No college student will ever pass up a free meal, and thanks to religious groups on campus, students are able to get free meals at least three times a week.
“We want to be a Christ-centered group that is compassionate and looks for ways to engage the campus,” said Mark Jones, leader of the Baptist Student Ministries.
College can be a time of finding one’s self. Many students are trying to decide whether they truly believe their parents’ religion or if they just believe it because they grew up with it, and it’s all they’ve ever known.
In addition to free meals, the BSM and Wesley Foundation offer counsel and information for students on these quests for their beliefs. Both buildings are located on Baxter Street near the White Administration Building.
When mentoring students in their walk, Jones said that he likes to get them thinking. If he can spark their curiosity, then students will want to investigate further on their own.
“We try not to be real heavy-handed when it comes to ministry,” Jones said. “I think what I seek to be around here is authentic.”
At noon every Wednesday, the BSM hosts a free lunch on campus. The meal was originally designed for commuter students, but it is open to any students who are hungry.
At 8 p.m. on Thursday nights, they serve pancakes and bacon for free along with hosting games and a Bible study. Before the group study, the students are broken into guys’ and girls’ studies. This offers the opportunity for students to speak about things they may not feel comfortable saying in front of members of the opposite gender.
“I’m not trying to compete with the clubs, but I want to have something that celebrates life,” Jones said.
The people at the BSM try to make it as pleasant as possible. The building itself has a TV and pingpong tables. Whether students are going there to study, kill time between classes or just hang out, they are always welcome at the BSM.
“I felt comfortable as soon as I walked in,” Jared Feagans, a TJC music major, said.
The BSM generally opens around 8 or 8:30 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. Except on Thursday, pancake night, when they stay open till 10:30 p.m.
Another organization on campus, which offers a place to chill in a Christian environment, is the Wesley Foundation, a strand of the United Methodist Church.
“We’re here to support the students in any way we can. Our mission is to love and support,” Sunny Farley, the director of Wesley Foundation, said.
“It kinda brought me closer to the center of the faith again,” Rusty Bell, a sophomore intern for the Wesley Foundation, said about his experience.
The Wesley offers a free lunch on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and hosts a weekly movie night on Mondays at 6 p.m.
They also host what they call flash mob missions. They are typically hour-long missions where members of the Wesley Foundation act in harmony to benefit a good cause. For example, one day they sang outside of Brookshire’s asking people to donate canned food, which the Wesley would in turn give to the East Texas Food Bank.
A big thing that happens at the Wesley is their Sunday church service, which they call Soul Café. The doors open at 12:30 p.m., allowing students to still sleep in on Sunday mornings. They serve lunch to the students and then hold the church service at 1 p.m.
Inside the building itself, there are several couches and a television as well as foosball and pool tables. The building is also equipped with Wi-Fi. Students are always welcome to come do homework or hang out at the Wesley Foundation. Some students have even been known to come take naps on the couches there.
The building opens at 9 a.m. Monday through Thursday and then at 12 p.m. on Sundays. Rev. Farley encourages students of all denominations to come hang out at the building and join in the different events they host.
“We’re open to everybody. Just because we’re the Methodist student center, doesn’t mean you have to be Methodist to come here,” Rev. Farley said. “We welcome everybody. We’re happy to have them.”
For more information on the BSM, go to www.tjcbsm.org or call 903-592-0382. To find information on The Wesley Foundation, go to www.tylertxwesleyfoundations.wordpress.com or call 903-592-3866.