Truman BSU begins fundraising for ministry center
By Susan Mires
February 22, 2005
KIRKSVILLE — College students have kicked off the capital campaign for a new Baptist Student Union (BSU) ministry center at Truman State University.
At a special service Feb. 1, students were challenged to give to the project, with some signing commitment cards and others making donations. Gene Austin, campus minister for the BSU, said one student had already given $500.
“We’re looking to see what God’s going to do,” Austin said.
Over the next two months, a series of events are planned to raise $650,000 for the new building. Austin said they hope construction can begin in April for the addition that will include a 280-seat auditorium. The BSU has desperately needed more space for some time. The basement meeting room has seating for about 50; attendance at the weekly worship gatherings often exceeds 200.
The BSU has already added a second service and for the last few years, the meetings have been held at a rented banquet hall. Austin said students work from 5 p.m. to midnight setting up and tearing down chairs.
“That’s just a tremendous commitment they make to it,” he said.
Through the “Impact” capital campaign, Truman BSU is reaching out to alumni throughout the United States and has mailed more than 1,100 informational packets. Banquets will be held in Kirksville on Feb. 28, in St. Louis March 6 and Kansas City March 7 to encourage alumni and supporters to contribute to the project.
The building fund began with a $300,000 gift from David and Martha Perkins, who gave after witnessing the impact of the BSU ministry in their daughter’s life. In July, the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board, which owns the land and building, approved a capital campaign to raise an additional $650,000. Austin said they hope to complete the entire project debt free.
In addition to the auditorium, the new building will have a large entryway with a coffeehouse. A broad patio will enhance the building’s curb appeal and take advantage of the location on a busy campus intersection near a new residence hall.
“My hope and prayer is that we’ll just have people come over and hang out and see what we’re doing,” Austin said.
BSU members want to reach out to students and minister to them where they’re at, said Jonathan Waits, a member and a senior majoring in chemistry from Independence.
“The community that exists there is wonderful,” he said.
Waits is planning to go to seminary after graduation and said BSU helped him find his calling. Even though he will not be at Truman to utilize the new facility, Waits is excited about the project.
“It’s cool that it’s going to be such a partnership with the other churches across Missouri,” he said.
Known as “One 10,” the ministry includes the BSU, the worship service called “Fuel” and Damascus Road, an outreach ministry. About 275 different individuals are involved in the ministries each week.
The Truman BSU was also blessed recently with a house that can be used by volunteers serving as interns. This year, there are nine interns.
“We couldn’t do what we do without them,” Austin said.
There are still challenges and prayer needs for the building project. Because the new building will take away parking spaces, the BSU must get a zoning variance from the City of Kirksville. The existing building will be renovated during construction, so there is a need for alternative office and meeting space, especially next fall.
“I’ve got great students and I’m confident they’ll have some great ideas,” Austin said.