For the past five years, Francis Marion University and Florence-Darlington Technical College students have gathered together for 153 services at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) building on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. for dinner and worship.
BCM, formally known as the Baptist Student Union, serves along with other BCMs across the state to reach college students of all backgrounds.
The 153 service gets its name from the Bible passage John 21:1-6. In this passage Jesus’ disciples are fishing, and Jesus tells them to cast their nets on a different side of the boat. The disciples then catch 153 fish after recasting their nets. The name of the Tuesday night service was changed to demonstrate campus minister, Kendall Danford’s, vision for the BCM group – having students from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Danford says, “We want 153 to be open to all kinds of students. We want to have rich students, poor students, students that are outgoing, students that are shy. We want to have students that are a mix of everything.”
On a regular Tuesday night 153 service, students gather together and eat a meal prepared by a local church, and they have an hour of fellowship and social time. At 8 p.m they gather for student-led worship and relevant, biblical teaching from either Danford, one of the leadership team members or a guest speaker. Through biblical teaching, Danford hopes that he can allow students to see the Bible’s relevance in their daily lives.
In addition to the Tuesday night services, BCM has various events and meetings to bring students closer together. On a weekly basis, students that are interested can meet together in small groups called core groups. These groups are focused on creating community between students at Francis Marion University and Florence-Darlington Technical College. One of these groups is primarily focused on helping incoming freshman acclimate to college life and meet other freshman.
Caroline Spearman is one of two freshman core group leaders.
“Being a freshman core group leader has been a great experience to see freshmen students arriving at college and finding a community and a home at BCM through core group,” Spearman said. “The core group is a great place to make friends who will really get to know you and have your back.”
Apart from core groups, during spring, summer and winter breaks BCM sponsors students to go on national and international mission trips to places like South Korea, Romania, California and New York. Over the years BCM has had students on every continent excluding Antarctica. Also, BCM students have made a career out of full-time missions after graduating college. Students on these trips work with missionaries who have been serving longterm in the mission field.
Scott Scruggs, a senior at Francis Marion University, has been a part of summer missions for the past two summers.
“When I went to Cleveland I was a church planter. I helped start a new church in a community, and I was an intern at Forward Church. When I was in Kosovo, I entered the country as a math teacher. I used this as a way to share the gospel with students there my age and around 12 or 13,” Scruggs said. “[Missions] has given me a view of how urgent it is to share the gospel with the world. Overall, missions has opened my eyes to a world view rather than just reading from a book.”