In 1969, Ken Rudolph (’75, ’98) arrived at Clarks Summit University. He walked into Dorm No. 2 (now Shaffer Hall) and met Charlie Ware (’72), who introduced himself as Rudolph’s resident assistant.
More than 50 years later, a scholarship has been set up to honor the two men and their friendship.
Ware said his earliest memories of Rudolph were his smile, sense of humor, authenticity, deep love for God and compassion for others. “Ken is a joy to be around,” said Ware. “We had a lot of time of fellowship in the dorm and those early years of ministry. We talked about the Bible and spiritual life. We prayed together, laughed together, cried together.”
“The day I stepped foot on campus, I met Charlie Ware,” Rudolph said. “It became obvious that he was someone who loved God. I knew this was a man of character, and I wanted to be his friend. Hopefully, what ties friends together is the level of character that you see in each other. Charlie and I had that. God knit our hearts together.”
The men served in numerous ministries including Deer Trail Ranch and a basketball outreach ministry. They shared a humorous memory of their involvement in a singing group. During their years at CSU Rudolph and Ware started a group called The Golden Shields with fellow student, Bob Homan.
“The crazy thing about it, is I can’t sing!” Ware said, laughing. “We’d go out, and they would have me do the “Oooo” part. I could preach, but I couldn’t sing. I tell Ken he got my music career started, but it sure didn’t go too far.”
Rudolph chuckled at the memory. “Oh, yes. Charlie couldn’t even do the ‘Oooo’ in tune. We were terrible,” Rudolph said. “It’s no wonder no one asked us back.”
Another funny memory in the early years of their friendship include a night that Ware cooked dinner for Rudolph and some friends.
“I remember saying to them, ‘I’ve never seen such petite chicken bones like this in my life,’” Rudolph said. “They all started laughing, and Charlie said, ‘Ruddy, you just ate squirrel!’ We were all poor bachelors, and they had to hunt to eat. We had a great laugh.”
Ware was part of a church plant in Scranton that became Revival Baptist Church. He served as the church’s first pastor, and Rudolph became one of his deacons.
“In those early years, I saw Charlie relying on the providence of God,” Rudolph said. “I learned so much about God and ministry during that time…Charlie never complained. He was content in whatever state God put him in. He was willing to do whatever had to be done to complete the call of God on His life. To be a friend with a man of that quality and to serve with him was such a privilege.”
The men worked hard to reach the lost in the inner city and serve the Body of Christ. There was opposition when issues of race arose, both from the public and the Christian community. Ware stuck it out in Scranton and was faithful. God blessed, and the ministry grew.
Later, both men would serve at churches in Maryland. They continued to see a need for change in the Christian community. Issues of racism, inequity and disunity among believers led Ware to form “The Voice of Biblical Reconciliation” with Rudolph and others. Through purposeful discussions with believers, Ware encouraged Christians to exchange conversations between “us and them” for “us and us.”
Rudolph and Ware share a friendship and a long history of faithfulness in ministry, a passion for lost souls and a deep understanding of what it means to work for unity when it comes to race relations.
Ware started a school in Maryland and later pastored a church in Indiana. He went on to become president of Crossroads Bible College of Indianapolis. He served on numerous boards and has written and spoken around the world on issues of race and unity. He co-authored the book “One Race, One Blood” with Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. Ware founded Grace Relations, which exists to equip pastors and other Christian workers to engage in meaningful conversation and collaboration to bridge racial, ethnic and cultural divides.
Rudolph served in youth ministry for churches in Maryland and Virginia before returning to CSU to become director of recruitment. He also served as director of advancement at Lake Ann Camp. He is a biblical, relevant and powerful speaker at churches, schools and camps throughout America and Europe and served with ABWE’s Mobilization Team.
In 2020, Rudolph’s son, Chris, approached CSU with a desire to set up a scholarship to honor his dad and Ware and draw attention to the need for relationships between believers that span ethnic and cultural divides.
Chris Rudolph worked for CSU in the past as financial manager and director for the BBC Foundation. He is the director of investments for UNC Management Company. “I wanted to form this scholarship to honor these men of godly character and highlight their friendship,” Chris Rudolph said. “We’ve had some great fellowship between our two families. These graduates of CSU are godly men who have had a huge impact on my life. They are a good example of allowing their connection and identity in Christ to be the highest unifier.”
The first Rudolph and Ware Scholarships were awarded in April to Ashley Velasquez and Kyden Cash for the 2021–22 school year. They were presented formally on Alumni Day, October 1, after hearing messages from Rudolph and Ware.
Through tears, Rudolph recalled to the chapel audience, “When I arrived here 52 years ago, Charlie Ware was my RA. I grew up on a farm with just white people. I didn’t know any black people. I soon found out Charlie was someone who loved Jesus and probably was the most godly man on campus. We all looked up to him. Everybody wanted to be Charlie Ware’s friend. He was a real leader. He loved Jesus so much…I learned ministry from him.”
Ware followed by adding, “Ken Rudolph’s love for God—his humility—affected me. We were walking together, looking to Jesus. I am touched by [this scholarship] in a very unique way…Chris Rudolph, the next generation, says he saw something in his father and in me that motivated him to create this scholarship. To me that’s incredible. People ask me all the time: ‘What can we do about racial reconciliation?’ I’ll simply say this: be the example.”
“In the midst of the divisions and racial strife in our country at that time, I met Ken,” Ware said. “In 1968 when I stepped foot on campus, Martin Luther King Jr had just been assassinated, and our country was going through civil rights struggles. But in the midst of that environment, the grace of God through the Spirit of God gave Ken and I a common love for God and brought us together to create and cement a relationship where we cared for God, His glory and worked to advance His kingdom. To have a black and white friendship that has only grown over the years is something very special and a testament to what the grace of God can do.”
by Julie Jeffery Manwarren