Vanderbilt has a ‘new’ place: BCM building remodeled
By Chris Turner
NASHVILLE — Bill Choate asked James Kennon if he’d help select a paint color suitable for “freshening up” the Vanderbilt University Baptist College Ministry building. Neither of them could have imagined then that 33 years later they’d be cutting the ribbon on a complete overhaul.
“The building was built in 1963,” said Choate, Director of Baptist Collegiate Ministries for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, and for more than a decade once the Vanderbilt BCM minister. “There had not been any overall renovations in 60 years. The building was extremely dated and was not user-friendly. It desperately needed updating.”
Major renovations began last year under the architectural guidance of Kennon, a principal architect with the Nashville firm Architecture Workshop. Kennon is also a member of First Baptist Church Nashville.
The work was completed in June and the “new” building’s ribbon-cutting and dedication took place Saturday, July 9, signaling the beginning of a new era of Baptist Collegiate Ministry at one of the nation’s most prestigious universities.
“Renovating the BCM at Vanderbilt Place was timely and needed to keep up with our surroundings,” said Tiffany Hudson, Vanderbilt’s current TBMB BCM specialist. “It comes on the heels of a world-wide pandemic that nearly halted ministry and made serving students and our campus community very challenging. I’m grateful that BCM can start the 2022-2023 academic year with a brand-new space to welcome incoming and returning students.”
The cost of the project was $800,000 and was paid for from the sale of a small strip of the BCM’s property that was adjacent to an alley that ran behind the building. Vanderbilt bought that property to create a walkway and greenspace. The plan is to now make what was the backside of the BCM the main entrance, strategically positioning the BCM to face the steady flow of students and faculty pedestrians.
“The building needed to be opened up,” Kennon said. “There were some accessibility issues inherent with the original design that needed correcting. This new design opens the interior space and opens out to the greenspace adjacent to the walkway. The gospel is open to everyone, and we wanted the building to reflect that idea.”
Allen Lindsey agrees with Kennon’s assessment and immediately understood the architectural vision. Lindsey is the contractor who oversaw the renovation and is a member at Long Hollow Baptist Church. He’s also an Auburn University BCM alumnus.
“This project was a thrill for me to work on,” Lindsey said. “BCM ministry had a big impact on me when I was a college student. I believe the building here is now much more inviting and offers a tremendous strategic opportunity to have a significant impact.”
And that’s why Hudson believes the renovation couldn’t have been more timely. “Nearly everyone is longing to be together after coming out of the pandemic and the isolation so many felt,” she said. “Students are searching for truth and community and BCM offers both.
“Ministry on a college campus is vital because college students are likely taking a microscope to their faith and upbringing for the first time without the guidance of parents or guardians.
A BCM is a safe place for students to explore faith. Our desire at the Vandy BCM is to create community, reach students for Christ, disciple and equip them in evangelism training, help them serve on mission and help them find a local church in which to be involved while in the Nashville area.”
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, put the building renovation and ribbon cutting into a larger perspective.
“Think of the impact BCM is having here on this campus and through 22 other BCMs across the state,” Davis said. “Because of the faithful giving of Tennessee Baptists through the Cooperative Program and Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions, Tennessee Baptists have had a hand in shaping generation after generation of tomorrow’s leaders, whether those called to vocational ministry or those sent out as missionaries to the marketplace.
“Every year more than 5,000 college students are involved in BCM across our state with over 100 students being saved, baptized in one of our local TBC churches and set on the road to discipleship. What we’ve financially invested in this physical structure and what we’ve rededicated to the Lord, is not simply celebrating a building, it is celebrating an investment in the spiritual impact to come in the lives of the young people who will walk through these doors.” B&R