April 21 was a momentous day for the South Carolina District and Southern Wesleyan University (SWU) as the official transfer of the former First Wesleyan/ALIVE Wesleyan Church property on the campus of SWU was completed. These entities, closely tied together because of our denomination family and geography, have reached new levels of cooperation and appreciation for each other.
It’s really a story of the dilemma of a growing church needing space to continue growing, and the only viable buyer of their property (SWU) being unable to make the purchase. The district became the bridge for the solution by providing the funding for the church to move and grow and holding the building for the university until it was ready to purchase. A look in the rearview mirror for the past four years provides opportunity to see what can happen in a denomination such as ours when everyone involved has a Kingdom mentality.
At every level, we had people working toward the mission with a kingdom vision. It’s not just about the university, ALIVE, the South Carolina District, or The Wesleyan Church. But through all levels of the denomination, there was involvement, interaction, and a mutual commitment to make sure the right thing happened. Each one sought to leverage what they could for it to become reality. As far as I’m concerned, that’s just a beautiful thing in terms of the value of something larger than just a local church. I count it a privilege to have had the opportunity to be involved in something like that.
In addition, the district and ALIVE Wesleyan Church have both made significant contributions toward the capital campaign for the transformation of this now SWU-owned building into the new Nicholson-Mitchell Christian Ministry Center. The district gave a gift for the naming of the Center’s lobby as a memorial to Allen Mitchell, son of Dr. and Mrs. Virgil Mitchell, who, while a ministerial student at what is now Indiana Wesleyan University, was killed in an auto accident. These funds were from the sale of a property that was the site of a South Carolina District church, named as a memorial to Allen, until its closing several years ago. An additional contribution was given by both the district and church as a matching gift to fund the chapel.
It is such a privilege to be involved in the growth of SWU. I am thrilled to realize that it remains so decidedly committed to the mission that has been there all along and to hear the students give their testimonies that are so similar to my wife Joan’s and mine. Dr. Todd Voss, SWU president, is providing amazing leadership and is building a team that is totally committed to preparing a new generation of Kingdom leaders. The ALIVE congregation has become the first church in the district to exceed the 1,000 mark in average attendance, and on Easter 2015, ALIVE had 1,672 present for their services! The university is thriving and expanding and will need the classrooms that are located in the new ministry center this fall. In addition, the district will now be able to leverage these funds toward additional church multiplication projects. And God gets the glory for it all.
Rev. Buddy Rampey is district superintendent of the South Carolina District of The Wesleyan Church.