A local student ministry is now operating on a shoestring budget after their funding was completely cut over the summer.
At a June meeting of the Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church the board voted to cut funding completely to all two-year college Wesley Foundations, including the one that has called Tyler Junior College home for over 60 years.
The Wesley Foundation at TJC hosts weekly events at its building on Baxter Street including free lunch at Noon on Tuesdays. On Thursdays, the foundation offers worship time at 8 p.m.
New TJC Wesley Foundation Director Will Edmonson said the conference did an assessment in December 2007 and brought in consultants to look all aspects of the church.
“They found that campus ministry was one of the lowest-rated ones. It was getting the most funding so they cut funding to all Wesley foundations,” Edmonson said. “All two-year schools with the Wesley Foundation had funding cut because they saw it as not quite worth the money as opposed to a four-year schools.”
Edmonson disagreed with the move by the conference. He said this campus is a “two-year school, but it feels like a four-year school.”
The Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church declined to comment on this matter pending a Nov. 1 meeting of their Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministries.
Since the cut, the TJC Wesley Foundation’s funding and director’s salary have been supported solely in the form of donations from local Methodist churches in Tyler.
Edmonson said the program will stay at TJC with or without funding.
“When they cut funding, a lot of people thought it would be the end of this ministry. As of now we’re sort of pushing the expectations,” he said. “Ministry is incredibly cheap… [We] don’t let the money confine us.”
The TJC Wesley Foundation now has a little over half of its yearly budget raised through local churches and there is a campaign ongoing to get more churches involved.
Edmonson also wants the organization to get more involved on campus this semester and maybe get funding assistance from the college.
“This is the first year we’ve gone to student senate. We’re looking to be more involved in that,” Edmonson said. “I honestly think this is a way the Wesley Foundation can step in, maybe we can push some policies. I just think having a presence and giving to the community. Small things like that is what we’re doing.”
Edmonson said even though the foundation on campus does not have funding from the conference they will find a way to be on campus for the community.
“This ministry’s been around for 60 years it has been a part of this community and they don’t want it to stop,” Edmonson said.
The foundation will also be hosting a Halloween party starting at 8 p.m. Oct. 31.