By Katie Gomez
A K-State fan and Southwestern alum, Steve Rankin has traded in purple and white for red, white and blue.
As campus minister and professor of religious studies for 14 years, Steve Rankin put his trust in God and made the big move from Winfield to Dallas to become the new campus chaplain at Southern Methodist University.
Rankin said, “When I turned 50, I started having this feeling that God had one more thing planned for me, but I had no idea what that was.”
In the fall of 2008, Rankin heard about the chaplain position through his connections with the Methodist Church. The job was not only to fill the position as campus chaplain, but to rebuild and develop their program.
He decided to test the waters and apply, never thinking he would actually get it. He had almost canceled the idea out until a sign came to him during a phone interview.
“I asked them why they were interested in maintaining a pretty active religious life for such a large university and the lady interviewing me said they had a spiritual hunger on campus. She said to me, ‘We’re just waiting for someone to call us forth,'” said Rankin. “It became clear to me that this was the one more thing God wanted me to do with my life,” said Rankin.
He went down to Dallas for an interview, and as time went by, assuming the position had already been filled, Rankin started shifting back to Southwestern.
The weekend of graduation, he received a phone call from SMU. After a few days of praying and deliberation, Rankin accepted the position.
With no time for goodbyes, Rankin boxed up his house and moved into a condo in the Dallas sky. He officially began work on July 1 and his wife, Joni, joined him in August.
“This is the farthest apart I’ve ever been from my children,” said Rankin. His oldest son, Luke, resides in Winfield with a son of his own. Rankin’s daughter, Leah, works in Admissions, his son, Abram, is a theater senior and his youngest son, Aaron, is a sophomore at KU. “Suddenly the pictures mean so much more than they did a few months ago. It’s going to be hard not to just get in the car and drive back every weekend. I’ll definitely miss SC and everyone here, but I know that this is what God wants me to do.”
Ashlee Alley was quick to step into Rankin’s shoes as the new campus minister. She received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Southwestern in 1998. She worked for Fellowship of Christian Athletes from 1998 to 2000 before graduating from the Asbury Theological Seminary in 2003. She then served as the assistant director of campus ministries at Asbury College until returning to Southwestern in 2005.
As the director of campus ministry and Discipleship, as well as a clergy in the United Methodist Church, it was an easy transition for Alley to take the role as campus minister.
Although her previous duties included overseeing the general ministries of the college, she can now add a few more ceremonial roles, such as leading prayers at campus events.
“Because many students identify me as primarily working with the Discipleship team, I want to be clear that I’m here in a pastoral role for the whole campus. I care about the spiritual growth of everyone. I want to make sure that we have opportunities for all of the campus to grow in their faith,” said Alley. “I want students to know that I’m praying for them and supporting them as they do their job and perhaps explore what their faith looks like while they are in college.”
Katie Gomez is a junior majoring in communication. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.