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RUF at UTSA: A ministry years in the making

June 06 2017
June 06 2017

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Reformed University Fellowship will launch a ministry on the campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio this fall with Curtis Castleberry as campus minister. Curtis and Castleberrys Marian Castleberry have longstanding connections to Redeemer San Antonio, and this ministry milestone brings several threads of the Castleberry's story and Redeemer's mission in the city full circle.

Curtis and Marian's path into ministry began before they were married. Curtis attended Baptist University of the Americas and majored in theology for his undergraduate degree. There he met then-BUA professor Victor Martinez, now RPC Associate Pastor of Mission and Cultural Engagement. Victor had a large influence on Curtis' growing interest in Reformed theology. When Victor joined the pastoral staff at Redeemer, the Castleberrys, who married in 2009, began attending RPC.

While attending Redeemer Seminary in Austin, Curtis was offered an apprenticeship through the Hispanic Leadership Initiative, one of Redeemer's ministry partners which seeks to raise up Latino ministry leaders in the PCA. Curtis worked closely alongside Victor Martinez and Westover Hills Assistant Pastor Manny Alaniz, an experieince he describes as formative for his approach to ministry and introduction to the structure of the PCA. Since graduating from seminary, the Castleberrys have served in two PCA churches, one a multi-cultural church in El Paso and the other a majority-Hispanic, bilingual congregation in Houston.

Meanwhile, the session of Redeemer had begun praying for an opportunity for RUF to come to UTSA. With 28,000 students, UTSA serves an extraordinary cross-section of San Antonio and attracts many mid-career and first-generation college students in addition to traditional college students. UTSA's diversity and representation of San Antonio's demographics make campus ministry there a strategic link in Redeemer's vision to be an anchor church equipping many ministries to reach the city with the Gospel.

Over time, Redeemer entered into conversations with leadership at Reformed University Ministries indicating a commitment to support RUF at UTSA and began setting aside funding for the work. Since 2015, Redeemer has put $25,000 toward bringing RUF to UTSA and will continue on with annual financial support.

The years of prayer and planning culminated this year in a formal search process for a campus minister for RUF at UTSA.

Curtis says when he looks back now, he can see how the seeds of his work with RUF at UTSA were planted long ago. One of Curtis' first jobs after college was with a non-profit youth organization on the West side of San Antonio. In that role, Curtis took groups of middle school students to tour UTSA, hoping to encourage them to stay in school and pursue college educations. Several of those students have stayed in touch and are now students at UTSA. They will be among the Castleberry's first contacts on the campus.

As early as 2013, Curtis felt a pull toward UTSA and campus ministry, but could not see a path into it. Seeing the doors open for such a work four years later has affirmed his sense of calling to this particular place and ministry.

"As soon as the door for RUF opened up, I thought 'Lord, is that you?'" he says. "We are a Hispanic family, and this work at UTSA is strategic in that RUF wants to place a Hispanic or bicultural person on the campus because it is a diverse campus and majority Hispanic. And we of course have a vision and a passion for ministry to the Hispanic community. That's where our heartbeat is, and that's what attracts me to college ministry, is that you have a bunch of different people together and the only division between them is potentially the different majors they might be in."

RUF at UTSA will have support and close connections with new PCA church plant Trinity Grace Church, led by Michael and Rachel Novak, who have recently concluded seven years of campus ministry with RUF at Trinity University.

Redeemer hopes the congregation will join in rejoicing with and praying for the Castleberrys and that the Gospel would reach many through RUF at UTSA! The Castleberrys are now in the process of raising support for this work. If you are interested in partnering with them, you may contact Curtis (Curtis.castleberry@ruf.org).


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