Samford University has announced a new Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) minister that will be serving students on campus through faith and fellowship.
RUF is the college ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), with ministries on 158 US college campuses and ministries worldwide. It was established on Samford’s campus in 2003.
Ben Griffith became the new RUF minister for Samford in August. Before coming to Samford, Griffith served as assistant pastor at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Franklin, TN. Prior to Cornerstone, he served as the youth minister, then associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Hattiesburg.
“What I want to do is get to know the campus and get to know the culture and rhythms and feel, get to know people inside of RUF, outside of RUF, and hopefully become a trusted resource and presence on campus,” Griffith said. “Our goal, is that students are getting to know Jesus either for the first time or growing in their relationship during college and being equipped to know Him, love Him and serve Him for a whole lifetime.”
RUF operates through three avenues of ministry: large groups, small groups and one-on-ones.
“The large group piece is an important part; that’s the main, central gathering,” Griffith commented. “But what you really want to be doing is just sitting with people and talking about their lives, and Jesus, and how God’s at work. You get to do a lot of that in RUF and I love doing that.”
Griffith got involved in RUF as a college student, but even before that, his parents met through it.
“RUF has been part of the air that I breathe for a long time. My parents met at the very first RUF in 1973 at the University of Southern Mississippi. Right as RUF became a ministry 50 years ago, my parents were college students at the campus where it was being launched,” Griffith shared.
“As I was growing up, they would talk about their time in RUF and what it meant to them when they were in college, and so when I was in college, I sought out RUF as well. That’s how I met Rebecca, my wife,” he continued.
Griffith and his wife Rebecca moved with their three children to Birmingham from Franklin, TN this summer.
“I know what that meant for me, getting to watch older people that could just be honest and set an example of what it looks like to stumble towards Jesus imperfectly as spouses and as parents, and then inviting me into that. That’s what we really hope to do as well,” Griffith said.
He preaches during RUF Samford’s “large group” on Tuesday nights and meets with students throughout the year. He works alongside RUF staff member Maggie Aldin and RUF intern Joy Chamberlain throughout the week.
Together, Griffith and Aldin discussed and planned out the 2023 fall semester, asking questions to consider how best to serve the student community on campus
“What do we think students need,” asked Griffith. “Where is the campus and the group right now? What has resonated before and what do we think will resonate this year? And how can we take the group further, where we see them growing or being challenged?”
Griffith hopes to serve the Samford community in ways that will have lasting impacts on their faith and fellowship journeys.
“We want students by the time they graduate college to have a foundation, to understand the importance of the local church and to understand the gospel in such a way that they see the church as non-negotiable,” Griffith shared. “It’s both about this moment in college, but it’s also about something that’s much bigger. It’s not just about creating particular experiences for students right now in college or trying to have the biggest group; we’re keeping our eyes on the big picture of people’s lives.”