Reformed University Fellowship chapter strives to build relationships, foster community

Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) at Baylor is a smaller community-based ministry that is focused on discipleship and mentoring. Photo courtesy of Caroline Macurda

By Rachel Chiang | Reporter

Baylor’s chapter of Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) aims to provide community and foster relationships for students. RUF invites students to build relationships and study God’s word, according to the organization’s website.

RUF is a campus ministry with multiple chapters on college campuses both nationally and internationally. It was formed under the Presbyterian Church in America.

RUF campus staff member Olivia Shields has been involved in RUF since she was a freshman in college. She now works at Baylor’s chapter to serve and encourage students on campus.

“We just want RUF to be a place for students that are burned out in their faith,” Shields said. “Or if they are skeptical or cynical or physically exhausted — maybe they have been working a lot in their faith and feel like they aren’t getting anywhere. Or if they have been committed Christians for a long time.”

Shields said she wants the ministry to be a safe place where students can grow and connect with other believers.

She said her job mainly consists of spending one-on-one time with students through mentorship and discipling.

Shields said the ministry’s honesty and sincerity was what persuaded her to continue pursuing interning and working for RUF after graduating.

“RUF was a place where people are so honest — honest about their struggles, honest about their sin, honest about life,” Shields said. “And that was so appealing to me when I was in college. And that’s something I really highly regard in people and just in an organization in general.”

Shields said being a staff member, compared to a student member, has been interesting due to her insight when helping students navigate college. She said it has allowed her to meet so many more people and hear their stories.

Sunnyvale junior Cambelle Starnes said she loves RUF due to its support and non-judgment.

“I think what I love so much about RUF, it doesn’t feel like I’m being judged by the wrong that I’ve done,” Starnes said. “But rather, I get to look at the sin that is going on in my life and go to people who either feel that way or don’t but will still support me in that.”

During her freshman year, Starnes said the RUF campus minister reached out and offered to get coffee with her. She said the experience really showed her how much the organization strives to build a relationship on a personal level and made her feel welcomed when she was still new to college life.

“It’s not just like we’re going to church on a Sunday morning and worshiping together, but it’s actually getting to know one another and knowing our struggles,” Starnes said.

Charlotte, N.C., junior and RUF president Caroline Macurda said the ministry creates a community and a deeper personal understanding of religion.

“It’s a smaller campus ministry, but I feel like that facilitates a really community-focused experience,” Macurda said. “I feel like I get to know people really well. And as far as faith goes, I think for me, it’s helped me grow in my understanding of God but then also my understanding of how to live just normal everyday life and what it looks like to be a Christian at Baylor.”