Collegiate Connection Launches

Date Posted: 8/24/2017

There’s an easy new way for churches to stay in touch with their college students and seamlessly connect them with Wesley Foundation leaders.
The famous “Who’s on first?” comedy routine finds humor in the confusion of keeping up with baseball players. In a similar fashion, Wesley Foundations struggle every year to know, “Who’s attending our college and what churches are they from?”
With the launch of a new tool known as the Collegiate Connection, that age old dilemma of keeping track of college students once they leave their home church is much simpler. The Collegiate Connection captures contact information on students and provides it in a centralized spot for college campus ministries to access. According to Rev. Elizabeth Duffin, Associate Director of the TAC Center for Clergy Excellence, there have been long-running conversations within the conference office and at the local churches about how to best keep in touch with students coming out of youth groups as they go to college. “This format allows the contact information for graduating seniors to be entered electronically and sent directly to the campus pastor at the school they’ll be attending,” shares Elizabeth. “I’m excited to see how it works this year, and excited to provide students with someone nearby to talk with if they feel called into ministry.”
Clint Wyllie, youth director for Kingwood UMC, knows the benefits of this new system firsthand, as he sees 30+ students graduate out of his youth group in an average year. “I have made an investment in the lives of my students over the years and feel a deep connection, almost like a parent seeing a child leave the nest,” he says. “I love the idea of them flying right into the loving arms of a Wesley Foundation campus pastor who will continue to nurture them in their next steps.” Clint knows that the college world will be bombarding the students with options ranging from parties to fraternities to other distractions, making this connection all the more important.  “I love setting our students and Wesley Foundations up for success,” he adds. “There is a huge benefit in our connectional system that we have underutilized in previous years.”
 Wesley campus ministers are particularly enthusiastic about this new process. “Every year, all of us in campus ministry are anxious to learn who will be coming to our colleges from United Methodist churches,” shares Dr. Sunny Farley, director of Wesley House Tyler. In the past, she says it has been difficult for campus ministers to get this information in a reliable and timely manner due to a decentralized process that would vary from church to church. Notes Sunny, “The exciting thing is that the Collegiate Connection will allow us to connect with these incoming students quickly and invite them to all we have to offer at our campus ministries - from fellowship events to worship services to Bible studies to the ever-popular free lunches!”
“Local congregations sometimes spend close to two decades investing in our youth. Sending them off to college is such a pivotal time in their life.  This tool will allow youth workers, parents, pastors, small group leaders, Sunday school teachers, and most essentially, the students a quick and effective connection to the campus ministries,” says Eddie Erwin, TAC Young Adult Ministries Director.