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Student work veterans involve collegians in variety of ministries

STARKVILLE, Miss. (BP)–Between them, Ken Watkins and June Scoggins have more than 50 years of student work under their belts. In a ministry that can be physically, spiritually and emotionally demanding, that’s an unusually long tenure.
How have they done it?
“Well, first of all, this is my calling,” Watkins, director of the Baptist Student Union at Mississippi State University in Starkville, said, adding with a laugh, “And I really can’t do anything else.
“Also, I’ve been very fortunate to have an excellent associate who has complementary skills,” Watkins said. “She’s very assertive, practical and detailed-oriented, where I tend to be more idealistic and theoretical. I like empowering people for ministry; she gets things done. I think we’re a good blend.”
“I just love what I do,” Scoggins explained. “I never get tired of college students.”
Working side by side at MSU the last 18 years, Watkins and Scoggins have provided leadership to the BSU, involving students in everything from challenging Bible study and discipleship courses to kissing pigs to raise money for missions.
In addition to Crossroads International Friendship House, an outreach to international students and their families, the BSU at MSU also provides sponsorship and meeting facilities for “United in Christ,” an intentionally interracial and interdenominational student group that meets weekly for Bible study, worship and prayer. Greg Jones, a volunteer staffer who focuses on reconciliation ministry, serves as spiritual adviser for the group, now in its fourth year. Jones is also an unofficial chaplain for the MSU football team.
Watkins admitted he’d like to see more African Americans involved in the main BSU group, adding one problem is that students of both races don’t have many role models of successful interracial friendships. In addition to being co-workers, Watkins, who is white, and Jones, an African American, have become personal friends.
“These students need to see Greg and me as friends and they don’t just need to hear him speak on race relations,” Watkins said. “We’ve got to get where we don’t see black and white. But if we don’t start by developing relationships, it’s not going to happen.”
The BSU also boasts an active student missions program. In 1997, eight students served as summer missionaries and 23 went on short-term mission trips to Panama City Beach, Fla., and Honduras in Central America. The BSU’s 1997 student missions offering goal is an ambitious $15,000.
Other ministries of the MSU BSU include:
— weekly outreach at a local nursing home;
— occasional mission projects for Habitat for Humanity;
— teams of students who conduct “DiscipleNow” and other Bible study and discipleship retreats in area homes and churches;
— a campus-wide revival known as “Christival,” which annually attracts more than 500 students.
The BSU has two major weekly meetings: “Priority,” an evening of praise, worship, testimonies, Bible study and fellowship on Tuesday evenings, and “Noonday,” a lunch and devotion held on Wednesday.
“Family groups,” small Bible study and prayer groups that meet weekly, also are available for freshman and transfer students; and “FLEA” (Fellowship, Leadership, Encouragement and Accountability) groups are open to upperclassmen.
There are also two music groups, Drawn Together and The Fishermen, and a dramatic and creative worship team known as Acts, Too. All three groups lead church services and youth activities, as well as performing at BSU meetings.
“We try to offer a variety of ministries and activities,” Watkins said. “I have found that our students want to be involved; they want to be doing something. And they respond to quality; they want and expect excellence.”

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  • Chip Alford