Featured club: Wesley Fellowship Worship

Ben Glick

Wesley Fellowship Worship at Grand Valley State University hopes to bring an educated perspective on worship and scripture to help GVSU’s Christian students discover and develop their faith with interaction and collaboration.

Services include music, prayer, scripture reading and discussion, and they take place in Area 51 of the Kirkhof Center from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. every Wednesday, with a reception beginning at 8:30 p.m.

Wesley Fellowship Worship is a Methodist devotional system that operates on the Wesleyan Quadrilateral — a methodological device attributed to 18th century Methodist leader John Wesley. The method breaks down worship into four quadrants, which are used for the basis of worship. These include scripture, tradition, reason and experience.

“What’s different about our worship service is typically there is a person who preaches and gives a sermon. We don’t do that,” said Greg Lawton, director of Wesley Fellowship Worship at GVSU. “We present an idea and then people talk about it. People who come to worship actually talk about the idea rather than one person telling them what to think or believe. We listen to each other.”

Wesley Fellowship has operated since the fall of 2012 and is the recent incarnation of like-minded campus ministries that started in 1999. The common thread along its evolution has been a focus on looking at Christian scripture critically and giving students the ability to develop their own worldview.

“My goal is to help our worshippers learn how to think critically and help apply those things to their faith lives and daily lives,” Lawton said.

Every two weeks this semester, Wesley Fellowship has focused on one of these four quadrants to help members make life decisions accordingly. Each semester also focuses on a different portion of the Bible.

Wesley Fellowship, while affiliated with the United Methodist Church, does not require membership with a previous religious organization and is open to all students.

“Part of who we are is to treat everyone fairly. Being open to everyone is a core value. We’re supported by the United Methodist Church, but there’s no prerequisite,” Lawton said.

Religious groups at GVSU are not a recent innovation, nor are they few or far between. What Wesley Fellowship leaders and member think sets their organization apart is its inclusiveness.

“I think our niche is that we are open to people of a variety of experiences, backgrounds and even people who may not have a very strong faith background,” Lawton said. “Theologically, we are not dogmatic. I’m not going to tell you as the leader what to think or believe. I’d rather help you discover what you believe.”

Others think that the success of the group lies in its hospitality.

“I’ve heard several times from students who come back that people actually greeted us and remembered our name and something other than that about us,” said volunteer pastor Cory Young. “I think that’s a real strength for the ministry is that we try to connect with people and not just say ‘look at our numbers,’ but look at the quality of people we have.”

In addition to weekly meetings, Wesley Fellowship is also involved in many upcoming campus activities, including ExtravaGRANDza.

On April 9 at 8 p.m., Wesley Fellowship will host an open mic night where students can share music, poetry, art and comedy. Open to all students, the group hopes to make it an interfaith event. The menu will be accommodated to receive students of varying faith backgrounds.

Wesley Fellowship will also participate in Faiths United for a Cure, a Relay for Life team that crosses religious boundaries to combat cancer.

Through these events and the worship service, the organization hopes to make a positive impact on students and the GVSU community.

“We just want to have a good time and walk in faith together,” said Kinnith Gibbs, president of the Wesley Fellowship.

Moreover, the organization hopes to include the input of all students and use it to help improve the group as a whole.

“If you happen to not believe, we still entertain that also because it teaches us something,” Kinnith said. “We hope to teach everyone else something, also, about what faith means to us, and we take on what faith means to other people.

“We really strive to not fit people into our organization but to make our organization of all the people that come.”

For more information on Wesley Fellowship Worship, visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/gvwesley.