The Denton Wesley Foundation
August/September 2017 Newsletter
Students Passionate about Faith and Social Justice Respond to Hurricane Harvey
On a Wednesday morning during her last week of summer school, Halle Wiltshire is literally bouncing in her seat at Starbucks on UNT's campus. "I'm sorry, I just got an idea, and I'm so excited," says a grinning Wiltshire as she drains the last bit of her green tea.
"What if we connect with students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and see if they are struggling with food insecurity like we are, and we can work together to build responses and solutions?" she proposes. Just two weeks later, she would find herself in a position to respond to one of the greatest catastrophes our state has seen.
A junior Public Health major from California, Wiltshire will be leading the Wesley's new Hunger Initiative this year, designed to uncover and raise awareness about issues of food justice locally and internationally, critically assess, study, and pray about what Christians ought to believe and do about food injustice, and organize actions to alleviate systemic causes of food insecurity and injustice. The team, made up of UNT, NCTC, and TWU students who meet on the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month at the Wesley at 5pm, was originally designed for this purpose, but after Hurricane Harvey hit, Wiltshire felt a call to use her leadership and group to coordinate college students' involvement in relief efforts. Thanks to Wiltshire, the Denton Wesley is in talks with the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church about being a site for donation sorting and other disaster-relief support, and its students have been asked to accompany an engineering alum of UNT to aid in hands-on clean-up efforts in South Texas this fall, the details of which are still being coordinated. Within 24 hours of the hurricane's landfall, the Wesley began selling t-shirts to raise money for disaster relief and has raised nearly $200, most of it from students who are already struggling to make ends meet.
Like Wiltshire, the Denton Wesley is passionate about seeing the needs and assets in our midst and in our world, as well as seeking out our connections and relationships to a diverse array of people and communities. We believe in faithfully and humbly asking God and the communities in question what Christ has to say about both the inequalities and the gifts we see in our world, and then acting bravely and selflessly to equip and empower change. Our idea is to move past simply believing in Christ to following Christ into selfless and mutual relationships with whomever is an "Other" in our world, but we also believe in reflecting honestly on our place in the systems that operate in this world. This year, we will be asking tough questions like, "Who benefits from this practice or theology? Who is harmed by this? How can I redistribute power and resources to empower equality? How can I speak - or stay silent and let others speak - in a way that contributes to building up God's family on earth? What voices are we overlooking in Scripture and in our world?" We want to not only engage in acts of mercy but also bravely take on acts of justice.
To this end, the Wesley will be taking on a number of different initiatives, including an LGBTQ+/Allies Small Group and fEMPOWER, a feminist Bible study and resource/activist group that seeks to empower women and marginalized gender identities on our campuses from a progressive, faith-based perspective. fEMPOWER meets at the Wesley from 4-5pm on the first Tuesday of every month.
Additionally, every 2nd and 4th Sunday at 7pm, the Wesley will co-sponsor with Open Worship and First UMC a group called Intersect, which is dedicated to reading and discussing the Christian Scriptures in light of justice issues and to challenging one another to take on personal and collective actions as Christ-followers committed to love, peace, and justice.
Continuing its service to the UNT, TWU, and NCTC communities, Shiloh Food Pantry serves students every other Friday from 1-3pm. This year, Shiloh intern Katrina Krauss would like to expand Shiloh's ministry to parenting students by providing more infant- and child-care products like diapers, formula, and wipes, as well as providing school supplies and other non-food items that students require but may have difficulty affording. To make an in-kind or financial donation, please email Katrina at firstname.lastname@example.org or Haley Feuerbacher at email@example.com.
On the 3rd Sunday of each month, from 5-8pm, beginning in September, students from the Wesley will be providing a safe space for children with special needs and their siblings so that their parents and guardians can have a few hours to themselves. This ministry, called Wesley's Friends and led by senior Haley Love, will take place at First United Methodist Church in Denton. To make reservations or volunteer, email Haley Feuerbacher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we go forward into the school year, we are determined to make the Wesley a community that treats Christianity as a verb, that can offer a collective, courageous voice for love and justice while also welcoming, celebrating, and learning from diverse experiences and positions, and that can provide both a safe space and a challenging space for students to explore their roles in God's story of the world and the story of God's role in their lives.
Hunger Initiative leader Halle Wiltshire reads during House Worship at the Wesley.
Shiloh Intern Katrina Krauss at the Tarrant Area Food Bank training.
Haley Love (right) will lead Wesley's Friends, a ministry to children with special needs, this fall, and Emily Spencer (left) will help coordinate Fuse, the Wesley's weekly fellowship and outreach events.
Build This City on North Texas Giving Day!
On Thursday, September 14, from 6am until midnight, you can be a Wesley Rock Star by giving to our "We Built This City Campaign"! The Denton Wesley is a unique community of passionate young Christ-followers who are committed to journeying together as we stumble towards Christ and to being a progressive, inclusive voice and an active embodiment of Christ's hands and feet for a beautiful, struggling, divine, and human world. We are committed to building a community of Christ-followers, as well as building up the city of Denton and the world beyond - and we invite you to be part of our efforts to "build this city."
Inspired by that awesome Starship song that boasts the distinct honor of being named VH1's #1 Worst Song Ever (we totally disagree), every individual or organization who donates on September 14 will be given a "rock star name", which, along with their legal names, will be written on a brick in the Shiloh Food Pantry at the Denton Wesley Foundation. Your legacy will literally be recorded in the bricks of the Denton Wesley building, the place in which we build each other up and work to build God's Kin-dom!
Here's what your contributions will go towards building:
- Stocking Shiloh Food Pantry to alleviate food insecurity amongst students, since some research estimates that nearly 50% of college students lack access to food security
- Conference fees for students to present their work and scholarship at and/or to attend events that will encourage their calls to ministry and Christian thought and action
- Providing free lunches to students and staff at area colleges on Thursdays
- Supplies for fEMPOWER resource group, Intersect theological activism team, Wesley's Friends ministry, and Hunger Initiative events
- Funding for Fuse, our outreach and fellowship events that endeavor to reach out to and welcome in to the Wesley all Denton area college students
- and more great stuff!
The Awkward Stage - A New Artist's Venue
Denton is known for its live music and creative community, but for young and emerging artists, it is not always easy to find spaces to share their gifts. Enter the Denton Wesley Foundation and its new offering, The Awkward Stage. Over the summer, our main room has been transformed by volunteers into a space that celebrates and empowers musicians, artists, poets, songwriters, and storytellers to share their messages and God-given gifts. We now have a performance stage (the infamous "Awkward Stage"), art supplies, a redesigned interior, and wall space for art shows or student artwork on display. This year, the Wesley will hold worship and other live music events out front in the Melanie Goodwin Amphitheater and on the deck under the lights. Additionally, the Wesley will host "The Awkward Stage" on select nights throughout the year and will invite performers for concerts, open mic nights, poetry slams, stand-up comedy, karaoke, and storytelling nights. Our hope is to provide a free venue for emerging artists to hone their crafts and garner a following of supporters.
The Awkward Stage launched its first Live Music and Open Mic Night on August 24. Headlining the evening were Wesley art student and singer Lindsay Holifield and local talent and UNT student Katie Nielsen. Other students, both returning and new freshmen, shared their gifts of poetry, musicianship, and singing in short sets following the opening acts.
To support the Awkward Stage via a donation or to share your talents or stories on the Awkward Stage, contact Haley Feuerbacher at email@example.com.
Student of the Month: Haley Love
First Flight Week and Pioneer Camp with the Wesley!
First Flight Week
Campus Minister Haley Feuerbacher, Student Minister Baylee Davis, and LGBTQ+/Allies Home Group Leader Lindsay Holifield talk with students at the Wesley Peace Wall. Over 200 students signed their names to the wall as a pledge to stand against violence, hate, oppression, and inequality!
Ice Cream on the Square
Upperclassmen, graduate students, and alumni alike enjoyed an evening on the Denton Square at First Flight Week.
Sam Gitre busts out some rap at The Awkward Stage Open Mic Night.
First Flight Week
Ice Cream on the Square
Candace Dawson and Haley Feuerbacher shamelessly belt some Nickelback.
Braving The Awkward Stage
Emily Spencer rocks out to "We Built This City on Rock and Roll!"
House Worship, September 2017: "Christianity Is a Verb"
"We don't need more Christians who can recite the Apostle's Creed or can wax eloquently about the 'homousios' of Christ. We need Christians who embrace wholeheartedly that everything they believe and experience about God is rooted in the action of self-giving love and liberation - and who are willing to follow Christ into the messy spaces that that action takes us." - Haley Feuerbacher
Tues., Aug. 29 - "Christianity Is a Verb: Beyond Belief"
Tues., Sept. 5 - "Christianity Is a Verb: To Love"
Tues., Sept. 12 - "Christianity Is a Verb: To Create"
Tues., Sept. 19 - "Christianity Is a Verb: To See, Part 1"
Tues., Sept. 26 - "Christianity Is a Verb: To See, Part 2" (Guest Speaker: Pastor Elton Monday)