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Campus Ministries Takes Off in Ohio

Story by Heidi Shoemaker
Published 8/9/2011

Adventist Christian Fellowship chaplains connect to share ideas on how to witness and spiritually engage students on college and university campuses.

Last fall the Ohio Conference sponsored Campus Ministries programs at Ohio University (OU) in Athens, The Ohio State University in Columbus and Wright State University in Dayton. How did the Adventist Christian Fellowship (ACF) chaplains fare during their first year? Here are their stories:

Thurbers Offer “Christian Spirit” at OU
A little daunted by the task of attempting to reach a student body of 21,303 students, Ohio University ACF chaplains Darrin and Beamy Thurber started the school year with a prayer walk through the campus. Then the Thurbers hosted a back-to-school barbecue for students and community members. The 2010-11 school year marked the beginning of ACF as a recognized student group on campus, the start of a weekly campus Bible study, a weekly campus prayer time and other social and spiritual events.

One of ACF’s non-Christian international student members remarked that he is thankful he became involved with ACF as he “had a lot to learn from the Christian spirit of love and service.” One of the university’s student leaders also commented, “Students appreciate that ACF is a [positive] alternative, especially since OU is known to be a party school, ranking fifth in the nation for party schools.”

Students at The Ohio State University in Columbus host an ACF Bible study.
Helbleys Engage OSU Students
Gina and David Helbley did not let impending parenthood slow down their efforts at The Ohio State University (OSU). In between re-establishing an ACF group on campus, creating a website for their group (, weekly Bible studies led by ACF students, connecting community members with opportunities to engage the campus in fun, inspirational events, the Helbleys had their first child, Anna Journey. Gina also speaks at area churches to increase awareness of and promote campus ministry.

Araiza Finds Disciples at Wright State
According to Chaplain Sabrina Araiza, “Wright State ACF really had a great kickoff!” As the campus was bustling with 19,793 students, “We were eager to find excited [Seventh-day] Adventists and other Christians on campus who would want to grow as disciples on a public campus.” And that is just what she and her team did through Bible studies, multiple social events and community service projects in the Dayton area. A praise band is already in place for Friday night vespers for the coming school year. Araiza says one student who was not an Adventist shared with her how difficult it was for her to share her faith but felt that at ACF she finally had “a place where I can talk about God freely and … feel comfortable going out and sharing God with others.”

After having one-on-one meetings with the most active members, Ohio ACF chaplains have seen student leaders take charge of their own campus organizations. ACF leaders from the three campuses are planning a statewide conference for public students throughout all public universities titled “Engage Ohio 2011.”

Read more about all of the campus ministries at To learn more about this outreach, contact Steve Carlson at the Ohio Conference at (740) 397-4665, ext. 122, or email Provide financial support by sending contributions to The Ohio Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, c/o Campus Connections, P.O. Box 1230, Mount Vernon, OH 43050.