Feet in the Vineyard: A Blue Devil turns orange
A native son of Charleston, Justin Hare is a scratch golfer. Good enough to play varsity golf for Duke University — and potentially play on the PGA Tour. His plans, however, began to veer off the rails when his Anglican upbringing took root in high school and God knocked on his door.
“I had always considered myself a decent person,” he says. “I tend to be fairly introverted and a hard worker. I made good grades and I wasn’t a big tester of boun
daries. In high school, God helped me realize it wasn’t about outside appearances and achievements — it’s about the inside, where my heart was filled with earthly wants and desire.”
“My heart,” he continues, “was penetrated not just with the love of Christ, but my need for saving.”
With Christ now at the center of his life, Justin believed it was his calling to serve God in the realm of professional golf. But this began to change around junior year of college and he knew his passion for the Gospel would play a role in his future.
Upon graduation from Duke in 2009, Justin entered a year-long youth ministry internship program with the Diocese of South Carolina, during which he met his future wife, Molly. After finishing that internship, he became the youth minister at the church where he grew up, St. Michael’s Church.
“What started out as a test run in youth ministry,” he says, “quickly became something I felt the Lord was calling me into long-term. I loved sharing the Good News with students.”
As God began to nudge him towards ordained ministry, Justin recalled the advice clergy often give those discerning their decision: “If you can do anything besides ordained ministry, do it.” He knew there were other areas in which he could succeed, but also knew “something would be missing.” He realized what he must do: Seek ordination and proclaim the Gospel full-time.
His wife simply stated, “It’s about time.”
After graduating from seminary, an alarming statistic put Justin and his family on their current course: According to research by the well-respected Barna Group, 60-70 percent of active youth in church will leave the faith in college. Active youth!
“My friend (Rev.) Luke Rasmussen is the assistant pastor at Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church in Clemson,” says Justin,” and we started dreaming about what an Anglican college ministry in the Clemson area could look like. As Anglicans, we worship through a liturgy and have a variety of traditions other denominations do not. To be able to engage students on campus in their specific tradition is vital.”
“The town of Clemson falls within the Diocese of the Carolinas and Christ the Redeemer is their only Anglican presence,” continues Justin. “Having done youth ministry in the Lowcountry, I know that there are Anglican students from all over America coming to Clemson, but upon arrival find there is no campus ministry in their tradition. To encounter other students raised in the same specific denomination might well put them at ease and lead to a continuation of their involvement in the church.”
When asked to expound on how this campus ministry would be different than others, Justin stated: “Most campus ministries (including the one I attended in college) tend to put emphasis on the meetings where college students come together. Luke and I think this is important but we also want to see students integrated into the full life of the church — a ministry where students serve alongside older and younger members of Christ the Redeemer on Sunday and throughout the week.”
“We want to see college students meeting with a mentor family for dinner or grabbing coffee with a member of the congregation during the week to study God’s word together. The only way for these kinds of relationships to happen organically is to stress the centrality of the local church. Our dreams and discussions were invigorating but the logistical and realistic ‘how-do-we-get-this-started,-rooted-and-sustained’ question had us brainstorming in all kinds of directions.”
A major turn of events for Justin and Luke’s dreams becoming a reality occurred when they discovered the Coalition for Christian Outreach (the CCO), a ministry organization based out of Pittsburgh. It is a cross-denominational ministry that aligns closely with their vision of calling college students to serve Jesus Christ in every area of their lives.
CCO made sense. Instead of reinventing the wheel and starting an Anglican college ministry from scratch, both Christ the Redeemer and Justin decided it would be best to partner with the CCO. As a result, CCO provided training, support, mission outreach, an annual conference gathering and a plethora of knowledge about reaching the lost, the lonely, the least and the left out on the college campus.
“It’s been said,” adds Justin, “that if you want to know the culture ten years from now, go to a college campus today. Unfortunately, most Christians making that visit won’t be thrilled with what they see. But it’s important to remember — while college can be a time when students drift from the faith, it can also be a time for them to grow exponentially in it. The unique challenges of college ministry, I think, suit me quite well. I love helping students wade through the big questions of life by looking at the Scriptures with them.”
There is precedent for success in this type of ministry: Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) is the denominational college ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). At Clemson University alone, 15 years of RUF produced 180 pastors, 80 deacons and 30 missionaries. It is Justin’s goal to match these successes and create a leadership pipeline for the future of Anglican churches in North America.
“This ministry will be a family calling,” says Justin. “My wife, Molly, will be working alongside of me and our children — Graceanna and Lawrence — will see our home being made wide open as a haven of hospitality and care for those we are mentoring.”
There is no funding in place for the Hare family’s ministry, so they turned to a third party, the Coalition for Christian Outreach, to develop and appropriate package including salary, health benefits and ministry budget.
“The idea of raising the money can be overwhelming,” says Justin, “but if we’re walking the path God wants us on, the money will come.”
Just like this writer’s beloved alma mater, Auburn University (sometimes known as Clemson without a lake), Clemson University is well known for working the soil to produce hundred-fold crops. Although Justin and his wife Molly will not be teaching courses in “Ag,” they will be teaching courses in “Jesus.” We hope Anglican readers of the Compass will support them with prayers and finances.
To learn more about the ministry and financial needs, contact Justin; by phone at (843) 478-3443 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Final Note: Justin Hare skillfully dodged questions regarding Clemson vs. Duke sporting events, although we believe his loyalties regarding golf matches will remain Blue.