DENTON—With hands on shovels and eyes on the future, attendees of the University of North Texas (UNT) Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) groundbreaking ceremony celebrated an exciting new chapter for the 54-year-old campus ministry as they prepare to construct a new building.
The existing 7,200 square foot facility was built in 1960 as a tool to reach the campus community of 6,500 students for Christ. Now, over 50 years later, the student body has reached over 36,000, and there is need for a new space to reach the campus..
"The Lord is growing UNT, and He's growing this ministry," Stephanie Gates, UNT BSM director, told students, alumni and donors attending the celebration. "We feel the way we can best respond is by building a new building."
During the groundbreaking ceremony, Dr. Jan Daehnert, former director of the UNT BSM and BGCT staff member, spoke on the heritage of the ministry saying it has a long-standing legacy for sending students out on the mission field.
Dr. David Hardage, executive director for Texas Baptists, also spoke, giving insight into the quality of the investment and cooperation that took place to raise support for the new building.
"What you have invested in is the future of not just lives that will be changed here, but generations," Dr. Hardage said. "When you change a life, generations to come are changed."
With the cooperation of Denton Baptist Association and local churches as well as fundraising efforts through the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation, the UNT BSM will have a new, bigger building valued at around $2 million expectantly by the end of 2015.
The naming donation was given to honor Wilson Hodges who was a Baptist deacon in Overton, Texas. The building will be named Wilson Hodges Student Center.
The conceptual plan for the new building is approximately 10,000 square feet and will incorporate energy efficiencies to make future operational costs affordable. It will meet the needs of the ministry with a larger gathering area, small group meeting rooms, a recreation area, a media room and an outdoor patio.
With a newly constructed student center opening up just across the street in fall 2015, the BSM building is in a prime location for student activity.
"A convenient location leads to a conversation," said Gates, noting that a study revealed around 18,000 students pass by the student center daily, which provides a great opportunity for outreach right outside the BSM's front door.
The UNT BSM offers weekly free lunch, a variety of Bible studies and ministries, and worship sessions all intended to share the Gospel and encourage spiritual growth amongst the campus community. To learn more about Texas Baptists collegiate ministries, visit