In 1984, at the Pleasant View Church of Christ, a vision for campus ministry at nearby Tri-State University was born, which in 2008 became Trine University. Several ministers from the Churches of Christ / Christian Churches in the Tri-State area took the first steps toward the vision by asking Dr. Gary Hawes, the Executive Director of the Michigan Christian Campus Ministries in East Lansing, Michigan, to start a campus ministry at Trine. Gary, along with members of his staff, came to Trine on Wednesdays to contact students and organize a Bible study. A steering committee was formed to provide stability and direction.
It was suggested that one of the ministers living near the Trine campus take over the work on a part-time basis. Reggie Reed accepted the call with the approval of the leadership at the Metz Christian Church. Reggie and his wife, Sarah, continued contacting and inviting students to come together for a Bible study and prayer.
In 1986, Reggie contacted a gracious Christian lady, Mrs. Florence Wilson, about using her home near campus as a site for Bible studies. It was hoped that the students could come on Tuesday nights for “a Bible study and a home-cooked meal.” The idea was a success, and this program continues, now held Monday nights and referred to as our family dinner. Many of the area churches presently provide either family dinners or weekly snacks after the mid-week meeting.
From its small beginnings, good things continued to happen. The first Campus House was purchased in December 1988 from Mrs. Wilson. Soon after, her adjacent house at 406 South College Street was also made available to the ministry. These two houses have been used twenty-four hours a day to house students in a Christian atmosphere, accommodate the ministry’s office, and provide a venue for the weekly fellowship meetings.
After two years of foundational service to CCH, Reggie Reed turned the coordination of the ministry over to Dennis Steckley in 1987. Howard Bloomquist then followed in 1988 and Mike Hamm in 1990. All made significant contributions to God’s work at the university.
Upon Mike Hamm’s departure in 1994, the Board of Directors made a faith-filled decision to call Randy Dunning to be the first CCH full-time campus minister. Randy led the Tuesday night fellowship meetings along with other Bible studies, prayer meetings, work trips, spring break missions trips, and retreat ventures. He also regularly represented CCH to its supporting churches and organizations.
When Randy began in 1994, large group meetings attendance averaged less than twenty students per week. However, by the fall of 1997 those same meetings had an average attendance in the high 30s. In 1998, the large group meeting moved nights and venues: Wednesday night at Witmer Clubhouse. From Fall 1998 through Spring 2001, meeting attendance remained in the low 40s.
In 1997, Randy sought volunteer administrative assistance from Janet Warstler, and in 1999 the Board of Directors hired her to work part-time to perform various ministry tasks. Upon Janet’s retirement in 2012, Pam Dick stepped up to the job of Special Event Coordinator. In 2017, Pam retired from her position and Carolyn Childress came on staff as the new Events Coordinator.
With the ministry growing numerically, the Board of Directors decided to hire Travis Wilhelm as the Associate Campus Minister in August of 2000. Two staff members had increased the ministry’s relationships with both students and supporters.
One year later, after Randy’s resignation, the Board of Directors appointed Travis as the new Director of Campus Ministry. He continues in the efforts of leading students in evangelizing and discipling the Trine University community.
Women’s Ministry was led by Cheryl Wilhelm and various female students from 1999 until 2007. In 2007, both Travis and the Board of Directors were led to expand the staff by hiring Robyn (Hinkle) Klepfer as the Women’s Director and Administrative Assistant. Robyn created a fruitful ministry in the four years she was on staff. Heather (Stennett) Miller followed her as the Women’s Intern and faithfully served the ministry. In 2011, CCH hired Rachel Woods, who served as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator/Administrative Assistant from 2011-2014. Alyssa Wallace took over in 2014, doing women’s ministry until their baby arrived in 2016. Jessica (Riemesch) Allen came on in the summer of 2016 and currently ministers to the women on campus. Women’s ministry has proven to be an ever-increasing part of the work the Lord has for his workers here at Trine University.
In response to that growing ministry, the Lord provided the opportunity to acquire a Girls’ House in 2011. Over the course of 52 days, the 80,000 dollars necessary were provided through the generosity of Christ’s followers connected with the ministry. Now, the women of CCH have a place for housing, hangouts, and ministry to take place, ultimately increasing CCH’s ability to reach out to students and impact their faith.
As the ministry grew and new ministry opportunities continued to be made available the Board knew it was time to begin praying for God to raise up an Associate Campus Minister. In 2014, Jordan Childress, after spending a year as the ministry intern, came on staff full-time.
With the university growing and expanding, Witmer Clubhouse has been torn down. So, in 2016, our worship service has found a new home in Fabiani Theater, right in the middle of campus. This event plays host to over 100 students each week and you can now join us from wherever you are by live streaming our service. Check it out on our website Tuesdays at 7pm from our “Watch Online” link.
God continues to provide more and more opportunities on campus and we are excited to see what the future hold for CCH.