Meeting our Affiliated Chaplains – Rev. Stacey Croft
Rev. William S. Croft
Stacey is a Texan who moved to Nashville from Jackson, Mississippi, where he received his degree from Reformed Theological Seminary. It was during his time in undergrad at Baylor University when Stacey and his wife Megan met on a blind date. After graduation he was the youth director at Christ the King Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Houston for two years. Stacey went on to be the youth director at Park Cities Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Dallas before moving to Jackson to finish seminary. Ministering to college students has been a love for Stacey and Megan for quite some time. They are thankful to be on the campus of Vanderbilt doing what the Lord has truly called them to do.
We sat down with Rev. Croft to learn more about RUF and his ministry.
Can you tell us about RUF and some of the things that the ministry does?
Croft: RUF is a ministry started by the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) and the mission of it it is to place on each campus an ordained teaching Elder. The distinctive feature about RUF is to really connect the campus with the church. Instead of trying to form a church on campus, were trying to draw students to the church. I am in essence, trying to work myself out of a job, that is to get the student to think beyond this time and grow. We are not an “on campus ministry” but rather an “in and through campus ministry” that not only engages the students at our large group meetings on Wednesday nights, but that they go back into the campus and affect it through this.
What are some of the things that RUF does throughout the year?
Croft: Our large groups meet on Wednesdays and we also have smaller groups that meet either with me, or with one of our staff, we have two interns that are graduates from other local universities to do group study. In the fall we have a conference we go to that is more retreat style that we take over 100 students come to with a speaker we invite, we have our Christmas parties and a larger barn dance, but while we do smaller service projects as well. We try to provide avenues within the city that students can do service, even without RUF. We work with tutoring ministries in Edgehill, World Relief Services that works with Nashville refugees, and other service project opportunities. Our mission statement is to reach students for Christ and equip them to serve. In that way we reach out to both Christian students, but also those who may want to learn. It’s really about relationships and how we go forth out to the world.
How long have you been with RUF and been doing campus ministry?
Croft: I’m in my 8th year. It’s kind of crazy to think about. But, it’s been fun. I did youth ministry years and years ago, but I knew even then I loved RUF. I helped RUF get started at Baylor in Texas where I’m from, but now they’re all over the country. I’ve always had a relationship with RUF. There’s an attraction to campus ministry, especially on a university campus because of the direct contact with students. Especially at Vanderbilt, I am able to have an office here and able to interact with the students as an Affiliated Chaplain and able to interact with the students and be in their lives regularly. At that’s huge to me. I’m all about how the Gospel transforms us as a community and I can’t do that if I’m not here and lobbying over the wall to the students. It breaks down those barriers. It brings meaning to the students lives where they can own who they are in Christ and know who they are here when they are separated from their families, sometimes for the first time.
How does RUF approach the busy lives of students and make their spiritual lives a part of it?
Croft: I think the first thing or goal is creating a biblical world view for the students. How does it transform priorities in their lives and see what they do in their lives through that lens. There is a culture of working hard and playing hard, but we teach them to work well and playing well, in part to rest, not as stopping, but slowing down and enhancing the enjoyment of what life is. As students go through the talk in a university of faith and reason and their interplay it is vital to grow as wise men and women and instead make a grid for life as reason and faith are not mutually exclusive. We may not be able to always comprehend, but we are asked to apprehend this life. It encourages our student to be thoughtful and know how to go back into the campus to use their rationale in their lives of their fraternity, or student government or in engineering or wherever they are. The Bible never makes it mutually exclusive to have faith or reason.
In the thought of faith and reason, RUF is hosting an event entitled “God, Fact or Fiction?” through the Veritas group. Can you tell us about the event?
I’m really excited about the event. We are bringing Dr. John Lennox, a mathematician from Oxford University in England. He will discuss the importance of being of faith, or being Christian in students lives in an everyday setting on campus. It is not only for Christians, but for the whole campus to interact with the question of God and our lives. It is a hollistic way of thinking about math and science or engineering and making sense of things. It is making them connected. We have tried to get Veritas here before, but were unable. But we finally have the chance to get Dr. Lennox here. Everyone can look at the questions that he will address on the Veritas web site at https://my.veritas.org/vandy/. They can also submit their hardest question to him as well. It will be at Langford Auditorium hosted by our Dr. Paul Lim who is another Veritas speaker.
The event will be held Wednesday, February 20th at 7pm and is open to the public and free of charge.
See more about RUF at https://www.vandyruf.org/