Architect made home in OSU Wesley basement


By Michelle Crater

The Wesley Foundation at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, is about to see some major changes. The United Methodist campus ministry is in the middle of a $6 million capital campaign for a new, state-of-the-art facility.

Gary Sparks is lead architect for the project to update a building he already knows well.

He lived in the basement as a student in 1962.

Sparks lacked the finances to cover his housing expenses when he was a student. An OSU staff person encouraged him to contact the Wesley Foundation about living in the basement.

In exchange for housing, Sparks took care of the facilities.

"I was able to live there that year," Sparks said. Although he didn’t participate in activities, "it did introduce me to a Christian environment, which I really needed, and it was my first introduction to The Methodist Church."

Today, Sparks is recognized for his work with OSU Athletics, including the renovation of T. Boone Pickens Stadium and the Cowboy and Cowgirl Basketball facilities. The OSU alumnus is co-founder of Sparks Reed Architecture and Interiors in Tulsa.

Feeling connected

However, his work on the future Wesley Foundation holds personal significance.

"I said I would be happy to look and see (what we could create)," Sparks said. "I feel like I owe the Wesley Foundation something for letting me stay there when I was a student."

In preparation for the upcoming construction, the Wesley Foundation is hosting "Imagine Our Future" at 6 p.m. April 30 at Tulsa’s Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, to promote the capital campaign.

The free event will allow guests to glimpse the life-changing moments that happen daily in students’ lives because of this campus ministry. The program will highlight how the plans for the new building embody the Wesley Foundation mission: "Making disciples, creating leaders, transforming lives."

OSU faculty and United Methodist clergy have endorsed the capital campaign, including OSU President V. Burns Hargis and David Wiggs, senior pastor of Boston Avenue.

"As president of Oklahoma State University, I am aware of the importance and significance and effectiveness of the programs of the Wesley Foundation," Hargis said. "We look forward to the completion of this new facility and all it will offer our students and community."

Rev. Wiggs also is a member of the board of directors for the Wesley Foundation.

"The campus at OSU is the largest mission field in the Stillwater District," Wiggs said. "Therefore, being successful there will be our opportunity for the biggest impact in this part of Oklahoma. Not only that, but because they are developing young adult leaders, this is also the place we can have the greatest impact for The United Methodist Church in the future!"

Program in Tulsa

Sparks and Wiggs will be keynote speakers at "Imagine Our Future" in Tulsa, as well as Michael R. Bartley, campus minister at the Wesley Foundation.

The Wesley Foundation invites anyone who has a passion for college ministry to attend. "Imagine Our Future" is free to attend and includes dinner and live music from Tulsa jazz and blues musician Rebecca Ungerman. Dress is business casual.

For more information, visit the website,,  or the Facebook page Wesley Foundation at OSU. Contact Janina Graves at  to RSVP for the event.


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From left are: Kerry Alexander, founder and chairman of the Remember the Ten Run; architect Gary Sparks; Bishop Robert Hayes; and Janina Graves, student ministry coordinator at the OSU Wesley. Photo by Michelle Crater

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