MSU Wesley 'presses on' for more ministry

12/19/2006

Special to the Advocate

“Pressing on” describes the determination of a disciple who strives with the all-out effort of an athlete, straining to reach the goal of the upward call of God.

 

“Pressing on” means reaching, striving and straining with undying effort to experience the grace of God and to serve Jesus Christ. Paul pressed on (Philippians 3:12-14) and challenges others to press on, too (Philippians 3:15). 

 

 Wesley Foundation at Mississippi State is answering God’s call by striving, reaching and pressing on toward a vision for more ministry at the Starkville campus. 

 

 Since the 1930s, Wesley Foundation has served students at Mississippi State, first at the YMCA in the heart of campus, and since 1963, at the current location on East Lee Boulevard. Forty-three years ago, when Wesley opened its current facility, Mississippi State University served 7,000 students. After a period of dynamic growth, State now serves more than 15,000 students and has the distinction of being Mississippi’s largest university.

 

  Wesley Foundation also has experienced significant growth in recent years. Since the mid-1980s, campus ministry has experienced renewal and revival throughout the connection, and Mississippi State’s Wesley Foundation has seen student participation grow to a weekly average of 150. In the just completed fall semester, State’s Wesley Foundation served 400 students.

 

  While Wesley’s ministry already makes a difference in the lives of many students, many more students could be reached. The size of the student center restricts the number of students served. Reaching more State students with United Methodist campus ministry requires increased funding and an improved facility. 

 

Wesley Foundation’s unique opportunity is seen in several factors which distinguish its work from other campus ministries at State. First, Wesley Foundation is the only campus ministry at MSU rooted in Wesleyan theology and tradition. An emphasis on the grace and truth of Jesus Christ offers students a Biblical perspective which helps make sense of a complex world.  While other groups on our campus are doing excellent work, Wesley alone offers the Methodist point of view.

 

Second, Wesley Foundation is one of only two campus ministries at State with a student center.  Through the years, students consistently have described Wesley Foundation as “a home away from home” – a place to study, a place to pray, a place to fellowship and a place to play. 

 

Third, Wesley Foundation focuses on missions.  State Wesley operates under the conviction that campus ministry not only should serve the needs of students but also should serve the needs of the world through students who put their faith into action. Numerous mission projects meet a wide variety of needs while forming a mission vision within students.      

 

The dream is more ministry. Still in the same facility built in 1963 and now serving a student body which has doubled in size, Wesley Foundation leaders urgently feel that it is time for a larger, renovated facility since attendance far exceeds the capacity (80 people) of the large meeting room. In 2002, the Board of Directors began addressing the need for a facility for the future. Through renovating the existing 8,000 square feet and adding 4,000 square feet of new space, the construction plan more than doubles the capacity to reach students with the ministry of Wesley Foundation. 

 

Wesley Foundation leaders see several benefits to the improvements:

 A renovated and expanded Student Center equips Wesley Foundation to reach more students with opportunities for worship, spiritual growth, missions, leadership development, fellowship and support.

 Wesley Foundation has a track record of producing Christian leaders who serve the church in ordained and lay ministry. An expanded ministry at Wesley Foundation will produce even more leaders for tomorrow’s church.

 The design of the new facility will increase the visibility of Wesley Foundation. 

 The new, large meeting room provides sufficient space for hosting ecumenical campus ministry events and for hosting community functions. 

 

The campaign goal for the renovation and expansion of the student center is $1.6 million. The project is endorsed by the Board of Directors, the Mississippi Conference Committee on Higher Education and Campus Ministry and the Starkville District Board of Location and Building. The MSU Wesley Foundation now seeks to raise the funds necessary to build the dream. 

 

The campaign recently passed a milestone as the fund raising total hit the half-way mark. To date, gifts and pledges total $800,123. Gifts ranging from $10 to $200,000 have carried the project to this point, and Wesley Foundation seeks individuals and churches to help “press on” to the goal. 

 

For information, visit www.StateWesley.org or contact the Rev. Hugh Griffith, campus minister, at 662.323.1778 or wesley@ra.msstate.edu. Gifts are tax-deductible and may be made payable to MSU Wesley Foundation Building Fund and mailed to P.O. Box MY, Mississippi State, MS  39759.