New Beginnings in Campus Ministry Across the Conference

February 28, 2020

By: John Howard, Chair, Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry

New beginnings are being celebrated by the Western North Carolina Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry. Our Campus Ministries are growing and adding new ministries.

In July 2019, we welcomed Rev. Jeff McCumber who was appointed as the Campus Minister for the Wesley Foundation at UNC-Asheville. Rev. McCumber received his MDiv from Wesley in 2010 and has served as an Associate at Mineral Springs and Mills River. We are thankful for the leadership of Rev. Jessica L. Dayson who relaunched this campus ministry in 2015. She served for four years and was appointed to Myers Park.

In January 2020, we welcomed Rev. Juston Smith who was appointed as the Campus Minister for the Wesley Foundation at Appalachian State University. The App Wesley board of directors did an extensive search before announcing Rev. Smith as the new Campus Minister. He received his MDiv from Hood Theological Seminary and previously served as an Associate at First UMC in Gastonia. We are grateful for Rev. Brad Farrington who served in this role for 15 years. Rev, Farrington is now serving as a coach and consultant.

The Board also celebrates the establishment of a new Wesley Foundation on the campus of Lees McRae College called Common Ground. This ministry has a partnership with Banner Elk UMC. Rev. Ted Henry began reaching out to the students on the campus many years ago and the fruits of that ministry have grown since. Common Ground is currently the only campus ministry on the campus and has around 30 students meeting weekly for worship, study, and a meal.

This year the Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry is launching a Community College/Fresh Expressions Pilot Cohort. With tuition increases at institutions of higher learning, some graduating high school students decide to enroll in community colleges as they transition into higher education. Community college has several advantages when compared to a traditional four-year college, which include; open admission policies, lower tuition fees, savings on room and board, and more flexible curriculum and class schedules. To extend ministry into community colleges, the WNCC Board of Higher Education and Collegiate Ministry is partnering with Fresh Expressions to encourage and resource local congregations to begin Fresh Expressions within community colleges. District Superintendents will identify one congregation in their district close to a community college whom they believe has the potential (passion and courage) to be in relationship with college students.  A Fresh Expressions training led by Luke Edwards will be held in early May. After the training is completed, each congregation will be awarded $1000 to begin a Community College Fresh Expression.
The purpose of the WNCC Board of High Education and Campus Ministry is to empower those responsible for ministries on the campus so that students will become “disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”. Even in times of change and uncertainty in our denomination Campus Ministry is still growing strong and is a vital ministry of our conference.