Ninety-five years ago, the 19th Amendment was passed, allowing women to vote, the American Professional Football League was formed, and the first ever Baptist Student Union in Texas was established at Baylor Female College.
In 1920 the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor was chosen as the “laboratory” for the first BSU in Texas because of its roots in Christian faith and service. UMHB has always focused on the idea of teaching not only the knowledge found in books, but the knowledge found in knowing God.
This is apparent in the 1945 Centennial Series: According To His Purpose.
“During the past one hundred years… the college, and the student body itself have been concerned with ‘including the Christian religion within, and not just alongside of the educational process,’” according to the series.
The University’s mission served as the foundation for organizations such as the Mission Circle, Women’s Ministry Union, Student Christian Association, Young Woman’s Auxiliary, and the Baptist Student Union.
The name Baptist Student Union, however, was changed to the Baptist Student Ministry in 1994 to better describe the purpose of the organization. Despite this name change, the goal of the BSM has remained very much the same since its beginning in 1920.
“[The BSU] has its object in the winning of others to Christ and His Church; the enlistment of Christians in Bible and Mission study… the calling out of the called for special service,” 1920 Student Secretary Joseph P. Boone said in a 1940s pamphlet about the ministry.
Today the BSM offers over 20 ministries that impact the students as well as the community surrounding our campus.
BSM director Shawn Shannon believes that the constant growth and change of the BSM is what has made it such a driving force on campus.
“This is my 36th year in campus ministry. My 16th at UMHB. UMHB is a precious place. I am convinced that we can touch the world from here,” she said.
Shannon is thankful her time here on campus and the opportunities it has provided for ministry.
“The campus is a strategic place and the college season of life is crucial for making significant decisions… and what an incubator the campus is for relationships. What an important time to pursue Christ with others and for the sake of others,” Shannon said.
It’s this passion for ministry that has inspired many students on campus to get involved with the BSM, including senior interdisciplinary studies education major Rebekah Peyton.
“There is such an amazing peace in knowing that I am joined together in my UMHB experience with other students who are trying to follow Christ, lead ministries, and also be successful students,” Peyton said. “It really helps me focus on what is most important.”
However, the BSM has not only changed the lives of the students and staff involved in the ministries, but also the lives of students who attend the various events the ministries host.
“I know several International students who came to know Christ through ministries… I have also seen many other students in various ministries who have turned from addiction or [have been given hope from] mental illness, like depression, because of their involvement in the BSM,” Peyton said.
In order to reach and touch the lives of even more people, Shannon hopes to keep broadening the spectrum of ministries.
“We want to grow in being friends with international students … in engaging commuter students … in connecting with students from military backgrounds or with military connections,” Shannon said.
Although the act of serving people can be a long and difficult one, Shawn Shannon and members of the BSM wouldn’t have it any other way because it’s this service that has brought people closer to Jesus.
“In the end you see that other people are benefiting from [your service], and just the ability to serve others and to share Christ’s love through your actions is really monumental,” sophomore Christian studies major Franklin Groseclose said.