Baptist Collegiate Ministry building reopening sparks excitement, concern after year-long renovation

The Greek Row location went through an $800,000 overhaul, bringing modern features and accessibility to the nearly 60-year-old building.

The+Baptist+Collegiate+Ministry%2C+as+photographed+on+July+9%2C+2022.

Matthew Shipley

The Baptist Collegiate Ministry, as photographed on July 9, 2022. (Hustler Staff/Matthew Shipley)

Matthew Shipley, Senior Staff Writer

The Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) at Vanderbilt Place is reopening for the start of the 2022-23 academic year after more than a year of renovations. The $800,000 project was financed through the sale of a portion of the BCM property to the university in 2019.

BCM is a faith community that functions in cooperation with the Center for Spiritual and Religious Life despite not officially being a registered student organization. It holds weekly worship gatherings and small group sessions, engages in community service projects and connects students to local churches.

“As campus has grown and built up around us, it is important to our organization that we match our surroundings to best serve our campus community,” Vanderbilt Affiliate Baptist Chaplain and Director of BCM Tiffany Hudson said. “We feel like the inside of our building now matches the beauty of the outside.” 

The biggest change to the building, Hudson said, is its openness. Where a wall and restrooms previously separated the upper and lower levels, a ramp has now been installed, allowing an open view of the space and handicap accessibility. Hudson said the architectural team intended to keep the original mid-century modern feel of the building while updating it to the needs of current college students.

The interior space of Baptist Campus Ministry, as photographed on July 9, 2022.
The interior space of Baptist Collegiate Ministry, as photographed on July 9, 2022. (Hustler Staff/Matthew Shipley)

“I think students are going to love it,” Hudson said.

Senior Cade Burton is a part of the leadership team at BCM. He said he similarly enjoys the new open floor plan of the renovated building.

It doesn’t give you the same feeling of being lost in a maze-like walking into Stevenson—it just feels cozy,” Burton said. “I think that makes it really inviting to people who have some interest in BCM; the building is a good indicator of the organization.”

Despite the BCM’s on-campus location between the Alpha Delta Pi and former Delta Kappa Epsilon houses, the building has been owned by the Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention since it was built in 1963. Vanderbilt currently owns all of the houses on Greek Row except for the BCM and St. Augustine’s Chapel.

“I like to think our ministry to campus is not about the building, but about the people. However, I recognize the gift of having a building of our own and space to meet and serve students,” Hudson said. “Our BCM building gives us a place to gather, to build community, to share meals, to laugh together, to walk through the challenges of life, to grow as human beings in a world that is ever-changing.”

A meeting room at Baptist Campus Ministry, as photographed on July 9, 2022.
A meeting room at Baptist Collegiate Ministry, as photographed on July 9, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Tiffany Hudson)

Sophomore Qwynn Foster said they hold conflicting feelings on the reopening of the BCM house.

“On one hand, I’m very happy that those within the Baptist community will have a place where they can feel safe and affirmed. On the other, the Christian church has served as a source of trauma and pain for many individuals,” Foster said. “Their presence on campus may make many students feel uncomfortable and has the ability to negatively affect students with religious trauma. My hope is that those in leadership encourage tenets of acceptance, love and respect.”

Burton said the BCM building has felt like home to him while at Vanderbilt and looks forward to future students experiencing the community as well. 

“We try to do as much outreach as we can on campus. That can take many forms too: passing out exam season care packages, giving away fruit at Rand wall and offering rides to a bunch of different Nashville churches at the start of each year,” Burton said. “I really like that we try to care for our student population while also trying to be good representatives of how Jesus served.”

Going forward, Hudson said she is enthusiastic about the future of BCM at Vanderbilt Place.

“This building has a lot of history, and I’m excited for many more generations of students to walk through our doors, make BCM a part of their collegiate experience, to build lifelong relationships and make memories they share and reflect upon with fondness for a lifetime,” she said.