College Ministry as an Intergenerational Community

By Haley Feuerbacher,
Campus Minister at The Denton Wesley Foundation

At the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, student intern Katrina Krauss and I sat down to discuss the Denton Wesley Foundation's budget for the Shiloh food pantry ministry. We knew the statistics: nearly 60% of all college students face food insecurity, and Shiloh provides free groceries to several hundred students each month. But we also realized that we could not spend what we were used to putting into the food pantry. If we did not have the money in our budget to stock the food pantry, how would we help the hundreds of students who frequent Shiloh?

"This is God's ministry, not ours," we decided, "and God sees the need and will provide."

The very next day, a woman named Sue Herring walked into the Wesley.

"I was wondering how my husband and I and our church can help support your food pantry," said Sue, who had felt led to serve at Shiloh for months.

God does indeed provide.

Since then, Paul and Sue Herring of Argyle United Methodist Church have gathered 30 volunteers to cook and serve lunch to over 100 students on Thursdays and to staff the Shiloh Food Pantry. Each week, they collect donations, purchase additional food for the pantry, and help keep our property clean and organized. They greet students and give them tips on how to prepare certain foods or just general advice about adulting. This month, Argyle United Methodist Church has raised money and nearly 700 pounds of food for Shiloh Food Pantry, organized a work day to clean the Wesley, and put together a huge care package for our students!

Argyle's involvement in our college ministry represents an intentional move at the Denton Wesley Foundation to form intergenerational relationships and partnerships. We are striving to put our students into contact with those outside the campus community so that they can reciprocally use their gifts and experiences to enhance one another's lives and relationships with God.

In addition to Argyle's work with our students, we have also been blessed by people like Kent Carpenter of First United Methodist Church who is leading a Bible Study at the Wesley and like Clay Thurmond, Jonathan Perry, Chuck and Cynthia Rives, Russell Van Hoose, Beth Barnhouse, and Krystal Stroud who, with our students, have formed a group called Intersect. They gather twice a month to study the Bible and work for social justice with one another. Together, this intergenerational cohort has worked on initiatives such as DACA education, Denton Women's March, Title IX, and Take Back the Night. It is currently planning a #ChurchToo conference to help churches recognize, prevent, and address sexual misconduct.

Finally, the Denton Wesley Foundation is looking to connect with younger generations. We will be planning and hosting a Youth Worship Night at the Wesley for UMC youth groups in the area in April. Our students have much to give to and much to learn from these youth, and we are eager to form relationships with them.

Far from being just a ministry to college students, the Denton Wesley Foundation is a community in which many generations join together, passionate about each other's lives in Christ and compassionate towards one another. We call this a Com/Passionate Community, and we are thankful for those who make this possible.