By Jessica King
Photo by Victoria Deal
The Wesley House has been giving students an opportunity to live among a faith-based community for the past eight years, according to Tabitha Rankin, director of the Wesley Foundation at Tyler Junior College. This ministry began in 2013 when Dr. Sunny Farley, former director of the Wesley Foundation at TJC, led the opening of TJC’s first Christian dorm.
Though the Wesley House did not make its appearance on campus until 2013, “the Wesley Foundation has been a part of the TJC community since the 1950s,” Rankin said. The Wesley Foundation is a campus ministry of the United Methodist Church, according to TJC Orgsync, and operates two dorms that provide a safe and affordable living space for students to have opportunities to grow academically, spiritually, morally and socially, according to tylerwesleyhouse.com.
The two dorms that make up the Wesley House were originally West and Lewis Hall, Elise Mullinix said in the article “Wesley Foundation creates second faith-based residence hall” published on TJC’s website in 2016. The Wesley House is now home to approximately 80 students each semester, Rankin said.
Farley’s legacy remains in the Wesley House as her vision to create a place for students to grow as a disciple of Christ while they grow academically has turned into “one of the most amazing ministries that we offer our campus,” Rankin said.
Students who reside in the Wesley House work together to make a difference on campus and in the community by improving its outreach to TJC’s student body over the past eight years, according to Rankin, and Samuel Akers, a 2020 graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler and resident assistant at the Wesley House, testified to the synergy between residents.
“I think the biggest things that I’ll take away from Wesley House was the importance of teamwork. There were times where it seemed easier to go at life alone, but I learned quickly that working with a team for a comprehensive approach gave better outcomes in situations where we had to deal with complex problems in life and at work,” Akers said.
The Wesley House continues to serve the TJC community with several programs throughout the week. The biggest weekly event, according to Rankin, is “Lunch on the Lawn” where Wesley House residents treat faculty and students to free lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Tuesday, Rankin said.
In addition to “Lunch on the Lawn,” the lounge in building two of the Wesley House is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for students to have a place to relax, study or have a snack, according to TJC’s Orgsync.
The Wesley Foundation also holds a night of worship at 7 p.m. on Thursdays at Fairwood United Methodist Church and a “Whata Wednesday” Bible study at 6 p.m. at Marvin United Methodist Church, according to “Wesley House Quarterly Fall 2020 Issue,” the Wesley House’s quarterly newsletter.
For more information about the Wesley Foundation and Wesley House or upcoming events, students visit tylerwesleyhouse.com. Housing applications for the Wesley House are also available at tylerwesleyhouse.com/application.