Students, DR join forces for campus outreach

by Lonnie Wilkey & David Dawson/Baptist and Reflector , posted Friday, September 22, 2017 (26 days ago)

JOHNSON CITY (BP) -- In the nearly three years Jonathan Chapman has served as Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) director at East Tennessee State University he has worked hard to gain credibility among administration and staff.

A disaster relief assembly line prepares bags filled with hot dogs, chips, and cookies for students arriving for a new semester at East Tennessee State University. ETSU's Baptist Campus ministry partnered with Baptist disaster relief volunteers for the event.
 
Shortly after he arrived, he learned that some people even thought the BCM had closed. One administrator said "we didn't know you were still around," Chapman recalled.

Since that day the BCM "has been pouring" itself into the campus, Chapman said.

The freshmen "move-in" day at ETSU in August, he hopes, has possibly helped cement the BCM's reputation and presence on campus.

BCM members not only assisted freshmen and their parents who moved them into their dorms, the BCM joined hands with disaster relief volunteers to provide a free meal.

Chapman noted the BCM helped move students into dorms last year, but this was the first time they have been able to get permission to have volunteers from churches actually on campus to serve.

He pitched the idea to Jim Ramey, disaster relief director for Sullivan Baptist Association, who agreed to help. Ramey used it as a training event for volunteers while the BCM used it as an opportunity for a positive witness on campus. "It was a win-win situation," Chapman said.

East Tennessee State University's Baptist Campus Ministry and local Baptist disaster relief volunteers joined to help students move in to dorms for a new semester at ETSU.
 
The Sullivan DR team not only provided the volunteers, they also absorbed a large portion of the cost, along with the Holston Baptist Association Disaster Relief.

Ramey said they thought about the idea last year but it takes a lot of planning to pull off a feeding event. "When you plan and pray it falls into place," he said.

Fourteen volunteers from Sullivan Association joined the effort with help from other local volunteers and BCM students. They fed nearly 1,500 people.

"We are excited to (be a part of this) and excited to help grow this mission," Ramey said, adding that they hope it becomes an annual event.

Both Chapman and Ramey were pleased that the event had approval from all levels, beginning with ETSU president Brian Noland who came by and met the volunteers. "He (Noland) said he really appreciated us serving the campus," Chapman said.

BCM student Jamie Wilson, a sophomore from Livingston, noted that she thought the event "gives [the BCM and volunteers] a chance to show people that we love them."

"And from that, maybe they will be interested in seeing what the BCM is about," Wilson said.

Wilson, who attends First Baptist Church, Livingston, said she first came in contact with the BCM during her freshman orientation last year, and has continued to be active with the group.

She, like the other BCM volunteers, spent that morning carrying furniture, TVs, and other items into dorm rooms to help the incoming freshmen and their families get acclimated.

Shannon Pardue of Cleveland was a parent who was very appreciative of the unexpected help.

"It was great to see the BCM volunteers here to help," said Pardue, who was helping to move her son Jared into a dormitory. "We appreciated it very much."

Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (www.baptistandreflector.org), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. David Dawson is a communications specialist with the TBMB.
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