History

2013 marked the 30th anniversary of the Christian Student Foundation (CSFPA). It was through the vision of several church leaders in central Pennsylvania that CSFPA came into existence with a vision: to expand the kingdom of God in a crucial point of influence within our culture — the university.

It all began in the spring of 1983, when William "Buzz" Roberts approached the elders of the State College Christian Church with a proposal to establish a Christian campus ministry at Penn State University. The stated purpose of the Fellowship was to develop an evangelistic/discipleship ministry, based on Mt. 28:18-20, by reaching the lost, discipling believers toward maturity and training Christians to become leaders in their communities. Under God's blessing and the eldership's supervision, we "press on" toward the goal.

The first several months of labor focused on organization: (1) establishment of the Christian Student Fellowship (CSF) at Penn State and (2) creating the Christian Student Foundation, the parent organization. In working with university officials through the Center for Ethics and Religious Affairs, we established our credentials according to the University's basic and specific guidelines. With a nucleus of 6 students, we received recognition as a registered student organization on September 19, 1983. Meanwhile financial appeals went out to friends, family, congregations and other campus ministries who responded with generous gifts. One campus ministry in particular was the Christian Campus House at Purdue University. The students involved in that fellowship were so moved by our appeal that they took up a love offering, totaling $300. It was a great encouragement to us that another campus ministry would help us in this way. Later that year, the CSFPA Board of Directors was formed, the constitution was adopted and our vision set.

Throughout the years, students involved with CSF-Penn State have initiated many evangelistic endeavors on and off campus. Service projects, Spring Break mission trips and Friday night ministries highlight our continuing efforts to share the message of hope with the campus! It is reassuring to know many CSF-PSU alumni are still impacting the world as ministers, missionaries, educators, engineers, and other professions which influence our society. Our current ministry staff at CSF-Penn State includes campus ministers Joshua Pake, Jessica Ritter and Cady Wurtz along with Buzz Roberts.

The preparation of CSF at University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University began in 1984 with a conversation among campus ministry friends in Pittsburgh. Noting the success of CSF-Penn State, a request was made to the CSFPA Board concerning establishing a fellowship at Pitt/CMU in 1985. The Board laid out plans of securing names of students, sought financial support, searched for a full-time staff member, and initiated the steps necessary to establish a Fellowship through University guidelines. One lesson learned in establishing the Fellowship at Pitt/CMU was patience. Not until the spring of 1987 was the Board of Directors able to approve Sam Brunsvold as campus minister. From his heart, Sam stated, "We desire to see this ministry make disciples for Christ. We will encourage a lifestyle of evangelism and concern for others. We will encourage a desire for world evangelism."

January 28, 1997 marked a tragic period in CSF history at Pittsburgh. Sam Brunsvold was shot and killed outside his home as he returned from a student leadership meeting. While we may not understand the reason for this tragedy, we do realize that Jesus spoke truth when he said, "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." (John 12:24). The student leadership, under the guidance of the Board, continued the fellowship through the rest of the semester. In the meantime, the search for a new campus minister began. In July of 1997, CSFPA called David Baynes as campus minister for CSF Pitt/CMU. David was formerly the minister of Sam's home congregation in Naperville, IL and through Sam's influence was led into campus ministry. David and Chris served faithfully until the fall of 2003 when he was beckoned to serve God in a different vocational field.

In the spring of 2000, CSF-Pittsburgh established "The Lighthouse." This Christian residence and fellowship ministry center continues to serve as an avenue to cultivate a Christian community among college students in the Pittsburgh area and has become a hub for many activities and meetings.

Due to administrative policy change for students groups at Carnegie Melon University in Pittsburgh, CSF began the process of being approved as a student organization on that campus. In April 2004 a constitution was approved giving CSF-CMU opportunity to register with the Student Activities Council. As a registered Student organization CSF now can promote its core values and organization activities to all students on campus.

Ted Hamilton, an alumni from Pitt, followed David Baynes as campus minister at Pitt/CMU until April 2007. During Ted's tenure, CSF worked along side New Hope Christian Community Church and established Connections, a coffeehouse/ministry center serving the students from several colleges and universities in the south Oakland area.

After seeking God's direction, the Board approved Greg Voss to serve as campus minister with CSF at Pitt/CMU in June 2007. Greg has been serving the Lord in Pittsburgh area for around 15 years. For three of those years he was on staff, overseeing the children & youth ministry as the Associate Minister of New Hope Christian Community Church. Over the years Greg has mentored students in CSF which increased his passion for the campus. With Greg at the helm, a bright future is in store for the ministry in Pittsburgh.

CSF at Bloomsburg's introduction into the "race" began through a group of students attending Bloomsburg University and Penn State's Hazelton Campus in the fall of 1988. Those students had friends attending the CSF at Penn State and desired to establish a sister fellowship. It was during this time the Board of Directors was seeking direction from the Lord as to the next step in establishing another campus ministry. When the request came before them, confirmation was given and the work began. Students attending Bloomsburg did much of the general work in organization. In the summer of 1989, Jeff Jackson was called to begin the ministry there. He states, "When I came to Bloomsburg my desire was to create a fellowship on campus that would seek God in a daily lifestyle. Our mission statement reflects this idea when it states that our fellowship strives 'to bring glory and honor to God in Christ Jesus, His son, through the power and guidance of His Holy Spirit.'"

After nine fruitful years at Bloomsburg, it became evident God was leading Jeff into a new ministry. With his departure in May 1998, the CSFPA board undertook an assessment process to consider the viability of its ministry in Bloomsburg. After prayerful consideration, it became apparent that CSFPA was unable to manage an effective presence on the campus. Therefore, the Board determined to suspend the ministry until a later time as the Lord directs.

Plans for CSF at Indiana University of Pennsylvania began in 1993. After many years of prayer and preparation, CSFPA Board of Directors gave approval to implement a fourth campus fellowship to begin in fall of 1999. In a financial partnership with Christian Outreach Associates (COA) of Pittsburgh, Darrell Combs was called to serve as campus minister.

The first two years at IUP were building years as the fellowship worked to establish itself and gain name recognition on campus. Ministry involvement included weekly worship and Bible study, as well as other fellowship activities and small group Bible studies. In an effort to create viable Christian community, students from IUP developed several outreach opportunities, which included spring break missions trips. Having completed six years of ministry, Darrel was called into the preaching ministry with First Christian Church of Big Run, PA. Following an evaluation of CSF-IUP's financial situation, the CSFPA Board of Directors decided to place the ministry on inactive status until financial conditions improve. So, under God's guidance, we "press on."

In June 2000, student leaders with an independent Christian fellowship group out of the Berks campus of the Penn State University in Reading, PA wrote to CSFPA's Board of Directors requesting affiliation with the ministry of the Christian Student Foundation. The board granted their request and fulfilled an answer to prayer.

CSF's involvement with the Berks fellowship group began through prayer in the late eighties when Kevin Martin, a former member and president of CSF at Penn State prayer-walked the Berks campus with a friend. A few years later that prayer would come to fruition as another member of CSF at Penn State, Brian Erland, began discipling two high school students who would eventually attend the branch campus at Reading. Meanwhile, God continued to bring together those who would play a key role in coordinating a Christian presence on campus. Several Berks students joined members from CSF-Penn State on a mission trip to North Carolina. Through this bonding experience, God revealed to these students the importance of having spiritual overseers and sought affiliation with CSFPA.

Today, CSF at Berks is actively involved in reaching the campus for Christ. Fellowship meetings, small group Bible studies, and ministries highlight some of the activities students are engage in on a weekly basis. Coupled with prayer these students naturally become influential to their peers. David Hershey serves as campus minister.

The beginnings of CSF at Lock Haven can be found in the fall of 2004. Two friends, in a casual conversation, dreamed of what could be done on campus. As a result, an initial meeting between officials of CSFPA and the Church of Christ in Blanchard, PA laid out a plan to establish the campus ministry. After the initial set of meetings to investigate the involvement of potential students, it was decided to wait on launching the fellowship until fall 2005.

As the semester approached so did the enthusiasm. In August 2005, seven LHU students met with representatives from the Church of Christ in Blanchard and CSFPA to institute the mission of the group and create various interactive activities which promote a vigorous environment of bible learning. In spring of 2006 CSF was approved by the student government as a registered student organization.

Since the initial gathering, CSF-LHU students have been praying for God to raise up someone who will shepherd their group. Their prayers were answered when the CSFPA Board of Directors approved Brandon Thomas as campus minister in July 2006. Brandon departed to continue his education at Emmanuel Christian Seminary From 2011-2015, Patrick Willis is served as the campus minister. We welcomed Tim and Kate Jackson in July 2016 to serve at Lock Haven.

Since 2009 the Lord's work is on being done on three more Penn State University branch campuses. For two years Tharren Thompson faithfully set the foundation for CSF-DuBois. He currently serves as the advisor for CSF. Daniel Emas, also hired in 2011 is the first official campus minister at Penn State-Altoona. Prior to Dan, the fellowhip was supported for two years by the Director of Ministries, Buzz Robert. Mike Andrews now serves at the Campus Minister. In the fall of 2015, Nicholas Garrety moved from University Park to begin the ministry at Penn-State Brandywine with much support from the Deleware Valley Christian Church.

As a sign of the Holy Spirit working in hearts of the students on campus, the CSF members continue to develop a priority of cultivating spiritual maturity and challenging others to live in obedient faith. They are confident this will result in a strong witness on campus and are looking forward to what God has designed for them to accomplish.

Billy Graham once said, "The most important mission field in the world is ministering on the college campus." Even though CSFPA has started five campus ministries, one question remains. How effective is campus ministry? Those of us who work closely with students on these three campuses have witnessed several hundred baptisms, countless rededications, and hundreds of students committed to present Jesus Christ as Lord to the world through their vocation. Several former students are presently enrolled in graduate seminary to receive training as church planters, youth ministers, pastors, chaplains and campus ministers.

We could sit back resting and satisfied in the success of the work already done but the words of Paul continue to challenge and move us:

"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead . . .we press on!"

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)