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Cover: University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Inside this issue:
Reformed University Fellowship, now on 48 campuses, is teaching thousands of students a biblical world-and-life view and preparing them to become tomorrow’s church leaders.

MNA:  Reaching North America with the Gospel...
to Reach the World

Spring 2000


Spreading the Gospel on Campus
and Equipping Future Church Leaders

"We’re reaching between eight and nine thousand students every week on 48 campuses," says Rod Mays, coor-dinator of MNA’s Reformed University Ministries, "and we’re going to new campuses every year."

Last year, Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), as the ministry is known on campus, achieved record growth by establishing its presence in seven additional locations. "This year," Rod points out, "we expect to start RUF on at least that many, including the Universities of Virginia, Maryland, Nebraska, Arizona, Emory University in Atlanta, North Carolina State, and possibly several others.

"This expansion is good news for the church because every RUF stresses the church’s importance," Rod explains. "These students step out of their caps and gowns and step right into the local church – many of them to fill leadership roles."

Pastor of three PCA churches over 25 years prior to accepting his MNA position last year, Rod found it tough to leave the pastorate. "But I have a deep concern for the condition of our society and I think that campus ministry is a key to transforming the culture."

While one of the primary reasons for founding Reformed University Ministries was to serve and nurture PCA covenant children, students from many other denominations, as well as the unchurched, also become involved. Approximately a third of RUF participants are from PCA households.

RUF differs from most other campus ministries in its emphasis on Scriptural teaching and also in its leadership. All are led by seminary-trained, ordained ministers who are well equipped to teach the biblical world-and-life view that is at the heart of every RUF.

Hundreds of young men and women have met the Lord through these campus ministries, or else developed a deeper understanding of how to live the Christian life. Ask students what RUF has meant to them and they frequently say it has provided their first understanding of grace. Take Casey Coleman, for instance, currently an RUF intern at the University of Memphis, who spent her undergraduate days at Mississippi State and was led to receive Christ in 1995 by RUF campus minister Brian Habig. "I grew up in the church, but never had an understanding of God’s grace until I joined RUF."

Memphis is a commuter school where students are more concerned with their jobs than campus activities, so it’s not easy to make contact with them in the usual way or round them up for RUF meetings. "A lot of my time," says Casey, "is spent stopping by to see students on the job, just to visit for a few minutes." Casey’s responsibilities include working with the women in RUF – leading Bible studies and counseling.

The current campus minister at Memphis is Harris Green, who is filling in until May and will then return to his seminary studies. The RUF was started five years ago by Les Newsom who became campus minister at Ole Miss (U of MS) in 1999.

While RUF is represented in 18 states, it is particularly strong in areas where the PCA has a solid foothold, such as throughout the Bible belt. On these campuses, attendance at weekly large-group meetings typically numbers in the hundreds. One example is the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Planted nine years ago, the Knoxville RUF has about 220 students at large-group meetings. Like every other RUF, its primary goal is to reach students with the Gospel and equip them to reach out to fellow classmates.

Another typical Bible belt RUF is Vanderbilt in Nashville where Stuart Latimer is campus minister. Working with him on staff is Paige Benton who oversees the women’s ministry. Weekly large-group meetings have attracted as many as 400 students.

But for all the strength of RUF in the South, several ministries have made rewarding progress in locations where the PCA is not strong, such as at Harvard, the University of Washington, and New York University.

The largest private university in the nation, NYU is scattered across Manhattan, though a number of buildings are concentrated in Greenwich Village.

This RUF has close ties with The Village Church (PCA) in Greenwich Village and students participate in its ministry to men, women, and children suffering with AIDS. They show mercy in several ways, which includes preparing and delivering meals.

On the West Coast, RUF at the University of Washington in Seattle began in 1998 and is led by Ed Dunnington. "We’re encouraged by the turn-out," Ed points out, "we see new faces every week, and the students from last year are still here." None of them have PCA backgrounds and Ed believes that several have received Christ since joining RUF.

Whatever the location, along with in-depth Bible teaching, music plays a vital part in group meetings. For the most part, students sing the old hymns, but often compose new scores with syncopated rhythm. Kevin Twit, campus minister at Belmont University in Nashville, graduated from the Berklee School of Music in Boston before going on to seminary. When you consider his musical background, the strong emphasis on music at Belmont (about half the people in RUF are music majors), as well as the rich musical resources in Nashville, you can imagine the quality of the musical performances at RUF-Belmont.

"These students love tradition and when they understand the Gospel, they find that the hymns of the past best express God’s Truth," says Kevin.

Auburn RUF campus minister Steve Malone also has a strong commitment to music and finds that "hymns that have been sung for centuries are still stirring the hearts of students because of their poetry and depth in communicating the life of faith."

Tom and his students produced a CD of their music this year, and so has RUF at Belmont and NYU. The CDs may be ordered on the Web at the following sites:

http://www.Auburn.edu/ruf.htm

http://ruf.homepage.com/

Weigel@hotmail.com


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Last October, about 250 RUF students from campuses throughout Tennessee attended the annual retreat at Fall Creek Falls, near Nashville, for fellowship and inspiration.

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John Stone, campus minister at UT-Knoxville, describes RUF students as particularly interested in showing God’s mercy in the inner city. "Once a week, we help out in a downtown soup kitchen which serves the poor and homeless. Every other year, during spring break, I take a group to work with inner-city missions in a major city."

 

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The retreat attracted a large number of students from RUF at UT-Knoxville (pictured here), which is one of the most active in the nation.

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Weekly large-group Bible studies are conducted on all campuses and so are small-group studies for the purpose of teaching a biblical world-and-life view.

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Paige Benton oversees women’s ministry for RUF at Vanderbilt and has seen dramatic spiritual growth among the students. "It’s wonderful to see them change and mature," she says. "At the start of the 1999 school year, we decided to expand our core leadership group because we found that so many participating in RUF have leadership potential."

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Leading the singing at an NYU large-group meeting are Beaux Edmondson (left) and Emily Crow, two of several PCA students involved with NYU-RUF. Meetings are held at an Anglican church at 10th and Broadway.


The scattered urban campus at NYU and the students it attracts create a unique challenge for campus minister Tom Cannon and intern, John Sweet. Nevertheless, Tom says, "God is doing a great work in New York City."

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NYU enrolls 45,000 students who, according to Tom Cannon (right), "tend to be high achievers who live a frenetic lifestyle." Into his third year at RUF as a campus minister, he’s pleased with the progress. "We’ve had conversions and also seen tremendous spiritual growth among students who were already believers. Many are seriously studying the Bible for the first time."

 

 

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THE VITAL CHURCH

The second annual PCA Convocation on Revival and Reformation, held last fall, met again at Trinity Presbyterian in Jackson, MS, organized by Mike Ross, Trinity’s pastor. The theme, "Reforming the Local Church," brought pastors from across the nation to study about reforming all aspects of church life and the inner life. "The pastors especially appreciate getting away to share and pray with fellow clergy, and asked that we devote more time to prayer next year," Mike explained.

Speakers included these pastors: Ligon Duncan, First Presbyterian, Jackson, MS; Derek Thomas, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson; Carl Kalberkamp, Pear Orchard Presbyterian, Ridgeland, MS; and Mark Dever, Capitol Hill Baptist, Washington, DC; as well as Mike Ross and Archie Parrish, MNA church vitality coordinator.

 

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The theme for the 2000 convocation, set for Oct. 31 - Nov. 2, is "The Five Solas of the Reformation." James Boyce of Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia will be keynote speaker. Contact Trinity Presbyterian or Archie Parrish at MNA for a brochure. aparrish@pcanet.org

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SHOWING GOD'S MERCY

 

Award winners.jpg (26328 bytes)Pictured are seven of the eleven Women in the Church (WIC) leaders who received MNA Urban & Mercy Awards last fall. The awards were allocated by MNA from the 1998 WIC Love Gift. Clockwise from lower left are: Paige Overton Pitts, Yvonne Dodd Sawyer, Jennifer Mahaffey, Joyce Horton, Pat Wheeler, Barbara Cole, Penny Freeman. Award recipients not pictured are Mariam Bell, Barbara Horn, Amy Sherman, Susan Tibbels.

Each received a $1000 grant to give to a mercy ministry of her choosing. For example, Joyce Horton donated her award to Beginning Again in Christ, a ministry headed by a former inmate which helps prisoners find jobs, housing, etc., upon their release. The organization is associated with Central Prison Ministries, Jackson, MS, which Joyce serves as a volunteer.

ccda.jpg (23059 bytes)At last fall’s Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) Conference, with around 150 attending, the PCA had the largest denominational representation, according to Yvonne Dodd Sawyer, a CCDA board member. "That’s because we make a concerted effort to promote PCA attendance, and we’re proud that the number grows every year." A total of 4,000 participated in the five-day 1999 meeting which consisted of workshops and speakers designed to help urban ministry workers become more effective. This fall’s CCDA Conference will be held in New York, NY. For a brochure, contact CCDA at 773-762-0994 or http://www.CCDA.org

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The Seeds of a Church Planting Movement

How is planting a church like a campus ministry? According to Jeffrey Lancaster, both require a constant "beating of the bushes, reaching out to people, drawing them in." Jeffrey should know. He led Reformed University Fellowship for seven years at Ole Miss, one of the most successful in the US, and he’s now in New Orleans laying the foundation for a new PCA church in the center city area.

Jeffrey and his family moved to this Louisiana city of 1.5 million last June and began making contacts. "My heart was drawn to church planting, especially urban church planting," he explains.

He hopes to reach urban professionals, as well as people from the art community and the universities. New Orleans has several, including Loyola, Xavier, Tulane, and the University of New Orleans, among others. The movement he envisions includes RUF.

The new church is patterned after other PCA urban church plants, such as Redeemer in New York City. Describing his philosophy of what a church should be, Jeffrey quotes Dick Kaufmann who served as associate pastor of Redeemer in NYC until last year when he moved to San Diego to launch an urban church there. Kaufmann said, "Don’t ask what kind of church we should plant; ask what kind of city Christ wants this to be."

A number of RUF campus ministers have gone on to plant churches since campus ministry provides excellent experience for starting a church – not only because it teaches you how to "beat the bushes" for contacts, but also because campus ministers must know how to apply the Scriptures in day-to-day living and bring the Gospel to those without church backgrounds.

Says Jeffrey, "My goal is to reach unchurched, unsaved people with the Gospel and see startling conversions. New Orleans has a strong religious heritage, but it is vastly untouched in terms of evangelical Christianity."


Jeffrey rents office space on Magazine Street amid six miles of coffee shops, restaurants, and antique dealerships. He hopes to start a movement that will spawn other churches as well as ministries concerned with mercy and social justice. "We need a strong, well established church to generate a city-wide movement."

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Jeffrey (left) with good friend Mo Leverett, pastor of Desire Street Fellowship Mission in New Orleans.

 

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Report: MNA Evangelism Convocation

Last October, MNA called together an Evangelism Convocation at Briarwood Presbyterian in Birmingham, AL, and received an excellent response. Alan Wallace, ruling elder at Young Meadows Presbyterian in Montgomery, AL, said, "The convocation gave me a fresh understanding of Jesus’ command to make disciples and impressed me of my responsibility to help carry out the Great Commission."

Another ruling elder, James Osborn, who came from Christ Presbyterian in Tulsa, OK, said, "I attended with other lay leaders from our church as well as our pastor and associate pastor. We came away with a new passion for evangelism and really excited about some different ways to do ministry."

The three-day convocation consisted of stimulating workshops and inspiring messages brought by well-known Christian leaders: Bryan Chapell, Ligon Duncan, D. James Kennedy, Tim Keller, and Paul Kooistra. Jim Bland, MNA coordinator, planned the meeting and said, "It was a tremendous encouragement to lay leaders, pastors, and every other Christian who took part…we were challenged to renew our commitment to keep the Gospel of our Lord central, not only to our mission, but also to our lives." Tapes of the convocation are available. Request an order form from Briarwood Presbyterian: 205-978-2200 or mna@pcanet.org

 

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Gospel in Uniform

Chaplain Philio offered the benediction at a French/American Veteran’s Day ceremony, an annual event which honors US airmen who died in France during World War II. "French people love Americans, despite reports to the contrary," Shannon explains. "French veterans often tell stories of American heroics."

Serving in France: During the final four months of 1999, USAF Chaplain Shannon Philio served at Istres Air Base on the southern coast of France, the location of Operation Joint Forge which provides aerial reconnaissance and air fueling support for NATO in the Balkans and Bosnia. On one occasion, Shannon preached in a church in Aix en Provence which had once received a letter from John Calvin encouraging the brethren to remain faithful. Day-to-day, however, his duties ranged from preaching on base, leading Bible studies, and counseling, to organizing USO shows, raising money for local charities, and building a chaplain’s Web page.

Shannon’s deployment ran through Thanksgiving and Christmas, an especially difficult time for airmen to be away from home and family. "Words of encouragement from a chaplain and a listening ear help them get through," Shannon says and cites Proverbs 15:30: ‘A cheerful look brings joy to the heart and good news gives health to the bones.’

"The chaplaincy provides a golden opportunity to shine the ‘Light of the World’ in some of the world’s darkest areas and to reach men and women who may never have heard the Gospel or even entered a church."

 

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Deduct Now...Distribute Later

Are you in the position to make a charitable contribution now – but want to decide later which Christian ministries you wish to benefit? Through a Mission to North America Advise and Consult Fund agreement, you can make your gift of cash, stocks, or other property when you want or need to – possibly eliminating capital gains tax or reducing income tax – then advise at a later date those Christian ministries that you would like to see benefit from your gift. It all adds up to sound stewardship of God’s property.

MNA ADVISE AND CONSULT FUND
c/o Presbyterian Church in America Foundation, Inc.
404-320-3303 • 888-256-5571
Email: PCAF@pcanet.org

The MNA Advise and Consult Fund is a component fund of the PCA Foundation.

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