Baylor, BGCT Sign Cooperative Agreement Renewing Vision for Baptist Student Ministries
- Baylor Baptist Student Ministries Director Charley Ramsey led students and leaders from Baylor and the BGCT in prayer following the signing of a cooperative agreement for a renewed vision of BSM as a chartered student-led organization on campus. (Robert Rogers/Baylor University)
- (L to R) BGCT Executive Director David Hardage and Baylor Vice President for Student Life Kevin Jackson sign a cooperative agreement for a renewed vision of Baptist Student Ministries as a chartered student organization on campus. (Robert Rogers/Baylor University)
- (L to R) Kevin Jackson, Ph.D., vice president for student life at Baylor; Burt L. Burleson, D.Min., University chaplain and dean of spiritual life and missions; David Hardage, D.Min., BGCT executive director; and Bruce McGowan, BGCT Collegiate Ministry Team director. (Robert Rogers/Baylor University)
WACO, Texas (Sept. 20, 2018) – For nearly 100 years, Baptist Student Ministries has worked to equip college students across the country to follow Christ and transform the world. On Wednesday, Baylor University and the Baptist General Convention of Texas signed a cooperative agreement for a renewed vision of Baptist Student Ministries (BSM) as a chartered student organization on campus.
After reading Scripture from Psalm 133 – “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” – Baylor representatives Kevin P. Jackson, Ph.D., vice president for student life, and Burt L. Burleson, D.Min., University chaplain and dean of spiritual life and missions, joined BGCT Executive Director David Hardage, D.Min., and Collegiate Ministry Team Director Bruce McGowan at the Bobo Spiritual Life Center to sign and offer prayer over the agreement. Baylor BSM has offices in the Bobo and its students meet there for most BSM activities.
“Denominational heritage, connections and involvement are one of the keys to a vibrant Christian university,” Burleson said. “Baylor and Texas Baptists have been invested in one another for a long time and both have thrived because of that. As we move further into what many consider a ‘post denominational’ era, our relationships and partnerships with the BGCT are all the more important. I’m thankful for the rich history of student ministry we’ve known together and for this new affirmation of the work will do in the years to come.”
In the last two decades, Baptist Student Ministries at Baylor and other Baptist universities in Texas served students through a more integrated model at their universities. At Baylor, BSM was related to and considered as a department in Student Life, which led to some important ministry on campus, Burleson said. Recently, BSM and BGCT leadership and Baylor discerned it was time to move to a more traditional campus ministry model that is centered in a chartered student religious organization.
As one of the signers and speakers at the ceremony, Hardage expressed his gratitude to Baylor leadership “for their wonderful willingness and eagerness to re-envision and help us reinvigorate Baptist Student Ministries on this campus.”
Baptist Student Ministries is a cooperative ministry of Texas Baptist churches that encourages students to follow Christ and transform the world. On 110 campuses across Texas, BSM is a student-led organization that provides opportunities for spiritual growth, making friends, leadership, service and missions. BSM includes big events with hundreds of people to small groups and one-on-one mentoring, so students can find a place that is right for them.
“We believe in Christian higher education and have from the very beginning,” Hardage said. “We also believe in the spiritual movement of God on the campus of these (Texas Baptist) universities, and that’s what we hope, believe and pray for regarding Baylor and BSM here in the days, weeks, months and years to come.”
At Baylor, BSM’s mission is to equip Christian men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating catalytic discipleship and vocational excellence within a dynamic community. BSM engages Baylor students during its regular Thursday night meetings at the Bobo Spiritual Life Center, as well as additional opportunities throughout the week for prayer, Bible study and missions.
“BSM has a special place in the history and character of Baylor University, and the agreement signed today marks the beginning of a new chapter in our shared ministry,” said Charles Ramsey, B.A. (University Scholar) ’97, M.A. (Religion) ’00, Ph.D., director of BSM at Baylor.
“It is a timely recommitment to the centrality of the Gospel in the founding vision of the University, and an affirmation of our joint mission to equip Christian men and women for worldwide leadership and service. It signifies that Baylor has strong ties to its Baptist heritage, and that BSM will continue to take a central role in strengthening this partnership by equipping students to make a difference in the lives of those they will lead and serve,” he said.
For almost a century, BSM – or as it was known in its earlier existence as Baptist Student Union or BSU – has played a significant role in the spiritual formation of Baylor students. It has served as a foundational experience for students as they lived their life based on God’s plans and purposes, not their own, Jackson said.
The foundation for a national vision of campus ministry that eventually became Baptist Student Union was laid at Baylor on Oct. 21, 1905, when six students formed a prayer covenant after attending a student YMCA meeting. Fifteen years later, Joseph P. Boone, one of the participants at that meeting, became the first full-time Baptist student worker in the South as Baptist Student Secretary of the BGCT, according to Baptist historian H. Leon McBeth.
In addition, many of the activities and traditions found at Baylor today find their roots with the BSU, including Welcome Week, which started in 1979 as a ministry of the BSU, the Baylor Religious Hour choir, Missions Emphasis Week and Spring Revival Week.
“At Baylor, we want to not only inform the mind, we want to inform the heart and the soul. That’s an exciting journey for us, and praise be to God that we are not on it alone,” Jackson said. “We have many, many good partners, and we have one particularly good partner today in the BGCT. We are so excited about the work that we’ve been doing, especially around Baptist Student Ministries. It is with great energy and enthusiasm that we gather today, and we look forward to a renewed relationship for the BGCT, BSM and Baylor University and a future where the vital nature of BSM on this campus will continue to grow.”
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.