In 1966, Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) opened the doors to their building on University Drive. Now, 44 years later, this organization at The University of Texas-Pan American begins a new year with a new and improved building.
Students can now find BSM located on the corner of Sugar Rd. and Schunior St., across from the Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex. Robert Rueda, BSM director, said that this building appears to be at a more accessible location.
In addition to safety concerns, BSM was also affected by space issues. According to Rueda, they were already at full capacity at their University Drive location. Therefore, their new building was designed as an open space in order to accommodate more students.
"Our doors are open to all students regardless," Rueda said. "So because we hold numerous student events and many students join us, a newer and more spacious building was important."
The new building also has many new features available to students, such as wireless internet, multi-media equipment, flat screen televisions, computers, a kitchen and "journey" rooms that can be used for study groups, bible study or small meetings. Students can also enjoy recreational activities such as ping pong and foosball. According to Rueda, much of this was achieved with cooperation and help from others.
BSM is part of a larger national organization, in conjunction with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The UTPA organization and the convention are funded by churches from all over the state of Texas. As a result, the funding for their new building came in two parts, one from the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the other from the Rio Grande Valley Baptist Association. The property to the former BSM site was also sold in order to purchase the new property. All furnishings for the building came from churches in Texas and individual donations.
"All of this was possible with the help we received and through prayer," Rueda said.
BSM first became an organization at UTPA in 1955 when it was still Pan American College.
"We are very grateful for the support we have received from UTPA," Rueda said. "They have always been very accommodating."
Since its founding, BSM has focused on serving community organizations such as Buckner Family Services and Mujeres Unidas. The also have a partnership with Edinburg Children's Hospital. In addition, they serve local nursing homes and churches.
On campus, the goal of BSM is to help students discover how God can serve in their lives and how they can be good students. According Rueda, students in BSM also have the opportunity of participating in mission trips locally or as far away as Africa, Asia or Spain.
"We always tell students that it is not an accident that they're in college, so therefore they need to be good students and use their lives to influence and serve others," Rueda said.
BSM currently has 35 leaders. Approximately 150 students join them weekly for an event they call "Free Lunch." Rueda said they are always looking for new members and welcome everyone.
BSM will hold their grand opening on Feb.19 at 7 p.m.
For more information, call 956-383-7491 or visit "http://www.bsmatutpa.org.