Flourishing campus ministry offers fellowship and more

Posted on September 30, 2016

RUF leaders, past and present: from left, Chaplain Paul Patrick, current RUF interns Alden and Taylor Groves, and former interns Zack Keuthen, Ellie Keuthen, and Cam Smith

RUF leaders, past and present: from left, Chaplain Paul Patrick, current RUF interns Alden and Taylor Groves, and former interns Zack Keuthan, Elly Keuthan, and Cam Smith

A key component of campus ministry at Erskine is Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), led by the institution’s longtime chaplain Paul Patrick and husband-and-wife RUF interns Alden and Taylor Groves.

Along with the Student Christian Association (SCA) and a number of faith-focused groups, including Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM) and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), RUF gives attention to students’ spiritual needs. RUF events, some ongoing and others occasional, include Bible studies, small group meetings, and Sunday night supper and worship at ‘the Barn’ on the Patricks’ property.

Alden Grove and his wife Taylor each lead a small group Bible study, he with freshman men, and she with freshman women. They also spend a lot of time with students—“taking students to coffee, lunch…going to the gym, playing chess, running”—and offer sympathy and encouragement. The round of RUF activities continues all semester, punctuated by each week’s Sunday night at the Barn, in which Patrick leads a study. Then there are the occasional events.

One recent RUF event was a fall retreat at Camp Greystone in Tuxedo, North Carolina. Four talks by former RUF minister Daniel Mason (now a church planter in Durham, N.C.) as well as worship, student-led small groups, fellowship, and fun, were all part of the weekend.

Freshman Mary Ramsey Conner of Greenville described the topic of the retreat and offered a quote from the speaker. “The theme of this year’s conference was love and how we can share the Gospel by just being students and loving others on campus,” she said, adding that the speaker told students, “If we understand the welcoming heart of God in our brokenness we will not fear inviting others.”

Senior Jordan Joseph of Forsyth, Ga., commented on the speaker’s approach to a common theme, saying he took a subject that “can become generic” and “took it in a new direction” for the students.

“He emphasized that we love others in no way to earn our rightness before God, but we love others because we know the depths of despair in which we have been and we know glory in the powerful Christ who pulled us out of our sorrow,” she said.

Alden Groves said Mason focused on a different aspect of love in each of his talks: loving your neighbor, loving through hospitality, loving with your vocation, and loving the poor.

“I talked with various students about what they learned and it seemed that the sessions on loving neighbors and loving with vocation were the two that stood out to most people,” he said.

Groves also stressed the importance of “the time the students get to spend together” during a weekend retreat. “Several of the students have told us that they loved getting to know their fellow ‘Erskinites’ better and loved growing in faith with these new friends.”

Jordan Joseph, vice president of SCA and a leader on the RUF praise team, confirms the importance of growing in faith with friends. “I am surrounded by fellow Christian musicians, rock climbers, golfers, intellectuals, and movie lovers,” she said.

“Having a community of college aged believers who understand my struggles and triumphs encourages me to be honest about where I am in life and to trust Christ in all circumstances.”

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Erskine students at Camp Greystone with intern Taylor Groves (front row, left), Chaplain Paul Patrick (second row, right) and intern Alden Groves (third row, left)

The next big event sponsored by RUF at Erskine is the Barbecue and Hymn Sing set for Nov. 6. This year, barbecue cooked by Paul Patrick will be featured, and the music team will include Will Milks (an Erskine graduate who serves as resident director in Grier Hall and music assistant to the chaplain) and Dr. David Conley (an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Music who has been coordinating chapel music with the chaplain).

Meanwhile, this Sunday evening, Oct. 2, there will be a barbecue supper and worship at the Barn from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

For more information about RUF, or if you need a ride to the Barn, please contact Paul Patrick:

  paul.patrick@ruf.org

Check out the website at www.erskine.ruf.org for announcements and photos.