TWU's Student Ministries Director garners award for excellence in 'Spiritual Formation'

As the Director of Student Ministries, Rhea has served in TWU's Student Life Division since 1996, and was recently recognized for his outstanding contribution to students' spiritual formation with the CCCU's Dana Walling Award for Excellence in Campus Ministry.

The award was established just this year, in memory of Dana Walling who served as Vice President for Spiritual Formation at Point Luoma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA, until he passed away from cancer three years ago. Walling's fifteen-year service at PLNU was instrumental in shaping a cohort of God-centred students, and the award was created to recognize individuals who currently exemplify this type of leadership. Rhea is the first recipient of the award, along with Keith Anderson, the Director of Spiritual Formation at Northwestern College in Iowa who was also recognized this year.

Rhea was surprised but delighted to receive the award in front of more than eighty campus ministry directors at this year's CCCU Conference in Mesa, CA. “The CCCU is honouring outstanding achievement in campus ministry,” he says, explaining the award's significance. “They've seen how TWU's Student Ministries programs are fostering spiritual growth in the lives of students, and are affirming it by way of this award.”

Though grateful to accept the award, Rhea is quick to credit to his colleagues in the Student Ministries department. “I'm aware that I was the one chosen to receive the award, but to large degree this is a reflection of what we do as a Student Ministries Team here at TWU,” he says. “And even beyond that, it reflects the Student Life Division and the culture of our entire campus—working out the mission to produce godly leaders and disciples of Jesus Christ.”

Explaining why he was recognized with the award, Rhea describes his role as Director of Student Ministries and illustrates how it relates to the department's underlying philosophy. “My purpose is to foster spiritual growth in three areas: the upward life which includes our response to God in worship, the outward life which encompasses our relationships with other people, and the inward life which focuses on understanding our identity as disciples of Christ. We're working to maintain a Christ-centred community where these things are happening together synergistically.”

Rhea also emphasizes how working to actualize TWU's well-defined mission helped bring home the award. “I'm often surprised at how few organizations have developed a well-thought out, clearly articulated plan for spiritual formation,” remarks Rhea. “And that's why TWU is a leader in the field. The people here have gone to great lengths to understand and express just what it is we're doing—developing godly Christian leaders.”

In addition to his responsibilities at TWU, Rhea serves as chairman on the CCCU's Commission for Campus Ministry, coordinating national meetings and setting up audit groups that assess and make recommendations to campus ministry departments at Christian universities and colleges across the continent. This summer, Rhea will also serve on the faculty of the CCCU Summer Institute for Leadership Development and Spiritual Formation which meets on Whidbey Island, WA.

Rhea resides in Walnut Grove with his two children and wife Sue, who is also a member of the TWU Student Life team. The two have been involved at Trinity University for over ten years, and currently co-teach a third-year level class entitled “Leadership in the Christian Community.”

Last Updated: 2015-07-20
Author: Keela Keeping