New leaders hone skills for campus ministry


By Vicki Brown

A group of 46 new campus ministers and chaplains honed their skills, learned about caring for students and growing a faith community on campus, shared best practices, and more during training organized by the UM General Board of Higher Education & Ministry (GBHEM).

Among the participants at "Prepare" were six members of the Oklahoma Conference.

"Prepare" is designed for those who have been in campus ministry less than five years. The meeting was held July 17-19 in Nashville, Tenn.

Gail Bowman, chaplain at Dillard University, spoke about issues that arise in caring for students spiritually.

"People tend to treat campus ministry as kiddie care. It’s not," Rev. Bowman said. "If we do our job well, then the Church gets wonderful people to serve on boards and teach Sunday School… all the leadership positions that the Church needs."

Her suggestions included:

  • Offering prayer. "I don’t care if they are too cool for school and don’t believe in prayer. If they trusted you enough to come to you, you need to offer prayer."

  • Learning as well as teaching. Bowman said leaders of collegiate ministries also need to be ready to learn. She keeps in touch with students through text messaging because they taught her how to do it.

  • Read the Bible and find good resources on which you can rely.

Michael McCord, GBHEM’s director of Campus Ministry Resources and Training, said the new leaders were filled with "energy, vision, and hope."

Among key learning points that participants listed: building strategic partnerships both on and off campus, and communicating with students via social media.

A part-time Mississippi campus minister described Facebook and similar tools as "new ways of offering Christ so that they can find us."

Candler School of Theology professor Wesley de Souza said, "Do not assume the language of the Church will be understood. You need to depend on the Holy Spirit to develop a language that our students can understand."

From Oklahoma, the new campus ministers who attended were: Jolennda Cole, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant; Gerard Nsabimana, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond; and KayceeYoung, Northeastern State University, Tahlequah.

Also from Oklahoma were: Deb Corr, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Alva; Leslie Long, formerly campus minister at UCO and now a professor at Oklahoma City University; and Jim Hill, who chairs the Conference’s Board of Higher Education & Campus Ministry.

Following "Prepare," the six also attended the United Methodist Campus Ministry Association event in Nashville. Rev. Dr. Long has co-chaired the association.

(Brown writes for the GBHEM Office of Interpretation.)

Campus ministry

Programming surged for the 18 UM-related campus ministries as the fall semester unfolded at Oklahoma colleges and universities.

Make note of these upcoming events and early-term reports of effective outreach from the sites that serve the largest college populations in the state. (Go to  to learn about all the ministries.)


University of Tulsa

The Wesley Foundation’s annual "Golf for Student Missions Tournament" will tee off at 1 p.m. Oct. 13 at Whitehawk Golf Club in Bixby.

This is the 18th year for the golf tournament that benefits the UM campus ministry at TU, directed by Charlie Spears.

To sponsor a hole, contact the TU Wesley at 918-592-5778 or  For players, the $100 entry fee covers green fees, cart, range balls, a meal, and door prizes.

Above, a cookout Aug. 20 by the Wesley Foundation at OU appeals to hungry new students.

Daniel Dennison preaches to a full congregation as the semester begins for the Wesley Foundation at OU.

University of Oklahoma

"The students and staff did an incredible job reaching out to the new students," reported campus minister Daniel Dennison in a recent OU Wesley newsletter.

The ministry hosted a special worship service Aug. 14 for about 100 freshmen women taking part in sorority recruitment week. And on Aug. 21, at the semester’s first regular worship service, "we ran out of room for everyone! Had about 190 in attendance," Rev. Dennison said.

During the move-in-day yard party Aug. 18, about 1,200 bottles of water were shared with new students and their families. Attendance was about 225 people at a cookout Aug. 20 at the center.

The OU Wesley interns and contacting team personally contacted more than 250 new students with whom they began building connections in summer.

The OU Wesley will host "United Methodist Day" on Dec. 10. Open to all ages, the event begins at noon at the center, 428 W. Lindsey St. Schedule includes lunch and attendance at the Arkansas-OU men’s basketball game.

Deadline to register is noon Nov. 28. Call Pam at 405-321-6266. Cost, $18, includes lunch, T-shirt, and game ticket.

Oklahoma State University

The Wesley Foundation at OSU will host a 100-mile Bike-A-Thon on Oct. 15.

The event will assist students in raising money to participate in mission trips during the school year. One such trip, to the Philippines, is planned between Dec. 22 and Jan. 4, and other opportunities are being developed.

"In the Philippines we will be working alongside college students as they do social ministries in the communities that surround the Methodist church. Our work will include physical repairs, building, and prayer and worship," explained campus minister Michael Bartley.

Above, On Oct. 15, a 100-mile Bike-A-Thon will support mission trips by the Wesley Foundation at OSU.

Pledges to support the Bike-A-Thon riders are welcome. Contact Rev. Bartley, 405-880-7194,  He will be one of the riders. All pledges are needed by Oct. 13.

"Our ministry kicked off this semester with a first-ever pre-Opening Night Potluck Blast. To our surprise, we had nearly 90 students attend; we only expected 20 to 30," Bartley reported. More than 140 students attended Opening Night at the OSU Wesley.

Every Sunday morning, worship and a student-led Sunday School class are followed by a potluck meal.

"Our first-ever ‘In The Professor’s Corner’ overwhelmed us with 75 students in attendance," Bartley said.

This new program is paired with the Tuesday’s Table fellowship meal, which has been moved from lunch to suppertime. OSU professors are invited to speak, followed by Q&A with students, and then the meal is served.

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