On Saturday, April 17, about 35 people gathered at the new Longhorn Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) building in Austin to dedicate the space to the Lord and celebrate the rich legacy of those who came before. The event was limited to a small number of in-person attendees due to Austin county COVID-19 restrictions and was also live-streamed on the Longhorn BSM Facebook page.
The BSM celebrated their new facilities, the first two floors of a high-rise student apartment building close to The University of Texas campus. The building sits on the site of the former BSM building, whose land was sold to the apartment complex in 2017. With their location now at the heart of student living, the BSM is excited to reach their new student neighbors for Christ. The Longhorn BSM was founded in 1919 and is one of the oldest BSMs in the state.
The sale also provided an endowment fund that will pay for the full operations of the new building and for other BSMs around Texas.
“We celebrate God’s provision in this space where we’ve been doing ministry for 100 years and we get to see the vision and the plan for the next 100 years,” Cody Shouse, director of Longhorn BSM, said as he welcomed attendees to the event.
Attendees included former Longhorn BSM directors, local church pastors, Texas Baptists staff, current and former students and others whose lives had been impacted or who had made an impact there.
A great cloud of witnesses
Mark Jones, director of the Texas Baptists Center for Collegiate Ministry, honored Joyce Ashcraft, associate director of the Center for Collegiate Ministry, and thanked her for her hardwork in orchestrating the new building. He also announced that, after more than 44 years of collegiate ministry service, Ashcraft would be retiring in Summer 2021. Jones presented Ashcraft with a watercolor painting of the mural at the Longhorn BSM, which depicts iconic Austin scenes and the BSM.
Ashcraft honored those that came before to lay the foundations of the BSM, citing Hebrews 12:1-3 as she described “the great cloud of witnesses” who have made the BSM possible.
“While this building is new and contemporary and dedicated to engaging students to reach people around the world, it’s because of the people that came before that we are able to be here today,” she explained.
Ashcraft highlighted Richard “Rick” Spencer, who served with the BSM for 45 years and who passed away in 2017. The prayer room in the new building is dedicated in his honor, and his wife, Vicky, was in attendance at the dedication.
“His love for God’s word he instilled in all the students... He is an example to us and we want all students to know that he was one of the great cloud of witnesses that came before,” Ashcraft said.
The prayer room also features a stained glass window that was saved from the former BSM building and was stored at Woodlawn Baptist Church for two years until it could be installed.
Former director Dan Crawford, who served from 1976-1982, spoke fondly of the old building. He shared that a group of alumni and former BSM staff gathered at the old building the night before the demolition, sharing memories and reminiscing about the past. Most importantly, he expressed that everyone who had been a part of the BSM in the past prayed for a bright future for those who would come after them.
“We, as alumni and former staff, wish for this building to be even more of a blessing for them than it was for us, for years and years to come,” he said.
Speakers also included Marcy Martinez, associate director of Longhorn BSM; Craig Christina, associate executive director of Texas Baptists; Brian Lightsey, lead pastor of Life Church; Daniel Gao, elder at Austin Christian Fellowship; David Kemerling, director of Longhorn BSM 1990-1999; and Russell Allen, lead pastor of Woodlawn Baptist Church.
Prayer for the years to come
Worship was led by BSM students Dominic Barzilla, Sarah Brown and Blaire Hambrick and by David and Miranda Wall.
In addition to the dedication service, attendees also prayer-walked the building, asking God to raise up students of faith. Shouse encouraged anyone who could not attend the in-person dedication to come to the building and walk through, blessing the rooms that will be used to minister to students for years to come.
He emphasized that the prayer of churches, staff, alumni and students is the reason Longhorn BSM has been blessed throughout its ministry.
“Why do we have a 100 year old ministry? Why do we have the space that we have and the proximity so close to campus?” It's because people have prayed for us. For a long time people have been praying for us,” Shouse said at the end of the service. “So I ask you to continue praying for us so that we can continue doing the great work that God has called us to do on these 40 acres here in Austin.”
To learn more about BSM, go to txbsm.org. Find a BSM near you and see how you can be involved in making a difference in the lives of college students in your community at txbsm.org/locations.