College Spotlight: Kansas Wesleyan University
Vacation Bible school teams travel from the north to the south borders of the Kansas West Conference from lead programs in small-membership churches. Kansas Wesleyan operates the Center for Small Membership Churches with support from the conference.
KANSAS WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY
Center strengthens churches, develops leaders
On-campus students and far-flung, often somewhat isolated United Methodist congregations both benefit from the Center for Small-Membership Churches at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, Kan.
"Small-membership churches are a critical component of The United Methodist Church," said Wayne Lowen, interim president and provost of the 126-year-old school. "Together, with the Kansas West Conference, we are helping small-membership churches survive and thrive."
Lowen especially noted the important contribution of the school's vacation Bible school program, which over the past three years has enriched the ministry of 22 churches. One hundred youth and 100 adults have conducted summer programs with 400 children.
"At the same time, students from the university develop leadership skills as they lead vacation Bible schools in small-membership churches," said Lowen. "The program has been an effective tool in helping college-age students hear God's call to the ordained ministry."
Two former Kansas Wesleyan students are now moving toward ordination in The United Methodist Church. Another student currently serves as director of children and youth ministries in two churches.
It "was an eye-opening experience," said student Rudo Dozva, who participated in the vacation Bible school program. "I discovered that I was a role model to children and youth, and I found my call to ministry." The vacation Bible schools often attract children who are not a part of the congregation. Following the summer experience, Dozva changed her major from pharmacy to religion.
The Rev. Carl Ellis, director of the center, said, "My greatest joy is to see small-membership churches revitalize their children's program as university students become future leaders."
The Rev. J. Richard Peck