Young Adults

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.

Valentine's Day College Care Packages

Each year, Argyle UMC sends a care package to each of our college students to let them know how loved they are by their home church on Valentine's Day. Through your gifts and donations, we were able to send out 69 care packages to our college students. Thank you to each one of you who contributed and to the 14 volunteers who were here to help sort, label, and package these treats. 

The Painting Journey

I didn't realize it when I signed up for it, but this painting experience was a Lenten Journey for me. I don't even know what I was thinking when I signed up--I had never painted anything before, I'm a graduate student, I work full-time, I'm balancing a lot of different roles--there were so many reasons why I shouldn't have. But I felt drawn to this project, so I dreamt up this painting. 

For those of you who don't know, I'm the Director of Communications here, which means that one of the hats that I wear is graphic design. I'm getting more and more comfortable creating things digitally, so talking it through with our Director of Worship Arts and my dear friend, DeDe Jones, I created a digital collage of images of what this could end up looking like. 

This digital version was square one. From here, we began to plan the logistics of how this would come to fruition. Only once we were in Home Depot buying 2 X 8 panels of insulation foam did I realize how big this painting was going to be. We honestly hadn't thought it through. You should have seen DeDe and I standing in the Home Depot parking lot, brows furrowed, deciding who would sit in the bed of the truck and hold them all the way to my apartment and who would drive with the hazards on at 20 mph on the highway. (I ended up in the wayback hugging these huge panels all the way home.)

We unloaded them all, painted them white, and then I was left to looking at these huge, blank panels that would soon become art. 

Faith is really not my strength. It's hard for me. Hebrews 11:1 says that "faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see." Even though this was 100% out of my comfort zone, I could somehow see it all before I started, and looking back, I'm realizing that this was a faith journey for me. Through art, God called me outside the lines of my comfortable places (the things I know I'm good at) and drew me into an intimate place with Him where I had to act on faith that things would turn out alright. And they did! Each week, I painted a panel, and I got to watch it come together with all of you, not seeing it truly complete until Easter weekend. I am so grateful to work with a team who gave me this opportunity and saw how God would work in me before I could. I am so grateful for this staff, our congregation, and my friends and family who prayed over this journey. God truly transformed my life through this painting, and I hope that you were able to see Him through this journey, too.

Missional Lenten Offerings Week One: College Care Packages

Throughout the Lenten season, we will have a missional offering opportunity each week. Last week, you gave $412.60 towards our College Care Packages Ministry. Through that incredible gift and through the item donations you gave, we were able to send out 90 care packages to our college students. Thank you to each one of you who contributed and to the 14 volunteers who were here to help sort, label, and package these treats.