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Wesley ‘plugs in’

Michigan Area Communications

Wesley Statewide retreats bring students together from around Michigan to be “plugged in” to God and to grow in faith with one another.

Wesley Statewide retreats are held at the beginning of Spring semester. The location moves each year from one Wesley ministry to the next across Michigan. Students travel from around the state, from both the West Michigan and Detroit Conferences. This year the Michigan Area Wesley Foundations journeyed to the Wesley Fellowship in Grand Valley State University’s Kirkhof Center in order to be “Plugged In” to the power God offers.

For many students, the Wesley Statewide Retreat is an opportunity to meet fellow college students who also practice their faith through their own Wesley communities at their universities. For first time students, like Charles Boayue III from the Wesley community at Wayne State University, Statewide can challenge you to get out of your comfort zone. “I’m usually a shy person,” he says, but the sense of community at the event is encouraging.

~MICphoto/Paul Reissmann
~MICphoto/Paul Reissmann

Brian Taylor, a student at Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Wesley member said that “[the retreat] has shown me that the Wesley community is bigger than I thought and is really great in general. It’s great how that sense of community extends across the entire state rather than Wesley being some little thing at one college It’s something that we can get together with as a large group of Christian believers across the whole state.”

On the first night of the retreat, students ate together, often gathering with students from different Wesley ministries to exchange greetings and get to know one another.

Meanwhile, the Wesley student leaders at GVSU signed in students and began the introduction to the retreat, as well as the evening’s worship service.

During the worship service, there was a time set apart for young adult representatives from mission projects and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary to present opportunities to students. The mission representatives heralded from Discovering Opportunities for Outreach & Reflection (DOOR) and the Global Mission Fellows (formerly called the US-2 Program).

Justin Chambers
Justin Chambers

Justin Chambers, an alumni from the Western Michigan University Wesley Foundation, talked about the opportunities for the DOOR program, which seeks to provide life-changing experiences for its participants rooted in relationship and solidarity with local communities and neighborhoods. In addition, Chelsea Spyres and her associates represented The NOAH Project, an affiliate with the Global Mission Fellows based in Detroit, MI. The mission of the NOAH Project is to empower low income and homeless Detroiters on their first steps along the journey to stability and self sufficiency.

Katie Fahey, a representative of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, shared how seminary can help answer a call to ministry, either into ordained ministry as an elder or deacon or into other ministries that have impact on the world, such as missionaries or mission leaders.

Following worship, students either went out to eat together or traveled to Valley Church in Allendale, MI to set up sleeping bags for the evening. The next morning, breakfast was served alongside a morning worship. Students then funneled into workshops. The workshops were lead by Wesley directors and students alike, in areas such as social justice, worship music, and faithful service.

During lunch students were involved in a mission opportunity packing meal bags for children. Kids Food Basket, an organization based in Grand Rapids, MI provides meals for kids without accessibility to food at home. The organization packs dinners that kids can take home from school. The bags are decorated with inspirational drawings or phrases. Will Miller said, “I feel like we make a difference in their lives through our quotes and through our designs, making their day a little bit better and letting them know that someone truly appreciates them.”

During the final worship of the retreat, students gathered together in the Wesleyan Prayer of Covenant Renewal and Holy Communion as a gesture of community and a sending out to be God’s light in the world.

“I don’t know of any other Christian group that does anything like this,” said Kaylee Harmening, a student leader at GVSU Wesley Fellowship. “Statewide allows me to be connected to fellow Christians on my campus and from around Michigan. I have met so many inspiring people and made many lifelong friendships with people I would have never met without Statewide.“