August 6, 2019
By Lanell Downs Smith
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist
University students across Alabama are enjoying renovated Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM) facilities made possible in part by the sale of the Auburn University BCM building to the city of Auburn.
That deal, approved by messengers to the annual meeting of the Alabama Baptist State Convention (ABSC) in November 2017, will result in a new BCM at Auburn University, said Bobby DuBois, associate executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM).
“The Auburn BCM is being built by the City of Auburn, to our specifications, as part of the sale of our former BCM location,” DuBois said.
The new facility is expected to be completed around Nov. 1, 2020. The City of Auburn is providing temporary space for the BCM in downtown Auburn, not too far from its historic location, for the duration of the construction phase of the project.
Auburn University’s new BCM is part of a project to complete improvements at all 10 of the Baptist campus centers in Alabama.
The $3.1 million project budget was provided by the $1.1 million sale of the Auburn BCM combined with $2 million from SBOM funds designated for future building needs.
Renovations began in 2018 at BCM buildings for University of North Alabama (UNA), University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), University of Alabama, Troy University and University of South Alabama (USA).
Construction at Jacksonville State University (JSU), University of Alabama Birmingham, Auburn University at Montgomery and University of Montevallo BCM buildings was completed in 2019.
Most of the campus centers date back to the 1950s and 1960s, DuBois said. The nine renovated centers received a complete overhaul including exterior facelifts and floor to ceiling interior work with new LED lighting, the replacement of all HVAC systems, the upgrading of kitchen equipment and the upgrading of bathroom facilities.
“The spaces are more inviting to students and are designed to reflect the quality of other facilities on campus,” DuBois said. “These are centers that Alabama Baptists can be proud of. These buildings are where students gather, study, share meals and grow in their faith through their college experience.”
Investing in students
JSU campus minister Gary Brittain said he appreciates what the renovations mean to the 65–75 JSU students who actively participate in discipleship, outreach and evangelism, fellowship and missions through the JSU BCM. His center, built around 1972, received some of the most extensive improvements.
“These renovations show the investment of Alabama Baptists in reaching university students,” he said. “I am grateful to Dr. Lance and Bobby Dubois for their vision and leadership in making this work possible. I am also thankful for the many Alabama Baptist churches who faithfully give through the Cooperative Program to make this ministry possible.”
USA BCM, which serves an average of 200 active students from four local campuses each semester, also received extensive renovations.
“The BCM building serves as a mission point where we raise up collegiate disciples, grow them as disciple makers and mobilize them for mission to the college campus in relationship with our local Baptist churches,” said USA campus minister Jerrod Brown. “The BCM building serves as a place of gathering, training, strategizing and mobilizing.”
According to Brown, the renovations have helped students embrace the BCM as a home away from home.
“One of the most impactful changes was the update of a room that was leaky, musty and seldom used into a small group discipleship and training room,” he said. “We have seen this room be the home base for much of our mission to the campus with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We want students to feel at home in this building and in growing in their faith. Our renovated building has helped us extend hospitality to collegians and to the campus as a whole. Baptist Campus Ministries is grateful for the continued partnership of Alabama Baptists in reaching the college campus with the gospel.”
Collegiate ministries take place on more than 40 Alabama campuses, including community colleges, private colleges and four-year public schools, according to Mike Nuss, director of the SBOM’s office of collegiate and student ministries.
“In the 2018–2019 academic year BCM reached over 43,000 students on campuses across our state,” Nuss said. “Over 260 individuals accepted Christ through Alabama BCM during the past year.”
Nuss noted the generous giving of Alabama Baptists through the Cooperative Program, which provides personnel and BCM facilities to reach students on “one of our state’s critical mission fields.”
“The BCM facilities are tangible evidence of the investment Alabama Baptists have in reaching college students on those campuses.”