Chapter 1: A College Crisis
Rick Howe grew up in a Christian home and was thoroughly “churched” through the years. You might think that this would have prepared him for his experience at a major public university and the challenges to Christian faith he would encounter there. It did not. In his own words:
“College was a major turning point in my life. In the fall of my freshman year I signed up for a slate of general education courses. I had no idea what I was in for, but I encountered opposition to Christianity in every class I took. I discovered the painful truth that not only did I not have answers, I didn’t even know the questions.
“The challenges seemed to come from every class: cultural relativism in sociology; behaviorism in psychology, evolution in biology; Jesus-the-myth and all-religions-are-the-same in religious studies; the problem of evil in philosophy.
“Just three months into my university experience I dropped out – lost, confused, and angry at my church for hiding these issues from me. I embraced my own version of Cartesian skepticism, doubting everything except what I thought I had good reason to believe. The starting point of my intellectual quest was mere theism: belief in a Creator who envisioned our universe and brought it into being. Everything else about the Christian faith that I had been taught, I doubted or rejected.”
To read the rest of Rick’s story and learn how this crisis eventually led to a unique and fruitful ministry at the University of Colorado and has shaped Centers for Christian Study, visit his website: www.rickhowe.org.
Chapter 2: Dayspring Center for Christian Studies
In 1983 Dayspring Center for Christian Studies opened its doors in the shadow of the University of Colorado to bring Christian perspectives to the life and academic pursuits of a major university community. Since then, under the leadership of Rick Howe, hundreds of students have taken courses in Christian studies that have been approved for transfer credit by the University of Colorado. Hundreds more have lived in Dayspring’s student residential communities, and many more have participated in Study Center programs and events.
For more than twenty years Dayspring offered courses as an extension site for Denver Seminary. In 2004 the Center entered into a partnership with Northwestern College of St. Paul, Minnesota. New Study Centers were launched in Fort Collins and Greeley, Colorado with transfer credit arrangements with Colorado State University and the University of Northern Colorado.
Chapter 3: Centers for Christian Study International
At its high water mark the Dayspring Centers leased five former Greek houses with 150 students living and learning in Christian community.
With successful prototypes and a vision of influencing university communities across the United States and abroad, Dayspring changed its name to Centers for Christian Study International (CCSI) and the Study Centers in Colorado became the first of what was hoped would be many Study Centers to come.
Not long after, a series of calamities struck. Although we had enjoyed long-term contracts on the buildings that accommodated our residential communities, and we filled the houses every year, we lost them all: two to a Landlord’s financial crisis and looming bankruptcy; one to a demolition and construction of luxury student apartments, one to a sale to a Greek organization, and one to a lease to a for-profit group. (We have learned invaluable lessons from this for the acquisition of facilities!)
This led to a profound sense of urgency to call and wait upon the Lord for the disclosure of his plans and purposes for our ministry. Though the process has been painful in many ways, you can see the exciting results of this pause for direction in the rest of this website.
Chapter 4: University Ministries
April 2017 marked a new chapter in our story. We changed our name from Centers for Christian Study International to University Ministries, and reorganized with three ministry divisions: Academy, Residential Community, and Campus Ministry. Actually, this isn’t a dramatic change. We are simply re-structuring and re-branding things we have been doing all along and now hope to do in greater ways.
The mission of CCSI was always a mouth-full: “To establish and maintain Christian study centers adjacent to major research institutions in the United States and abroad for the purpose of engaging the university community in serious thinking and discussion of the Christian worldview and all of its implications for life and thought.”
As much as we love Study Centers, they are a means to another, far greater end. What we want more than anything is to influence university students and faculty for Christ, pointing them to him, and seeking to champion, promote, nurture, and cultivate a life of discipleship to him.
We’ve changed our mission statement. Now it is: “to inspire and nurture a thoughtful pursuit of Christ one student, one professor, one university at a time.” All three of our ministry divisions are devoted to this mission. This is a much better fit for the fruitful ministry God has given us over the years, and a matrix from which other possibilities may well find life.