Collective collegiate collaboration brought the five presidents and board chairs of the Wesleyan college and universities together on Monday, November 13 at The Wesleyan Church World Headquarters, Fishers, Indiana, for this year’s convening of the Wesleyan Education Council (WEC), hosted by Education and Clergy Development (ECD).

“WEC exists to facilitate collaboration, common identity and a network of Wesleyan colleges and universities,” said Russ Gunsalus, the executive director of ECD. Because of the team efforts of WEC, students, faculty, staff and administration at the Wesleyan Higher Education, facilities are able to work together towards future educational endeavors, all the while being Christ-centered.

“This event is designed to further the mission of The Wesleyan Church – transforming lives, churches and communities with the hope and holiness of Jesus Christ – through collaborative efforts between our Wesleyan college and universities,” Gunsalus continued. “Our Wesleyan colleges and universities are key in developing disciples who, in turn, are transformative agents in God’s work of advancing his kingdom. This meeting convenes the presidents and board chairs of each college and university for the sake of collaboration and honing the effectiveness of Wesleyan Higher Education in servicing the church.”

The accountability provided and collective creativity generated through this convention of the top administrators of the Wesleyan higher education institutions is producing additional initiatives to support Wesleyan ministerial candidates and clergy for years to come. Per an assignment from the 2016 General Conference, the WEC is investigating the current costs and burdens of ministerial education. Discussion Monday deliberated findings and results on this matter, all the while working towards the goal of affordable ministerial educational offerings from The Wesleyan Church.

Additionally, Gunsalus contributes, “We are working closely with the schools to provide affordable sabbatical programs for Wesleyan pastors. In this program, schools would leverage excess housing capacity, availability of food services and its various resources including access to the library, professor interaction, counseling, etc., to provide retreat and sabbatical opportunities for pastors.”

This two-sided approach will seek to provide further emotional and financial support for Wesleyans within ministerial development and clergy ranks. Not only will ministerial students have less of an education-based financial burden upon graduating and entering ministry, but clergy and families will also have better sabbatical opportunities for rest and recharge in the midst of ministry pressures and stresses.

At the Monday meeting, reports and testimonial narratives were also shared regarding the movement of the Holy Spirit among students at each of the Wesleyan education institutions, including baptisms and missions trips. God is at work in the Wesleyan academies as these five colleges model being agents and conduits of transformation in the lives of students and staff alike.

Upcoming events and initiatives sponsored by WEC include Fuel, an expansion of the Kern ministerial scholars program, additional collaboration within the five institutions, and the second Quadrennial Board of Trustee Conference to be held at the cusp of the Gathering 2019 in Orlando, Florida.

Gunsalus also asks, “Please pray for the WEC as they work together to advance our educational institutions’ efforts to be healthy, strong and effective in their mission to educate, develop and transform students.” Thank you for praying.

Members present:

Houghton College

President Dr. Shirley Mullen

Board of Trustees Chair John Lee

Indiana Wesleyan University

President Dr. David Wright

Board of Trustees Chair Carl Shepherd

Kingswood University

President Dr. Steve Lennox

Board of Trustees Chair H.C. Wilson

Oklahoma Wesleyan University

President Dr. Everett Piper

Board of Trustees Chair Roger Metcalf

Southern Wesleyan University

President Dr. Todd Voss

Board of Trustees Chair Sue Rickman