AC Monday: Collegiate ministries send 'viral' message during AC week

AC Monday: Collegiate ministries send 'viral' message during AC week

From the June 11 daily onsite edition, provided for participants of the Holston Annual Conference at Lake Junaluska, N.C.

Last year at Annual Conference, they wore buttons to raise awareness. This year during AC week, Holston collegiate ministries are sending a message to church members through social media.

The message is: “I am the face of Holston Conference United Methodist Collegiate Ministry.” Facebook users who know the value of Holston’s three colleges and five Wesley Foundations – especially current and former students – are encouraged to use the graphic on their own pages June 10-13, said the Rev. Tim Kobler.

“We want to help lift up what we do so that people will realize the broad impact that collegiate ministries have had in Holston Conference,” said Kobler, director of the Wesley Foundation at University of Tennessee, Knoxville. “It’s great to see there are so many people who have benefited from collegiate ministries within the Holston Conference leadership.”

The graphics began to “go viral” on Facebook pages on Thursday, June 7, the first day Kobler and colleagues began posting and sharing the graphic, and has gained numerous supporters since. “We’ve seen it on pages as far away as China,” he said.

The Rev. Mary K Briggs said that she and other college ministry supporters created the campaign out of concern. Briggs is chaplain at Emory & Henry College.

“My concerns for campus ministry within our denomination and within our conference is that many people are losing their understanding of the importance of campus ministry,” Briggs said. “College students are a segment of the young adult population that we are seeking to retain in the church. If we abandon this ministry, we are abandoning a ministry of support and hospitality -- a safe place where young adults can explore their faith and deepen their spirituality.”

“To me, the Wesley Foundation is a bridge that guides students from their high school church and connects them with their church lives as adults,” said Alex Shaffer, age 23. He is completing his master’s degree at UTK and has participated in the Wesley Foundation throughout his five years of education. His home church is Mafair UMC in Kingsport.

Holston has five Wesley Foundations at: UTK, University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, University of Virginia College at Wise, Radford University, and East Tennessee State University. Holston has three related colleges: Emory & Henry, Hiwassee, and Tennessee Wesleyan.

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Annette Spence

Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.