Late last winter, many watched and traveled to attend the Outpouring taking place in Wilmore, Kentucky at Asbury University. For just over two weeks, student-led worship services featured prayer, singing, and confession. As the services wrapped up, onlookers and participants alike wondered how and whether God’s work would continue. This fall, God is continuing to move in unique ways across the Wesleyan Church’s five universities—Houghton University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Kingswood University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, and Southern Wesleyan University.
“We continue to see lives transformed by the hope and holiness of Jesus on a regular basis at Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU): First time commitments, recommitments, next steps, baptisms. We’re prayerful to keep up with what God’s doing,” said Rev. Torrey Martin, the University Pastor at Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU).
Across Wesleyan universities, transformative discipleship is happening in Bible studies, chapels, mentoring relationships, small groups, and prayer gatherings. On a recent trip across campus, Quint Pitts, Southern Wesleyan University’s (SWU) Chaplain and Vice President for Student Life, observed multiple student-athletes and coaches engaged in Bible studies and prayer groups. “Our chapel attendance is up 35% and the overall environment is ripe with spiritual activity,” says Pitts. The spiritual formation strategy is also aimed at edifying the whole campus at Kingswood University, according to Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Allen Lee.
Each university has staff devoted to leading, organizing, and facilitating services that not only engage students, but give them opportunities to lead, as well. At Houghton University, student-led worship services happen each weeknight. Rev. Dr. Michael Jordan, Dean of the Chapel at Houghton University confirms God’s activity in these various services: “There are more than 500 worship services every school year at Houghton, and God is at work in each one of them!” Rev. Dr. Andrea Summers, Campus Pastor and Dean of Spiritual Formation at Indiana Wesleyan University, shares a similar story: “Over half of IWU-Marion campus students meet weekly in small groups—spaces where the rubber of our souls meets the road of life. Students are learning how to pray, how to study Scripture, and how to live in Christian community in these groups.”
This spiritual activity is not simply spiritual busyness. Leaders testify to the importance of rhythm, habit, and commitment. Parker Brewer, a senior in Kingswood’s Worship Arts program, describes the change he is experiencing:
“God is at work in my life by challenging my view of rest. I’ve been learning that we must learn to rest in his presence. We sleep to rest physically, so why wouldn’t we take the time to rest in the presence of the One who rejuvenates the soul?”
For Jaxon Carpenter, an education major at Indiana Wesleyan University, the increased focus is clear: “Students are understanding the necessity of presenting our requests to God and begging him to move in the hearts of this campus, this nation, and the world.”
God’s activity does not end at the edge of campus or once a degree is conferred. As training grounds for leaders in a variety of fields, Wesleyan universities are intent on seeing God’s formative work carried into various fields through the work of their graduates. Isabelle Murch, 2023 graduate of Houghton University, currently serves as the Student Ministry Assistant Pastor at Victory Highway Church in Painted Post, NY. Pastor Isabelle testifies to God’s ongoing development.
“God’s grace has sustained me through summer camp, a mission trip, sermons, conversations with high schoolers, and the daily rhythm of life, reminding me, above any other description I could use, that I am Beloved.”
For more information about educational options in the Wesleyan Church, visit https://www.wearewesleyan.com/