February 5, 2017 — Penn State, Pitt, Akron, Millersville

Two weeks, two mature RUF groups, two young RUF groups. I arrived in State College two weeks ago tomorrow to a gentle snowfall. I enjoyed coffee with some student leaders in the afternoon, then visited a Bible study in the evening. I spent most of Tuesday with campus minister Joe Dentici, then had dinner with Joe and Melissa. Penn State RUF is a solid ministry, and Joe and Melissa have adapted well to a new university.

On to Pittsburgh on Wednesday, getting coffee with an old friend along the way. Campus minister Derek Bates and I spent much of the next three days together. I met a student who is considering ministry and has questions about it, and had dinner on Thursday with our staff woman, Callie, and her husband James. Earlier on Thursday I met with the chairman of the church planting committee for the Pittsburgh Presbytery to discuss starting a church in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Then we were joined by the RUF committee chairman to discuss starting RUF in the same town. This project is taking a lot of coordination, but it’s coming together. Derek preached a fine sermon at Large Group that evening. I had a leisurely breakfast with Derek and his wife Luda on Friday before heading over to Akron.

I just began supervising RUF at the University of Akron in Ohio last fall, so this was my second visit there. Instead of driving all the way back home only to turn around and drive out to Akron, I decided to spend the weekend in Ohio and learn a little about the place. One thing I learned is that in winter, they get an inch or two of snow every day. I was glad I took my heavy wool overcoat! On Sunday I went to church with Nate Bower, our RUF minister, then drove over to check out nearby Kent State University and the surrounding towns.

I spent Monday and Tuesday with Nate and his students. On Monday night I had dinner with Nate and his wife Naomi, and on Tuesday night I attended the RUF Large Group meeting. A year ago Nate had 15 in his group, but by May of 2016 he had 35. This year there has not been much numerical growth. Instead it has been a year for consolidation and leadership development. Nate has gathered enough students to work with, and they show impressive potential. The next three years will be critical for developing leaders and solidifying the ministry.

I reviewed some of these things with Nate before leaving town on Wednesday and driving home. On Thursday I drove to Millersville, PA, to see Trip and Joy Beans and the RUF group there. Trip is halfway through the foundational leadership development process, and is making good progress. I met several of his students, and Trip and I discussed his work. Ruth joined Trip, Joy and me for dinner on Friday evening.

Tomorrow I head out to Burlington, Vermont, and then to the University of Connecticut.