CLARKSVILLE — Before the fall semester started at Austin Peay State University here last year, the leadership team of Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) was more concerned about being servants on campus than winning awards.
But when all was said and done, they did both.
The Tennessee Baptist Convention-sponsored Baptist Collegiate Ministries was recently honored on campus as “Student Organization of the Year.” In addition, the BCM received the “Outstanding Community Service” award.
Being tapped as the top organization on campus is no small accomplishment, according to Stacy Murphree, BCM director at Austin Peay. “It typically does not go to a ministry organization,” she said.
Murphree noted that she read a book last summer about church ministry and the question was asked, “If the church/ministry ceased to exist, would anybody notice?” She posed that same question to the BCM leaders on the Austin Peay campus. “If, for some reason, the BCM program at Austin Peay ceased to exist, would it be missed?”
With that question in mind, BCM leaders made a conscious decision to impact their campus in 2014.
“We made an effort to work with different organizations on campus and to be out on the campus more,” said Haley Cowley, BCM president and a member of Living Hope Baptist Church in Clarksville.
One example where the BCM chose to serve was during homecoming on campus last fall.
Traditionally, the BCM had constructed a float for homecoming and had competed with other organizations on campus.
“As a leadership team, we decided it was more important to serve than to win,” Cowley said.
So instead of building a float, the BCM found people they could minister to. BCM members delivered food to people on campus who had to work longer hours due to the homecoming festivities such as campus security and individuals in other departments. BCM members also helped other organizations with their floats.
Talor Park, BCM vice president and also a member of Living Hope Baptist, agreed.
Upon hearing that the BCM had received the honor, Park said that she thought “of the little things that we did to be an encouragement, especially during homecoming.
“We didn’t have to do a huge event to show the campus we’re here. It was the little things that showed Christ’s love,” she noted.
Murphree noted that when she began serving as BCM director five years ago she thought the best way to witness was to participate. “I have since realized that homecoming is designed more for the social organizations. We decided we wanted to find ways to serve them, not compete with them.”
The BCM also is ministering to athletic teams on campus.
The athletes are very busy and it is hard to get them involved, Murphree observed. Each year the BCM tries to provide a meal for each team on campus and to provide “goodie bags” which include a Bible to the athletes, she noted.
In addition to being intentional in reaching out to students, the BCM has also tried to reach out to faculty and staff members on campus, including a Christian faculty and staff organization at APSU.
“They have been involved in some things that we have done,” Murphree said.
BCM members are active not only on campus but in the community as well. They regularly conduct a “Kids Club” at Summit Heights Community Center. They not only do fun activities with the children, but lead a Bible study as well for them. The BCM also participates in local food drives and, working through churches, holds a weekly luncheon from which proceeds go toward missions trips.
For the meals, churches provide and serve the food. “We have a good relationship with our churches,” Murphree stressed.
In addition to the “little” things the BCM does, they sponsor two major events which enables them to work hand-in-hand with other organizations on campus.
The Red Bus Tour brought attention to orphan care worldwide while the Stand for Freedom event highlighted sex trafficking.
“Even students who are not believers or are members of non-ministry organizations can get passionate about a cause,” Murphree noted. “They work right along side us on campus,” she said, adding that relationships built can later earn the right to share Christ.
“The BCM is truly deserving of this award this year,” said Victor Felts, director of student life and engagement at Austin Peay.
“They have embraced the concept of giving through their various efforts to support the campus and community. The list of accomplishments is incredibly impressive,” Felts added.
Though the BCM facility is owned by the Tennessee Baptist Convention, Murphree said she does not take for granted that being on campus is a privilege. “We earn the right to be here and to be heard on campus,” she said.
Murphree added that there are so many people on the APSU campus who do not know Christ and are seeking. “I believe in campus ministry and it is so important for us to be here,” she said.
The BCM leaders know of at least five people who have made professions of faith as a result of their ministry this year.
Murphree is appreciative of the Cooperative Program support that the BCM receives.
The honor received by the BCM is a “great example of how Tennessee Baptists across the state are having an impact on a mission field like Austin Peay.
“Our ministry would not be here without the support of Tennessee Baptists,” she added.