What began almost three centuries ago at Oxford University in England continues today at Valdosta State University’s Wesley Foundation.
There, a small group of students devoted themselves to lives of service, faith sharing, witnessing, and holy living. They prayed together, studied scripture, and applied what they learned to their daily lives and to social justice.
In much the same way, this fall 12 VSU students who are dedicated to lives of discipleship will move into a new discipleship house to advance the Kingdom of God and be witnesses for Christ on campus.
On Friday, March 27, the VSU Wesley Foundation celebrated the groundbreaking of their Discipleship House, which is slated to be completed in August.
“The culture of discipleship we seek to foster at the Wesley Foundation will be greatly enhanced, as this new building will facilitate discipleship in large group settings, communal living, and one-on-one discipleship,” said Rev. C.J. Harp, VSU Wesley Foundation’s campus minister. “Even more, through the rent from the residential community, the building will generate resources for disciple makers at VSU for decades to come.”
Centrally located on campus, the VSU Discipleship House is being built behind the historic home the Wesley Foundation currently uses as a base of operations. It sits on Patterson Street, directly across from the university’s main administrative building.
When complete, it will contain four rooms dedicated to discipleship, a large community room, and four three-bedroom apartments.
The 12 residents, six young men and six young women, will pay rent comparable to other area apartment complexes. Ministry leaders estimate that $50,000 in income will be generated each year. A portion of that income will be used to pay for routine maintenance on both Wesley Foundation buildings, but the majority will be used to help fund the ministry’s mission staff.
Retired South Georgia pastor Rev. V.L. Daughtery, Jr., a member of the Discipleship House building committee, has been a longtime champion of the ministry and the discipleship house project.
“The Church and its witness for Christ is always one generation from becoming extinct,” he said. “A college and university campus is one of the most strategic locations today where the good news of Jesus Christ can be disciple and disciplined, and devoted persons deter, defeat, and overcome secular threats.”
Rev. Mike Davis, chairman of the Wesley Foundation board of directors and pastor of Pinson Memorial United Methodist Church, sees the Discipleship House as a great opportunity for young Christians to live out their faith and calling.
“This is an awesome opportunity for them to keep each other charged up, prayed up, encouraged, and to go out and spread the good news of Jesus among their peers in an authentic manner,” he said. “To actually get out with an authentic message of hope and love and mercy and grace and all those things that we believe, and to have all of them living that 24/7 is awesome.”
Individuals and local churches have generously supported the Discipleship House project with gifts and pledges, Rev. Harp said. $400,000 in cash and in-kind gifts have been given toward the $700,000 cost. The remaining $300,000 will be financed through the Georgia United Methodist Foundation.
“The Georgia United Methodist Foundation has been great to work with on this project,” Rev. Harp said. “As a ministry-minded entity, they have simplified the process for us as well as having lower costs. Working with them was a no-brainer, and I highly recommend the Georgia United Methodist Foundation to other churches and ministries.”
The goal of the Discipleship House is to create an environment where the students’ focus, after their studies, is on creating a culture of discipleship. Its impact and ministry will be far-reaching, leaders say.
“The groundbreaking ceremony was a historic moment as we celebrated the work God is doing to advance the Kingdom of God,” Rev. Harp said.