Saturday, June 24, 2006

Campus Ministers: Moderate Baptist Leaders

When I encountered three friends talking with each other as I strolled the halls of the Georgia World Congress Center during the CBF General Assembly, I suddenly realized that all three of these folks had been campus ministers at one point and are now pursuing other roles in moderate Baptist life.

Over the next two days, I started keeping a mental list of folks that I met and talked with who had been campus ministers/BSU directors/collegiate ministers at one point and are now part of the moderate Baptist movement. I am not talking about simply former participants in Baptist collegiate ministry, but those who had served as leaders. Some made the leap several years ago and found new places of service. There is the person who is now a leading Baptist journalist, another who is a pastor, another who is a pastoral counselor, and several who are working for state and regional CBF organizations. Some others are still in transition, seeking new places of service, obtaining additional training. There were several friends with whom I talked who are still serving in collegiate ministry, usually through a church, but a couple working on campuses for state conventions that are not dominated by fundamentalism (or fear of same).

In some ways, this made me a bit sad, maybe nostalgic. I loved working with college students (I could write several paragraphs about former students I saw at the meeting), but circumstances forced me to choose to pursue another form of ministry. But I still have something in common with all these folks--those still in campus ministy and those who have moved on--I believe that the college/university campus is a place where important decisions are being made by people seeking to know and respond to God's leadership in their lives. I believe that God works in a very special way in the lives of all individuals who seek to follow Him--men and women, young and old, the weak and the strong. I believe in a liberal God who gives His love liberally to all. That's why I was out of step with those whose view of God is more restricted in terms of love and grace. My friends in campus ministy--both past and present--believe the same thing. That's why we were at the CBF General Assembly.

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