The Denton Wesley Foundation

October/November Newsletter

Doing Christianity at the Intersections

With lights dim and a guitar playing softly behind her, she stands at the microphone, speaking passionately to the thirty or forty students who have gathered on a Tuesday night to worship or to be with friends or maybe to seek something that they haven't yet named. As she speaks, I see students nodding vigorously, their gaze locked with hers.

"Honestly, I don't know any other way to fight darkness aside from creating, aside from exorcising my pain through paper, in music, on canvas," she says. She is telling the story of how she has discovered liberation and the Divine through creating in our recent message series, "Christianity Is a Verb." Today's verb: "Create".

"She" is Lindsay Holifield, a senior Art Therapy major, activist, and budding theologian, and she and students like her are leading the way in creating and living out what we are calling Intersectional Christianity. Intersectional Christianity embraces a praxis-based theology that is developed, tested, and lived out at the intersections of our identities as simultaneously privileged and disempowered, oppressor and oppressed - identities which determine our location in relation to privilege and power. As these students experience how people in our world, themselves included, are being harmed and excluded because of their identities as people of color, women, members of the LGBTQ community, immigrants, the working class, non-hypermasculine males, or members of single-parent families, their hearts are broken, and they are searching for a God whose heart breaks at these things too. Because, they say, if God's heart breaks, then this God who overcame death and destruction by simply loving us enough to not let the darkness win can overcome this darkness too.

And so they are creating. They are creating theologies that bring to light forgotten voices in Scripture, like the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15 or the tortured concubine in Judges 19 or the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. Through these students' theological work, they are redeeming how God speaks through the stories of these marginalized people to speak truth to the kind of power that creates margins and justifies shoving people into them. They are creating groups and actions that are founded on compassionate listening and that allow students space to share their stories, break boundaries and form relationships across division, work through their doubts, and find Christ-like love and acceptance as they voice difficult, sometimes painful things. Denton Wesley students are creating a Christianity that mobilizes Christ-followers to be active at the intersections, to embody a faith that is inseparable from justice work and liberation. They are creating visible cohorts of brave, concerned, compassionate Christian activists and allies so that the world will recognize that Christians are taking stands against oppression and injustice because they follow Christ who did the same.

To this end, our students have created three new groups that are built upon the idea of Intersectional Christianity: Intersect Faith and Justice Cohort, fEMPOWER Feminist Bible Study, and Open Doors LGBTQ+/Allies Home Group. Intersect is a collaborative project between Open Worship at FUMC and the Denton Wesley Foundation and gathers twice a month for Contextual Bible Study, an exegetical, justice-oriented methodology developed by Christian theologians and activists in postcolonial South Africa, and for planning for organizing, action, and mobilization of faith communities. At their first meeting, the group read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as a text about hospitality to the immigrant and stranger and decided to host a film screening of Documented, the story of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented American Jose Antonio Vargas, followed by a panel discussion. At the screening, held on Sept. 24, immigration attorney Robbie Torrey and UNT student Joshua Norman presented their views on DACA and helped us learn how we can take action on SB4 and support DACA students. First United Methodist Church - Denton member Clay Thurmond also helped some of our students register to vote in Denton County! Intersect is open to the community and will meet again on Sun., Oct. 8, at 7pm at the Wesley to talk about silenced voices and how the Church can bring to light these voices on the issues of immigration and Title IX.

Additionally, our students discovered that there are few resources for group Bible studies about feminism - so they decided to create their own. fEMPOWER gathers on the first Tuesday of every month at 4pm to write a feminist Bible study that they hope to publish and make available to other groups. Also on Tuesdays, Open Doors, a Home Group for LGBTQ+ students and allies co-facilitated by Lindsay Holifield and UNT Spiritual Life Director Elijah Cumpton, meets at 6:30 and is a life-giving space for many in our community. Furthermore, our students have participated in a Tuesday-night worship series called, "Christianity Is a Verb," in which we explored how Christianity ought to fundamentally action-oriented as we seek to follow Christ in radically loving, creating, seeing, and changing in this world.

Finally, UNT student Ash Milam and Student Minister Baylee Davis recently attended a weekend retreat with Synergy, the Wesley group at UTD, and the Wesleyan at Texas A&M - Commerce, where the theme was "Christ of the Intersections." Milam was asked to speak at evening worship, where they delivered a stirring charge to follow Christ into asking tough, reflective questions about how we benefit from power that harms others and how we can join in deep solidarity with others by rejecting the kind of power the world offers. Davis led the group in musical worship, playing beautiful music while the students created and connected with the Divine at prayer stations.

We invite you to follow us on Facebook as we post updates about how our students are creating, and we humbly ask that you support this essential work by praying for courage, conviction, protection, and encouragement for our Wesley students, as well by prayerfully considering how you can give of your gifts, time, and finances to our efforts in Intersectional Christianity.

$600 Raised in "We Built This City" Campaign!

Here's a riddle for you: What do rock stars, bricks, and paint have in common?

Answer: They all played a huge role in raising a significant amount of funds for the Denton Wesley Foundation during this September's North Texas Giving Day! In our inaugural year participating in this regional day of support for local non-profits, our campaign was called "We Built This City," with the idea being that your support is helping build the Wesley and in turn build a vital, vibrant, and active Christianity, embodied by our students, that can transform the city of Denton. For the campaign, every donor was given a "rock star name", which was painted on a brick in our Shiloh Food Pantry room to forever record the "stars" that helped build the Wesley into what it is called to be.

We also hosted The Awkward Stage, the Wesley's Open Mic Night, that evening, which brought in around 40 students to enjoy or perform live music and poetry. Headlining the event were poet Jacie Wright and musical duo Baylee Davis and Coby Vandenberg.

A huge thank-you to all of our donors and supporters for believing in and funding the ministries of the Denton Wesley Foundation! You truly are rock stars, and we could not "build this city" without you!

Wesley MOOYAH Fest 2017!

Sunday, Nov. 12th, 12-7pm

2530 West University Drive

Denton, TX

Your appetite for burgers, fries, and shakes can raise money for the Denton Wesley Foundation! If you can eat, you can be a Wesley Fundraising Champ! All you have to do is purchase food at the MOOYAH off of University Dr. in Denton any time between 12pm and 7pm on Sun., Nov. 12, and place your receipt in the container marked "Denton Wesley Foundation." MOOYAH will donate a portion of the ticket sales to the Denton Wesley! What more delicious way is there to raise money for our organization?

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Intersect Receives a Peace with Justice Grant

Twice a year, the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church awards a financial grant of up to $1000 to select programs and ministries that strive to end injustice in our communities. This fall, the Denton Wesley Foundation, in partnership with Jonathan Perry and Krystal Stroud of Open Worship at First United Methodist Church - Denton, launched Intersect Faith and Justice Cohort to form a community of Christ-followers who are doing robust intersectional theology and theologically-inspired activism. In support of Intersect's mission and vision, the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church selected this program to be one of the recipients of a $1000 grant, with potential for additional funds in the spring based on Intersect's progress.

Twice a month, Intersect meets for Contextual Bible Study, reading Scripture as a tool for social and personal transformation and planning actions that are informed by our reading of Scripture. Contextual Bible Study utilizes the See-Judge-Act methodology of liberation theology, in which we start by analyzing our local context, explore the many ways we can interpret the Bible to speak into our context, and discuss how God compels us to respond actively and justly. Intersect has already hosted one large event - film screening and discussion about DACA, and plans to hold other such events to urge our reflection and action about current threats to marginalized groups, including the creation of a Denton Prayer and Justice Walk.

Intersect is open to any and all interested persons who are willing to dialogue respectfully and open-mindedly about sensitive issues and matters of faith.

Christmas Gala and Silent Auction

Saturday, Dec. 2nd, 6:30-9:30pm

1501 Maple Street

Denton, TX

All supporters of the Denton Wesley Foundation and their guests are invited to celebrate the Christmas season with dinner, a silent auction, a live band, dancing, and more! Come hear a word about the work God is doing in and through our ministry, dance the night away to Christmas music, purchase some wonderful Christmas presents at the Silent Auction (teaser: there will be pro sports event tickets!), view and buy student art, enjoy our hot chocolate bar, and eat a delicious dinner in a warm, festive setting at the Denton Wesley. RSVPs strongly encouraged.

We are currently soliciting donations for the Silent Auction. For every item you donate, we will enter your name in a drawing for a Visa gift card! Contact Haley at if you can donate to the auction!

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

What We're Celebrating...

  • UNT Senior Haley Love was recently hired as the Junior High Youth Minister at Trietsch Memorial United Methodist Church in Flower Mound, TX. Congrats, Haley!
  • Shiloh Food Pantry served over 250 students during the month of September. Thank you to all of our volunteers, donors, and Shiloh Intern Katrina Krauss!
  • The Denton Wesley Foundation has, for the first time in recent history, an intramural team at UNT! They are concluding their flag football season and will be starting volleyball soon. They do a great job of showing up to each game, are having a ton of fun, and are bursting out with some glimmers of brilliance. Way to go, Wesley Wildcats!
  • Thanks to the efforts of the Wesley's Hands & Feet Emergency Response Team and the generosity and passion of Denton-area students and residents, we raised around $300 for Hurricane Harvey Relief. Hands & Feet will be pursuing Emergency Response training for its volunteers, planning additional fundraisers, and forming long-term supportive relationships with those affected by the recent storms.
  • A team of supporters from Argyle United Methodist Church, led by Paul and Sue Herring, has adopted the Denton Wesley as one of their ministries in which they want to be heavily and prayerfully involved. To this end, they are purchasing food and collecting food donations for Shiloh Food Pantry, volunteering on Shiloh days, work as Free Lunch servers every Thursday, and cooking for Free Lunch when our talented Kitchen Manager, Kathy Edman, is gone. Thank you, Argyle UMC!