In this Wesley Foundation Highlight, we learn how Wesley at University of Michigan is equipping bold and effective leaders for service to church and community.
Young Adult Initiatives, Michigan Conference
This Wesley Foundation in Ann Arbor has the rainbow flag and a Black Lives Matter banner as a part of their front entry way. The Wesley Foundation at the University of Michigan is one of the many reconciling campus ministries in the state.
Wesley at U of M has been blessed by the presence of both David, who hails from Uganda, and Enrique, who hails from Spain. Both of these individuals have come to the campus ministry because they saw the banners and decided to take the plunge into what the ministry was all about. David and Enrique have jumped into Wesley at U of M with both feet because they found the community to be welcoming and affirming of all.
“I just live up the block, and I got a good vibe from this place,” Enrique shared as he gathered with the students at their Sunday evening meal. The joy and many gifts they have brought to this community, even as short-term international scholars, have added so much to the life of the Wesley Foundation at U of M.
Like all of the Michigan Wesley Foundations, the U of M Wesley is open to all students, without discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
According to chaplain, Rev. Tim Kobler, the Wesley Foundation at U of M voted in 2007 to become a Reconciling Campus Ministry. Their welcome statement reads as follows:
“We are a community of persons committed to caring, sharing, serving, learning, and growing with each other regardless of ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital or economic status, disability, or other human differences. Our common bond is God’s love shown through Jesus Christ. Our emphases include concern for the social implications of the gospel in the world and personal growth as Christians.”
“It is of vital importance that our ministry be open to all people,” Kobler said. “One of our fastest growing ministries is our Fellowship of Queer University Students because it provides a safe space for people to explore the intersection of faith and identity.”
In addition to being a proud, openly reconciling campus ministry, Wesley at U of M has also been active in the Black Lives Matter and Sanctuary community in Ann Arbor and the U of M community. They are currently a Level 2 Sanctuary Congregation, which means that they help provide volunteers and resources, as needed, for those individuals who are living in sanctuary.
The work that Wesley at U of M is putting into the LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matters communities are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all that they are doing to invest in the campus community and in their own student’s leadership development.
“We work collaboratively with the counseling center, the Spectrum Center [for LGBTQIA+ students], and our campus food pantry to help provide for the many needs and opportunities our students encounter each day,” Rev. Kobler said. “A lot of our ministry is developed by student leaders, which gives plenty of opportunity for them to discover their gifts and graces.”
The student leaders that are currently a part of Wesley at U of M also have the opportunity to work alongside the new students. Not only are the current student leaders helping to generate new leaders, but the graduate students are present to support the undergraduate students by acting as mentors, offering insight and wisdom.
“Our young adults are very good at seeing the giftedness in each other and helping to name and celebrate those gifts,” Kobler said.
Wesley at U of M has a partner congregation, Ann Arbor: First United Methodist Church. This relationship is unique, but natural in many different aspects of their ministry.
“The clergy of the church, as well as many church members, interact with the university students and help mentor them along the way,” Kobler said. “The students have many opportunities to hear [the clergy and congregation members] faith stories and narratives of call. It helps the Wesley participants to help process their own sense of calling.”
On top of Wesley at U of M working hard to build strong leaders, they are also working to deepen their faith and stay true to the Wesleyan Tradition through the work they are doing. The community at U of M Wesley centers on the Wesleyan understanding of the means of grace.
“Through works of piety and works of mercy, we help make disciples and change the world for the better,” Kobler explained. “Bible study, worship, and other small groups help young adults develop their faith and discover their identity as beloved children of God.”
These opportunities for mission and community service connect students not only to the campus, but also to the world, which helps them meet various needs, locally and globally.
The Wesley Foundation at the University of Michigan is diligently working towards building strong leaders. Through service, community, and open doors, all people are welcome at this campus ministry. All people are welcome to continue deepening their faith and strengthening their relationships within the community around them.
Wesley Campus Ministry, creating bold and effective leaders.