BCM, local churches partner for college students

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During the month of August, thousands of students will walk onto sun-drenched and moss covered pathways of Florida’s college campuses for the first time searching for a place to belong. Their footsteps are the first of a journey that will mold and shape their lives for a lifetime.

Through the Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM) students can find these essentials as well as options for spiritual growth, discipleship and opportunities to partner with a local church.

Involvement in BCM can ease the transition of students from high school to college life, said Lance Beauchamp, BCM director at Florida State University.

“It is important for students to find a place where they find others who are like-minded on a college campus and something that keeps them motivated to look beyond themselves,” he said.

Unlike many Christian organizations on campus, Florida’s BCM directors encourage students to get involved in local churches for additional spiritual guidance. They work with local student ministers and pastors to engage students in both locations.

Ricky Lindsey, minister of students at First Baptist Church in Plant City, said one of his goals is to “build a bridge between the church and the campus ministry” of their Tampa-area schools, to “extend beyond our church walls.”

Matt Seitz, college minister at North Central Baptist Church in Gainesville, partners with the University of Florida campus ministry to impact the lives of students in the schools there. “If you are a church in a college town like Gainesville, and are not actively involved in the life of BCM, you are ignoring the real reason God allowed you to be there. Not engaging your campus is bad stewardship. BCM is our outreach arm on campus.”

The Jacksonville BCM collaborates with Jacksonville First Baptist Church to plant Campus Church, a congregation now thriving on the University of North Florida campus. And Christ Fellowship in metropolitan Miami has planted a campus ministry on the Florida International University.

Baptist campus ministries also prepare students for a lifetime of mission service. Each year, hundreds of students will go on mission trips to worldwide mission points during their Christmas, spring or summer breaks. Many will feel God’s voice calling them into full time mission service.

Others like former State Baptist Collegiate President Micah Roden found his involvement at Florida State University’s BCM prepared him to serve God as a disaster relief volunteer while maintaining a professional career.

According to Billy Young, Florida Baptists’ Next Generation ministry catalyst who supervises collegiate ministry, “Mobilizing college students to go on mission helps instill a focus to live on missions long after the brief college years.”

BCM programs exist on 15 Florida college and university campuses. There are BCM directors on state university campuses, employed staff and volunteers throughout the state. Baptist ministry centers are located on six campuses—Gainesville, Tampa, Miami, Pensacola and two in Tallahassee.

“We have an amazing opportunity through our campus ministries to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to close to 90,000 college students,” said Young. “Florida Baptists have a great system in place to help our college students develop a strong foundation in Christ.”

Florida’s collegiate ministry is supported by gifts from Florida Baptist churches through the Cooperative Program.

Below is a listing of BCM directors by area. Contact them to share names of students attending Florida colleges.

Tampa Area – Nathan Schneider, BCM director
813-988-6487 ~ nschneider@flbaptist.org
USF BCM ~ 13109 USF Sycamore Drive ~ Tampa, FL 33620

University of South Florida
Hillsborough Community College
State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota

Lakeland Area – Bruce Sabin, BCM director
863-241-7858 ~ bruce@brucesabin.com

Florida Polytechnic University

Orlando Area – Brad Crawford, BCM director
407-823-5336 ~ bcrawford@flbaptist.org

University of Central Florida
Valencia College

Jacksonville Area – Barry Sproles, BCM director
904-707-6760 ~ bsproles1179@gmail.com

University of North Florida
Jacksonville University
Florida State College

Gainesville Area – Eddie Gilley, BCM director
352-376-4405 ~ egilley@flbaptist.org
UF BCM ~ 1604 West University Avenue ~ Gainesville, FL 32603

University of Florida
Santa Fe College
Lake Sumter State College

Tallahassee Area – Lance Beauchamp, BCM director
850-222-4444 ~ lbeauchamp@flbaptist.org
FSU BCM ~ 200 South Woodward Avenue ~ Tallahassee, FL 32304

Florida State University
Tallahassee Community College
Baptist College of Florida

FAMU, Tallahassee – Joseph Jones, BCM director
850-544-5755 ~ jonesjvjoe@gmail.com

Florida A&M University (FAMU)

UM, Miami Area – Ricky Bailey, BCM director
305-284-6083 ~ rbailey@flbaptist.org
UM BCM ~ 1200 Stanford Drive ~ Coral Gables, FL 33146

University of Miami

FIU, Miami Area – Gus Hernandez, BCM director
786-205-7347 ~ gushernandez@cfmiami.org

Florida International University
Miami Dade College

Pensacola Area – Tony Olesky, BCM director
850-473-7474 ~ tolesky@flbaptist.org
UWF BCM ~ 11000 University Parkway ~ Pensacola, FL 32514

University of West Florida

Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist Convention, Aug. 16, 2016

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