Campus ministers ask: Who's coming from your church?

Campus ministers ask: Who's coming from your church?

Read the names of these eight colleges:

  • East Tennessee State University
  • Emory & Henry
  • Hiwassee
  • Radford
  • Tennessee Wesleyan
  • University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • University of Virginia College at Wise

Now think of young people who have grown up in your church -- who are attending one of these schools this fall. Maybe you're thinking of your own child. Does the United Methodist minister at that college know a student from your church is arriving on campus?

Somebody should tell them. That's why campus ministers from these colleges are appealing for the names and contact information of Holston students attending their schools this fall. The goal is to welcome United Methodists to campus and to let them know they have a church and church family away from home.

"The biggest misconception is that the colleges give us the names of Holston students who are arriving on campus," said Martee Buchanan, Wesley Foundation director at Radford University. "They don't. We can't find our kids -- unless they happen to fill out a card asking for more information at orientation."

Five state-supported schools within Holston boundaries each have a United Methodist student community -- known as the Wesley Foundation -- staffed with a Holston minister. Those schools include UVA College at Wise, Radford, UTK, UTC, and ETSU.

Three United Methodist-related colleges within the conference have chaplains who also wish to connect with Holston students: Tennessee Wesleyan, Hiwassee, and Emory & Henry.

"We want to connect Holston students to the United Methodist presence on campus," explains Buchanan. "We want them to know that their church is here for them and invite them to opportunities for mission, study, and great fellowship."

"Moving to a new college or university can be very overwhelming, especially when there are so many new and unfamiliar people around," said the Rev. Tim Kobler, Wesley Foundation director at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. "A warm welcome and personal contact can make a world of difference for a student."

At UVA College at Wise, the Rev. Beth Tipton said she makes sure that all students, regardless of faith, receive at least one invitation to the Wesley Foundation.

"But if I knew the students who came from United Methodist backgrounds, we would ensure that each and every United Methodist student received a phone call or face-to-face invitation to continue his or her faith journey through Wesley."

The Rev. Keith Moore, Wesley Foundation director at UTC, said that congregations who deliberately connect their young people with campus ministers are sending a positive message.

"It shows the student that his or her congregation takes continued involvement beyond the local church seriously," Moore said. "When a student arrives on campus and sees that there has been communication between the local church and the campus minister, it gives them a sense of our connection."

E-mail the following campus ministers with student names, their e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers, and the local churches to which they belong:

ETSU: Jerry Everley

Emory & Henry: Mary K Briggs

Hiwassee: Betty Furches

Radford: Martee Buchanan

Tennessee Wesleyan: Will McDonald

UTC: Keith Moore

UTK: Tim Kobler

UVA College at Wise: Beth Tipton