Baptist Collegiate Ministry at FSU
By Diana M. Bastidas
Baptism, a tradition widely adopted by most of Christian sects, is known to be “the rite of initiation” into the Christian faith. This is a key sacrament practiced and accepted by the majority, if not all, of Christians. Baptist Christianity is a mid-17th century denomination of Christianity. The first Baptist churches in the U.S. were established in 1639. The English Baptists believed in the baptism of mature adult followers rather than infant ones. They believed that adults will be consciously able to make the decision and accept their baptism. This denomination originated with acts believed to be radical by the Church of England. John Smyth who was a minister of the Church of England baptized himself, his reformer Thomas Helwys and others from the congregation. Afterwards, they fled to Holland after being persecuted for having different beliefs than the norm which at that time and region was the Church of England. This group of people were convinced that the Bible was the only guide in matters regarding faith and practice as well as that the church should only include believers and therefore, be governed by believers.
By the 1640’s these two influential men parted ways causing the two separate theological divisions of Baptist Christianity. These two sects came to be known as the Calvinist or the Generalists and the Particular. The significant difference between these two groups is who they reserve redemption for. For the Calvinist (Generalists), it was all of humanity, while on the other hand, for the Particular, it was just one “particular” portion of humanity. The Baptists were generally persecuted throughout the 17th century for refusing to be members and a part of the Church of England and believing that only Christ was considered the Head of the Church. Despite of this, the religion managed to spread and grow during and after the “revival movement” that took place as the Great Awakening from 1740 to 1743. Although the religion came from England and later spread to the Netherlands, many members fled to the North American colonies in order to escape the harsh persecution present in Europe. Once Baptist missions arose in the 19th century, the religion dispersed into all of the world’s continents. However, this religion was claimed to be positioned to become the largest American Protestant denomination due to their grand appeal to the African American population. Thus, by the mid-1950’s approximately two-thirds of African American Christians were Baptist. Today, Baptist Christianity is most prevalent in the south mid-western and south eastern states of North America. (See map illustration the prevalence of the Baptist Christian denomination in the U.S.) According to the World Council of Churches, there is also a significant amount of Baptist Christian communities in the countries of India, Myanmar, Brazil, Nigeria, Great Britain, Romania and as well as the Ukraine.
The Baptist Collegiate Ministry or better known as the BCM was first welcomed onto FSU’s campus in 1925. It was founded by the organization of the Florida Baptist Convention whose headquarters are located in Jacksonville, FL. The current BCM building on the corner of S. Woodward Ave. and W. Jefferson St., with the address of 200 S. Woodward Ave, Tallahassee, FL 32304, was constructed in the late 1970s. The original building of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry was located where the Modern Fine Arts Annex is now located on the corner of W. Call St. and N. Copeland St. It is funded by Southern Baptist Churches within the state of Florida. The goal of the BCM, a registered student organization, as stated by Dr. Beauchamp, the director of the BCM, is to connect students to different churches in the state. Although some of the members of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry do attend Baptist Churches, there are also others who do not. The funds received are a percentage of a church’s offerings that are voluntarily determined by them to go towards the cooperative program (CP). From there, a percentage of the funds in the CP are given towards student ministries, this includes the FSU Baptist Collegiate Ministry.
An important part of the governance of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry is their constitution. It is comprised of ten articles that brings to attention rules and laws to abide by. These laws regard the amendments, publications, finances, advisor, officer and duties, offices, membership, objectives and purpose of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry.
Two of the connections of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry are First Baptist and Thomasville Road Baptist Church who have full time college ministers. The Baptist Collegiate Ministry represents all Baptist Churches as a mission on campus to connect students to a local Baptist Church. The connections made with non-religious institutions are made by trying to get students involved on campus. A few of these ways would be by holding discussions on how to change the perception of Christianity from a judgmental and hypocritical stance, co-sponsoring events with non-Christian groups such as sororities and fraternities in the FSU homecoming parade, serving free late-night pancakes during mid-term and final exams week to religious and non-religious students and holding $1 monthly Baptist Collegiate Ministry themed lunches that are open to all. Signficiant and influential people that are a part of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry today include Dr. Lance Beauchamp, the director and the campus minister of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Chris Craighead, the associate director of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, and Pam Knight, the ministry assistant.
The famous "Garnet and Gold guys" originated at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry. These students are an important asset of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry. The tradition started in 1998 at a football game against Duke where a couple of Baptist Collegiate Ministry members, Kevin Fulmer and Josh White, painted and covered their whole bodies in garnet and the other in gold in order to illustrate the amount of Seminole spirit and love they had for football. They received such a positive response from the crowd that year that it has become an annual tradition of FSU and the Baptist Collegiate Ministry to have a couple of guys chosen from the Baptist Collegiate Ministry to perform the Garnet & Gold Guys while attending FSU events, especially the football games. The current Garnet and Gold Guys are Sam Wilburn (Garnet) and Tiebout McCrea (Gold). The successors are always students chosen from the Baptist Collegiate Ministry. The BCM website is http://www.fsubcm.org.
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