Relations few between Bible group, local pastors

The Iowa State Daily/March 29, 1978

Editor's Note: Today's story is the second part of a series dealing with one student's experience with ISU Bible Study and the structure of the organization.

Relations between ISU Bible Study and Ames churches represented by Campus Ministers Association are not "the best." In fact, according to Campus Ministers Association President Mary Sue Gast, no relationship exists at all.

Both ISU Bible Study and Campus Ministers Association are campus organizations registered with the Office of Student Life (OSL). Gast said she thinks no relationship exists because of "differing theological perspectives."

ISU Bible Study has been registered as a campus organization for two years. The group lists Jeff Newburn, I Ed 3, as president and Larry Bacon, E E 4, as treasurer. The group's faculty adviser is David Smith, agriculture engineering.

To become registered, groups must list a statement of purpose. ISU Bible Study lists its statement of purpose "to examine both the Old Testament and the New Testaments of the Bible and to encourage intellectual honesty concerning Biblical truth."

According to the registration, all students at Iowa State are eligible for membership.

Other leaders, or "elders," not listed with OSL are Jim McCotter, 224 Stanton; Gary Kellogg, University Mobile Court; and Mike Stohlmeyer, 600 5th St. According to Newburn, the term "elder" as used by ISU Bible Study means someone "older and wiser, someone who leads the group."

Newburn said no official process exists to become an elder. "When a person matures spiritually, and can talk about a Christian life and live it, they get more practice in leading." He said a person doesn't have to pass any certain test to be an elder, but "it's pretty obvious when somebody knows what they're talking about."

OSL registration also requires three officers of the group to sign a non-discrimination statement, and all financial business of the group must be conducted through its account at Beardshear Hall.

Campus ministers Association is a registered campus organization composed of representatives of nine Ames area churches representing Jewish and Catholic faiths and the various Protestant denominations.

Gast said two years ago invitations to attend informational meetings were sent to Ames churches and religious groups, including ISU Bible Study. Campus Ministers received no response from ISU Bible Study.

Gast said she was never sure why no response came, but attributed it to differing theological perspectives. "Their approach to the scripture differs considerably from mine," she said.

She and almost all other campus ministers have contact with students who attend ISU Bible Study activities.

Fr. Ernest Engler, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, who is a member of Campus Ministers, said some of the students in his parish attend or have attended ISU Bible Study activities.

"I have a lot of kids that go to study the Bible because they can handle the attacks made on the church. But some of them do get scared." Engler described the group as "extremely fundamentalist and very anti-established-church."

However, Jeff Reed, pastor of Ontario Bible Church, said he and his church members have convictions similar to those of ISU Bible Study, but added that they may differ on the methodology of evangelizing.

"The basic vision we have is the same-that being to communicate the word of God is just that (the word of God) and Christ is the answer to our lives." Reed said the basic difference in the groups is the extent of influence the leaders have in the lives of the members.

He noted that ISU Bible Study leaders would not teach people to quit school or their jobs, but they might teach that a committment to God should be greater than committment to career.

"And we agree with them on that," he said.

Bible study President Newburn said the theological perspective taken by ISU Bible Study is that the Bible is a basic guideline for belief and practice. "We attempt to go by what the Bible says," he said.

He said the group is not against established churches. "If someone is happy in his church, I don't want to stop him from going. If a person decides he wants to come to ISU Bible Study, that's his choice too."

Newburn said ISU Bible Study provides a spiritual activity for those interested and if "someone attends and decides it's not for them, that's fine." He said he knows many students who attend both ISU Bible Study and their own churches.

Newburn said he became involved in ISU Bible Study as a freshman because he was interested in spiritual things.

"I chose the group I thought was the best...If I thought someone else was doing it better I'd join them." But he added he respects other groups and said people should find what suits them best.

"All the groups aren't the same...People should find out what's best for they want to live and believe."

Newburn said ISU Bible Study does not consider itself a church, but just a campus organization. "We are a campus organization which meets Friday nights, Sunday mornings and at noon during the week."

He said he knows that people who attend ISU Bible Study have Wednesday night gatherings in private homes, but added, "These aren't officially part of ISU Bible Study."

A Friday night meeting consists of singing and a message given by one of the elders or another ISU Bible Study member, according to Newburn. Newburn added that members often stay after the meeting to visit with each other.

With registration as a campus organization, groups may gain the use of campus buildings and facilities, according to Lynn Ryon, OSL program adviser. ISU Bible Study uses MacKay Hall auditorium for Friday night Bible studies and several other campus buildings for activities during the week.

The group also uses several rooms at the Memorial Union. Use of these rooms is not covered by the same rules as University buildings because the Union is owned by a private corporation according to John Pace, director of the Office of Spaces and Scheduling.

Campus organizations are not automatically entitled to the use of campus facilities, according to Pace. He said a group's use of a campus building or facility depends on the "appropriateness of that activity."

Elders on higher education board

Jim McCotter and Gary Kellogg, both ISU Bible Study elders, are also on the board of directors of The Higher Educational Opportunity Service (THEOS). Next week a series of stories will appear regarding the origin, structure, funding and activities of THEOS.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.