Our History

The Center for Christian Study is a Christian education and outreach organization that ministers to students, faculty, and staff at the University of Virginia, as well as to the people in and around central Virginia. Our story is just part of the grander narrative that God is telling of Christ's redemptive work in the world.

Study Center Historic Timeline

1968: Rev. Daryl Richman (1934-2019) began evangelistic work at the University of Virginia, which resulted in a number of students converted to faith in Jesus Christ. Because many of these students had little intellectual grounding in Christian tradition, they were freshly coming to understand their new faith in Christ. As they grew in their faith, some visited Francis Schaeffer’s L’Abri in Switzerland, while others attended graduate school at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. When this group of believers returned to Charlottesville, they began discussing the possibility of creating something similar to what they experienced outside the States. Faculty and townspeople helped shape Daryl’s vision of a Study Center and the search for a place to house the work began.

Daryl Richman
Daryl Richman

Early 1970s: This newly formed group under Daryl Richman rented a house on Elliewood Avenue where they hosted lectures, fellowship meetings, and other events for undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Virginia.

1976: The organization formally incorporated under the name University Christian Ministries, Inc. (UCM) and bought a 1920s house on Chancellor Street. UCM oversaw both the Center for Christian Study and Action Ministries (the evangelistic outreach started by Daryl Richman). 

Late 1970s: National para-church ministries such as Campus Crusade for Christ, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship prospered at the University with the Study Center’s support.

1980: Daryl Richman’s departure was followed by the dissolving of Action Ministries, but the main undergraduate outreach group and several graduate student fellowships continued to work out his vision. For more about Daryl's lasting impact and legacy on students and the Christian community, read Bob Voyles' eulogy and Elizabeth Shaffer's eulogy.

Mid-1980s: The ministry of the Center for Christian Study continued under Executive Director David Turner through his development of both summer and year-long programs designed to educate lay people to think theologically. These programs operated alongside the undergraduate outreach and graduate fellowship groups. 

Drew Trotter headshot
Drew Trotter

1987: One of the early leaders of Action Ministries, Drew Trotter, returned to the Center for Christian Study as the Executive Director. Under Drew’s guidance, the staff and ministry grew substantially.

1996: The Center for Christian Study expanded their building with a 5,000 square-foot addition. Completed in 1998, these building renovations enabled the Study Center to be more effective in its work by offering meeting rooms, a library, and additional office space.  

1999: A group of parents initiated the first Move-In Day Lunch to welcome incoming undergraduate students to the community of believers at UVA.

Move in day
Move-In Day Lunch

Early 2000s: The Center for Christian Study replaced its weekly undergraduate fellowship with the Elzinga Residential Scholars Program. Though initially an undergraduate male residential program, the program expanded to add women in the Yellow House next door to the Study Center. This program now operated alongside undergraduate small groups, lectures, courses, and three graduate fellowship groups: Law Christian Fellowship, Darden Christian Fellowship, and Graduate Christian Fellowship. 

Late 2000s: Rush Hospitality began at the Center for Christian Study as a way to minister to its Greek neighbors on Chancellor Street and care for women upon their return to Grounds for sorority recruitment.

Bill Wilder, Ken Elzinga, Daryl Richman, David Turner, and Drew Trotter
From left to right: Bill Wilder, Ken Elzinga, Daryl Richman, David Turner, and Drew Trotter

Today: The Center for Christian Study continues to build out of the foundation provided by Daryl Richman, Drew Trotter, and the initial group of students eager to love their peers and their community for the sake of making the gospel known. Board members and Study Center staff remain focused on the essentials of training the current generation in historic, biblical Christianity, in wise discussion of Truth, and in the juncture of culture and faith.