A parking lot located between OU's Greek life and the residence halls will soon become the new site of the Baptist Collegiate Ministries' student center.
The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma acquired the parking lot at 1203 Elm Ave. through a “land trade” with OU that had been in the works for several years, OU press secretary Matt Epting said in an email.
The trade also involved OU’s 2014 $1.6 million purchase of the Baptist Collegiate Ministries' student center property at 435 W. Boyd St., according to a press release from the convention. The property is currently home to OU student parking and green spaces, Epting said in the email.
As part of the trade, the convention acquired only two-thirds of the Elm Avenue property and is leasing the other third from the university.
Epting said other privately-operated student ministry facilities have existed adjacent to OU's campus for decades, and the new BCM building will be no different.
Brian Hobbs, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma communications director, said the former BCM building had become unusable, and leaders within the ministry had begun praying for a chance to move locations when the opportunity arrived.
“Having a large meeting space that’s a first-class facility really will be vital to the mission and purpose of the group, and we could not have hoped for or dreamed of or prayed for a better location,” Hobbs said.
The new location of the building is ideal, Hobbs said, because it places the ministry right in the center of student housing, allowing it to reach an estimated group of over 6,000 students.
“The purpose of our ministry is to connect with students and build community,” Hobbs said. “There are a lot of students that will be in proximity to where this building will be.”
Bronson Baker, Baptist Collegiate Ministries staff member, said the building will offer students several new spots to study and will contain a bookstore, coffee shop and large areas for group meetings and ministry services.
“We’ll have a lot of space that we’ll want to be able to use for us but also to open up for students,” Baker said. “I graduated from OU before I went on staff, and there are some times when it’s impossible to find places to study.”
The construction crew began breaking ground on the lot Jan. 25, Baker said, and the goal is to have the building finished by the fall of 2018.
Hobbs said the Baptist Collegiate Ministries has had a presence on OU’s campus since the 1920s and that he and others involved with the ministry are excited to be moving to a location where they can reach more people.
“A lot of people have supported this and prayed about it for years, and to see it coming together is just very exciting,” Hobbs said.