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Wesley Foundation continues service despite funding cut

Even after having a complete funding cut in June 2008, the Wesley Foundation at Tyler Junior College has managed to get by.

All two-year colleges and some four-year universities have Wesley Foundations. Foundations from the Houston area and East Texas received a complete fund cut from the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church last June.

“Those who have the role of Campus Ministry Management realized that they had to do more with less,” Dan Conway, director of the Wesley Foundation at TJC and UT-Tyler, said. “They had less money to spread out throughout all the campus ministries.”

The conference committee saw that more students were being involved in leadership, fellowship, worship and Bible study in Wesley Foundations at four-year universities than at two-year colleges.

“Four-year colleges is where you would probably get the most chance to build more leaders, to build leaders in the church, to build people committed to the church,” Benjamin West, program assistant of the Wesley Foundation at TJC and UT-Tyler, said.

However, there were some Wesley Foundations at four-year universities who haven’t had as many students involved, so they also had their funding cut.

“It was horrible for them to do that, especially without giving us much warning,” music major Peter Groce said. “It just kinda happened one day.”

Having their funding cut, however, was not the end of the Wesley Foundation.

“When this ministry’s majority of the funding was cut, it initiated a fundraising drive,” Conway said.

In October 2008, representatives of the Wesley Foundation at TJC presented a proposal to the Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry. The representatives asked that at least part of the funding be restored to the foundation while they gathered up a base of financial support. Their proposal was accepted and took effect in January 2009. However, the funding will not last long.

“Funding will be phased out over four years,” West said.

Several local Methodist churches help the Wesley Foundation with the free lunch they provide every Tuesday.

“Even when we do have funding from the conference, our local churches still contribute and participate by taking turns with this lunch that we have,” Gayle Robinson, associate director of the Wesley Foundation at TJC said. “We have about 15 local churches in the East Texas area that are Methodist churches that help us.”

The Wesley Foundation at TJC is located behind College Books on Baxter Street. It provides free lunch on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and free coffeehouse on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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