It’s an exciting time to be part of the Wesley Center! As many of you know better than us, campus ministry can change from year to year, each year we learn as much as we can and pray for whatever new things will come our way the next semester. Because of that we are so encouraged as we look back at the 2018/2019 school year and look forward to 2019/2020.
To the left you’ll see a graphic with information about the different areas of ministry and care that students engaged in, and the majority of these students were new to the Wesley Center! Now many of these students don’t identify as United Methodists, a few don’t even identify as Christians, and we know that many of you may not see them because they don’t attend Collegiate on Sunday mornings. Don’t worry! There’s still lots of ways you can support them and the Wesley Center!
The 2019/2020 school year is already off to an amazing start. We believe that small groups are the best place for students to experience a sense of belonging and God’s unconditional love, where they grow the most in their faith and where they are truly transformed to change the world. Because of that we have made small groups the core of our programming. This can be difficult because a small group is a weekly commitment in the already busy lives of our students, it requires that they participate in study, conversation, prayer and service. If we have a student engaged in a small group, they’re actively engaged at Wesley. This semester we have 4 small groups and 45 students signed up for them (25 are NEW to the Wesley Center)!
We are also continuing to offer a monthly option for students so our whole community can gather together, invite new people to join us with low commitment and give students a chance to check us out. This semester we’re talking about Jesus. We’re taking a deeper look at who Jesus was and highlighting some of the attributes that we don’t always talk about in church. In September we talked about Jesus as a rebel, in October we will talk about Jesus not being white and in November we’ll talk about Jesus as a feminist. Students are intrigued and have enjoyed discussing these views of Jesus and how it impacts who we are and how we live in the world.
In October we also offer a retreat for students who want to get more involved with Wesley. Last year this was a pivotal time for many students as they gained a sense of community and belongingness while more deeply exploring their spirituality. Look for photos and recap next month!
As we have grown in number we have also found that the need for students to connect with Wesley staff is vital. You’ll see that last year Jen had over 35 one-on-one meetings with students who needed support, counseling or help with vocational discernment. This semester, with 3 weeks of school, we have met with 12 students and have others scheduled already.
Right now there are a few ways you can support this ministry as we move forward: one way to is give financially, supporting the Wesley Center with your financial gifts assures that there will continue to be a progressive, inclusive campus ministry at ISU regardless of funding from the conference, another fun way is to donate a Starbucks giftcard to enable us to provide care and caffeine to students throughout the year, and finally, your prayers can’t be underestimated. We have had so many moments this semester where we have seen how God has worked in a student’s life to bring them to Wesley, or where returning students have gushed about how important the Wesley Center was to them last year. Part of that is programming, part of it is hard work, but the biggest part is relationships: relationships with God, relationships with each other, and relationships in prayer as you all pray for students you may never meet and for those of us who help them experience God’s unconditional love, grow in faith and serve the world. So thank you, keep it up!
If you have questions about the Wesley Center, we invite you to reach out to us, we LOVE to talk about our amazing students and the difference that the Wesley Center is making at ISU and beyond.