempton was in Tampa we would meet for dinner. He would talk about Karolyn and I would talk about Lee. His trips to Tampa grew more frequent and one day he came to me and said he wanted talk about some things. He told me he loved Karolyn very much, and he knew that I loved Lee, but he said he also loved me and he wanted to get married.

How were you involved in his ministry?
Dr. Kempton was the president of the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. After we were married, I traveled with him all over the world for 25 years. I also assisted him at the Bible studies we had in Cherry Hill, NJ, for the Philadelphia professional athletes.

What part did he play in the development of BBC?
Dr. Kempton was a faculty member when BBC was located in Johnson City, NY.
He was sent as Director of Development to seek out a new location for the growing college and took up residence in Clarks Summit with his Karolyn and their children. He became a teacher, coach, residence hall director, and administrator. Later, when he became president of ABWE, he was elected to the Board of Trustees for BBC. Dr. Kempton has always been a dedicated, interested, and loyal advocate of the institution.

How did he use his enjoyment of athletics to minister?
Dr. Kempton grew up with a very athletic mother and father. He played on the varsity teams in high school and college. He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs but later was convicted that was not God's will for his life. After he became a Christian, he continued his relationship with athletes and put together various athletic witness teams. When he became President of ABWE he was asked to speak at many of the Philadelphia athletic teams' pre-game pep talks. He made this a time when he could talk to the athletes about the Lord. This became the first time the Bible and speakers were introduced into the locker rooms to talk to the players about Christ. He mentored Joe Gibbs, Mike Schmidt, Gary Maddox, Bob Boone, Julius Erving, Bobby Jones, Doug Collins, Greg Luzinski, and many other athletes and coaches. He was also asked to speak at a number of Super Bowls and we had weekly Bible studies in our home for the athletes and their wives.

How do you feel about the new athletic center being named for Dr. Kempton?
I know how much he loved Baptist Bible College. This will make him a permanent part of the campus. I also know he would rather not have that honor. Our family and ABWE are very pleased you are honoring him in this way.

Will your family be at the groundbreaking?
Yes, Dr. Kempton's daughter, Wendy, and her husband, Mark Flannery, BBC graduates, will be there. They are very honored and happy about the occasion.

Contact Information
Contact Ruth Kempton through ABWE at

Learn more about the Kempton Athletic Center here.

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Baptist Bible College & Seminary offers 38 academic programs, from a one-year Bible Certificate to PhDs. Programs are available on the Clarks Summit campus, online, and through several distance-learning options. To learn more, go to or call 570.586.2400.

Posted on: 9/29/2009 1:53:42 PM

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