Brown University Let’s the Evangelicals Back In
After telling the Reformed University Fellowship that they wouldn’t be allowed on campus just, well, “because,” Brown University has had a change of heart. But they still haven’t been forthcoming as to why the RUF was banned in the first place.
Yesterday, Ethan Wingfield, president of the Reformed University Fellowship, said he was pleased at the Brown administration’s decision. “I think it is fantastic. It is an absolutely positive step. I’m glad we are back in contact and talking and working on a resolution.”
The campus religious group, which has about 100 members, is affiliated with Trinity Presbyterian Church, an evangelical congregation in Providence.
Restoration of the fellowship’s status as a campus group means that its members can hold meetings on campus, advertise meetings and use campus space for speakers.
While Wingfield said he was pleased with the university’s new tack, he said he is also disappointed because he believes the university wasn’t specific about why the group was suspended in the first place.
“We still haven’t been told why we were suspended,” said Wingfield.
Leaders of the group say they were given different reasons for the action. At first they were told that Trinity Presbyterian, the local sponsor, had withdrawn support, which it had not, according to the Rev. David Sherwood, Trinity pastor.
Then they were told that it was because the group’s former leader had been late in submitting the paperwork required to be established as a campus organization. The third reason given, according to fellowship leaders, was the most puzzling, they said. The Rev. Allen Callahan, Protestant chaplain, asserted they were “possessed of a leadership culture of contempt and dishonesty that has rendered all collegial relations with my office impossible.”
…The Rev. Ms. Cooper Nelson has laid out four steps that the fellowship must take to be reinstated, including filing forms on time and communicating with “full transparency” to the Rev. Mr. Callahan.
Wingfield said the standards set by the Rev. Ms. Cooper Nelson are not onerous and are pretty much what is expected of other campus organizations which seek university sanction and use of university facilities. “All we want to do is be on campus,” said Wingfield, who said the fellowship is looking forward to reinstatement, “as soon as we can get this resolved.”
Kudos to the RUF for sticking it out. If they hadn’t gone public, I think Brown would have been happy to have swept it under the rug. Of course, given this outcome, I now wonder whether it is the RUF or the University that was “possessed of a leadership culture of contempt and dishonesty.”