Many OSU alumni have memories of the Westminster Foundation during their time at OSU. This organization raised funds and supported ministry with college students for much of the 20th century. Drawing their fundingfrom local churches, the synod and private donors, they provided fellowship, theological dialogue,missionopportunities and pastorial care for students. Similar foundations existed and still exist at campuses around the country. At some point in the early to mid 60's, the OSU Westminster Foundation lost steam and ceased being an effective collegiate ministry at OSU.
Sensing a need to fill the void, the Synod of the Covenant PCUSA and the Ohio Conference of the United Church of Christ joined forces to create the United Christian Center in 1966. Ecumenism proved fruitful for a time, but this approach to ministry eventually failed to resonate with students. Dwindling support and student involvement coupled with the escalating cost of maintaining an older building resulted in the Board of the United Christian Center voting to dissolve the Center in 2003. Proceeds from the sale of the building and the assets of the United Christian Center were divided between the Synod and the UCC according to the terms of the 1996 agreement which created the Center.
Recognizing the need for a PCUSA presence on campus, Worthington Presbyterian called an Associate for Campus Ministry. Liz Hakken served for 5 years, creating an organization funded by Worthington Presbyterian, Synod of the New Covenant, Scioto Valley Presbytery and other grants. When she left to take another call in 2008, Worthington's Associate Pastor for Mission, Jon Hauerwas, took over the responsibilities of running campus ministry. Jon built relationships with staff from other churches, Karen Ware Jackson at Covenant Presbyterian among others and reached out to other churches within Presbytery.
In the spring of 2010, Covenant, Indianola, Overbrook and Worthington Presbyterian Churches formed the Presbyterian Campus Ministry @ OSU Coalition. With two representatives from each church and Rev. Jackson serving as chair, the coalition sought to support the Presbyterian student organization at OSU. Working with the student leaders, coalition members sustained the Thursday Night Bible Study which as the core of the program for many years. However, the coalition was unable to provide the contact time, consistency and support needed to maintain a Presbyterian presence on campus.
Through our experience and conversations with students and campus ministry consultants, two things became clear: 1) We needed a campus minister to reestablish and maintain a nurturing and challenging ministry on the OSU campus; 2) We needed to draw in more stakeholders to build the ministry now and support it for years to come.
Dan Turis, a candidate seeking call in the Presbytery of Scioto Valley and a Senior at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary with 10 years of campus ministry experience - 3 of them at OSU - was hired in a very part time role as campus ministry associate in August of 2011. His passion, creativity, intelligence and experience are already beginning to show fruit with increased participation in the Thursday Bible Study, increased student interaction, and a discernment and prayer trip to Scotland planned for Spring Break 2012.
After years of transition, Presbyterian Campus Ministry at OSU is emerging as a new and revitalized presence on the OSU campus. God is moving. We're following. Join us!
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:19