Sounds of a guitar, violin, tambourine, flute and students singing could be heard coming from the Western Kentucky University Faculty House Log Cabin on Wednesday during the Reformed University Fellowship worship meeting.
Around 40 students gathered at the cabin to fellowship and hear God’s word. RUF Campus Minister Ross Lockwood said it’s important to have groups like RUF on college campuses because the world is broken and people are broken and the group provides college students with some kind of redemption, healing and a place to go to escape the loneliness, anxiety and depression.
College is hard for students.
“Expectation levels on these students is really high, not only from their parents, but from themselves,” Lockwood said. “College students really need a place in a community where they can come and hear the good news and hear that they are known and that they are loved and that they can find that in the Gospel of Jesus.”
RUF was started 10 years ago at WKU by the Grace and Peace Presbyterian Church and is the official campus ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America.
According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2015, between 2007 to 2014, the percentage of college graduates who identify with Christianity has declined by nine percentage points since 2007 from 73 percent to 64 percent.
The Christian share of the population has declined by a similar amount among those with less than a college education from 81 percent to 73 percent. People who don’t affiliate themselves with any religion now constitute 24 percent of all college graduates, up from 17 percent, and 22 percent of those with less than a college degree feel the same, up from 16 percent.
“I believe that God has been at work though this ministry and my hope is to reach students for Christ and equip them to serve Western Kentucky, Bowling Green and hopefully to serve through a local church after graduation,” Lockwood said.
RUF is primarily a ministry by and for students, something Lockwood hopes to grow the reach of.
WKU senior Clay Watkins of Paducah is a fellowship group leader for RUF, coming to the group after attending Grace and Peace.
“When I come to RUF I can relax, I can be who I am and I’ve realized that at RUF it’s OK to not be OK sometimes. I feel like I can be myself and I don’t have to put on a face when I come here and at the other ministries it just didn’t feel quite the same,” Watkins said.
WKU senior Christina Bozarth of Owensboro is also a fellowship group leader and she agrees that the environment at RUF is one of grace where everyone is loving and understanding.
“I think we all understand that sometimes you’re not having the best day and sometimes you are and people take you however you are,” Bozarth said. “It’s a welcoming environment.”
WKU Freshman Stephen Green of Sellersburg, Ind., started attending RUF this semester. After a campus ministry fair the group really reached out to him.
“Ross is this young youth pastor and that kind of stood out because I thought he was a student when I first met him and that reminded me of my youth pastor back home,” Green said. “It’s just nice to be a part of something.”
RUF meets every Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the Faculty House. They also have several other events going on throughout the year.
— For more information, call or text Ross Lockwood at 901-494-4383.
— Follow Daily News faith/general assignments reporter Simone C. Payne on Twitter @_SimonePayne or visit bgdailynews.com.