A Gospel Culture on Campus

by Douglas E. Baker September 3, 2018

Hundreds of students at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) live with the life and influence of an Anglican minister every day, and few of them realize it. First erected in 1919, a statue of Rev. George Whitefield stands in the Quadrangle (the Quad) just in front of the Morris and Bodine sections of the present Ware College House. Whitefield, once a internationally famous Oxford educated minister, regularly preached in a meeting house at Fourth and Arch streets in Philadelphia, and his lifelong friend, Benjamin Franklin, was so taken with his intellectual abilities, he published his sermons and encouraged many students at the Academy of Philadelphia (a forerunner to the University of Pennsylvania) to listen to him preach. This open-air preacher played a key role in the establishment of Penn. 

“The church of Jesus Christ stands as a counter-culture to the modern campus culture,” stated Jared Cochrum, the new College Ministry Director at Tenth Presbyterian Church. “We aren’t naïve about the challenges we face as a church nestled near some of the finest colleges and universities in the world,” Jared said. Well aware that many of the college students who come to church on Sunday or attend a Bible study during the week are often wounded and carrying around deep scars that only the gospel of Jesus Christ can heal, Jared is committed to establishing a “one-on-one” with the Bible as the source for clarity and healing. 

More than 100,000 college students reside within a three-mile radius of Tenth Presbyterian Church. Jared believes this fact alone makes the university campus a strategic mission field of great consequence for the church of Jesus Christ, and he has committed his life to investing in the lives of students who face significant challenges when it comes to the core doctrines of Christianity. “I am not unaware that the Bible is often caricatured as a relic of the past with no power for the present,” he said. “But I am certain the Bible can withstand the scrutiny of anyone who sincerely desires to know and understand the truth of its contents.” 

Jared comes to Tenth from Chicago, Ilinois, where he studied at Wheaton College and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Originally, he had no desire to enter the ministry as he was an Applied Health Sciences major at Wheaton College. A weekly Bible study with a friend changed his focus. “A friend took me through a verse-by-verse study of the book of Hebrews, and it opened my mind and heart to understand the power of the person of Jesus Christ and his care for his church.” 

“To this day, I still approach the Bible and theology with a scientific lens,” he said. “The Bible is clear in its contents and reveals truth in ways that are understandable and logical.” Tenth’s College Fellowship (TCF) is built on the foundation that believes encounters with the Bible in the context of the local church is the path toward understanding the gospel and living in fellowship with Christ and his people. “I want students at Penn and Drexel and Temple and other universities to know the power of Christian preaching and Christian fellowship in a local church,” Jared said. 

Jared’s ministry model is none other than the Lord Jesus himself who lived among people and taught them and loved them so that those in darkness might turn to the light of the gospel. “I believe the Holy Spirit is the greatest evangelist, and he is working to bring people to the Lord Jesus in ways that will build the church and extend the truth of God to college students,” he said. “This is my prayer for the work of Tenth’s College Fellowship to the glory of Christ and his church.”