Plans laid to rebuild Aggie BSM
___By Ken Camp
___Texas Baptist Communications
___COLLEGE STATION--With the help of the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation, the Baptist Student Ministry at Texas A&M University has launched a campaign to rebuild and renew the Aggie BSM.
___Operation Northgate is a $1.5 million campaign to rebuild the Aggie Baptist Student Center and to establish a permanent maintenance endowment. To date, $100,000 has been received and about $200,000 has been pledged.
___"This is a model for what we hope to duplicate at other BSMs," said Don Cramer, vice president of the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation and consultant for Operation Northgate.
___At least five of the 24 BSM facilities owned by the Baptist General Convention of Texas need extensive renovation or restoration, according to Tom Ruane, director of BGCT student ministry. Local Baptist associations own another 25 BSM buildings in Texas.
___The existing Baptist Student Center at Texas A&M was built 50 years ago and has developed serious structural problems that could make it uninhabitable within three years, Ruane noted.
___When funds become available, the old building will be razed and construction will begin on a new two-story, 13,200-square-foot facility.
___"We hope the new building will be much more versatile. BSM work has changed a lot since 1949, when the plans for the existing building were drawn," said Bob Mayfield, BSM director at Texas A&M.
___"The existing facility has such a tired appearance, it doesn't make much of a first impression on visiting students and parents," he added.
___In addition to being more attractive and inviting, the new building will have "breakout" rooms for small group Bible studies, a classroom equipped for teleconferenced distance learning and a mission center with missionary prayer requests, lists of former A&M students serving in missions and applications for mission service opportunities.
___The student ministry at Texas A&M was one of the first Baptist Student Unions in the nation, dating back 80 years, and it is believed to be the country's largest BSM at a state school.
___Estimated cost for demolition of the old Baptist Student Center at Texas A&M, together with site preparation, construction and furnishing of the new facility, is about $1.3 million.
___In addition, a goal of Operation Northgate is to establish at least a $200,000 maintenance endowment with the Baptist Foundation of Texas. The endowment would cover future costs of facility upkeep, repairs and replacement of furnishings and equipment.
___"The maintenance endowment is designed to ensure that those who give generously to build the new facility will never see it in disarray," Ruane said. "It is a way of honoring their gifts."
___Operation Northgate is the pilot project for further capital improvement campaigns involving Texas BSM facilities, Ruane said.
___Rather than making appeals only to churches and associations near the campuses, the campaigns will seek to involve a constituency unique to the BSM program.
___"The BSM needs to be a good partner--a good family member--within the association where it is located," Ruane said. "An association with a well-rounded missions program cannot and should not devote all of its resources to the BSM. This approach takes the pressure off the local association and helps to broaden the base of support.
___"There are a lot of non-Baptist parents who appreciate the contributions of the BSM in shaping their children's lifestyles," he continued. "There also are former students who live outside of Texas, who are not a part of Texas Baptist life, but they would like to have the opportunity to make a lasting contribution to the BSM."
___The Aggie BSM Alumni Association is planning a meal and open house Oct. 9, before the Texas A&M and Baylor University football game, to promote the campaign.
___For more information about Operation Northgate, contact the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation at (800) 558-8263.
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