Springfield BSC turns 50 with great energy
SPRINGFIELD – It’s been a place of worship, discipleship, teaching and studying, but the Springfield Baptist Student Center (BSC) recently became a place of celebration and remembrance.
More than 120 alumni, friends and current students gathered March 31 and marked the golden anniversary of the BSC, 50 years to the day it became an beacon of light on the campus of what is now Missouri State University (MSU).
Although it is located in a prime spot just across from campus, the BSC also ministers to students at Drury University, Ozarks Technical Community College and several other area institutions.
The program featured testimonies from several Springfield BSC alumni and leaders, as well as MSU President Michael Nietzel. Russell Newport, who sang at the 1957 ceremony (and later went on to be featured on The Ed Sullivan Show), brought the musical program.
Dave Bennet, who served as associate director of the BSC for six years during the 1970s, said he thrived on discipling and mentoring the students at the BSC.
“Personally I grew a lot here,” he said. “I loved interaction with students who were so open and so ready to do things for God. I was able to help train those students and I loved it. I am grateful to this BSC for developing me as a minister.”
As the student ministry director for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), Matt Kearns supervises the collegiate ministries in the state.
“Places like this are designed to influence,” Kearns said to the crowd into the basement meeting area. “That’s why we’re here today. This place was dedicated 50 years ago and we’re rededicating it today, but it doesn’t change people. It’s bricks and mortar. It’s just concrete and carpet. It’s God who changes people. This is a place where relationships are made and God changes people.”
Nietzel used his time to speak to the positive role religion plays in university life, even at a public institution like MSU.
“On behalf of the university, I would like to extend my congratulations and also my thanks for the Baptist Student Center’s presence on campus,” he said.
Several BSC directors and staff have taught classes in the religion department over the years. The BSC and 24 other religious organizations maintain a high profile on campus.
“The law prohibits a confessional study of religion, but encourages the academic study,” Nietzel said. Missouri State has the oldest religious studies program of any public institution is the state and offers a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the subject.
Despite being a public university, Nietzel said he still sees the influence of the BSC and other organizations on campus.
“I see a lot of spiritual desire and maturation on campus,” he said. “You have meant a great deal to the spiritual grounding and growth of generations of Missouri State students.”