The Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministries’ mission is to equip young adults to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ toward becoming spiritual leaders who will transform the church and the world through the Wesley Foundations at the United Methodist (UM) campus ministries on selected non-UM-related campuses. They are at Drake University, Iowa State University, The University of Northern Iowa, and The University of Iowa. The Wesley Foundation at Drake University has recently undergone a lot of changes and recently the Board of the Drake Wesley Foundation sold the Wesley House to Drake University and now leases the space from Drake. With the dramatic decrease in funding and the impact of COVID-19, campus ministry continues with a passion for discipling young adults but questions as to where to find sufficient funding.
The Drake Wesley Foundation began as an outreach of Grace Methodist Episcopal Church in Des Moines. The Foundation’s Director was a part-time pastor at Grace and part-time on the Drake campus. When it began decades ago, it was with the passion for outreach to the whole campus, bringing Christ’s love to the students, faculty, and staff, and providing a Methodist presence on campus. In recent years, all the Wesley Foundation directors and college chaplains have noticed increased mental health issues in the student body, requiring more listening, counseling, providing a safe space for rest or peace, and referring students to the proper resources.
Drake Wesley Foundation has been an ongoing and quiet ministry that provides a safe space for students to find relief from the stress of life, support for mental health or victims of violence and assault, and those with spiritual questions. Fifteen recovery groups meet at the Drake Wesley Foundation House, meeting at all times of the day and night and covering many different addictions.
Drake Wesley Foundation director, Rev. Ted Lyddon Hatten, is in a unique position at Drake when comparing his role to other Iowa Wesley Foundation directors. Because Drake is a private university, it lists him as a confidential spiritual counselor available to the whole campus in the school directories.
With 14 years of being on the Drake Campus, the administration has called Lyddon Hatten to organize and lead several campus-wide funerals for suicides in the student body and faculty. After the funerals, he provides a time and place at the campus chapel for grieving and support.
He is called upon 24/7 to respond to crises with students and faculty. He gives a non-anxious presence in a time of much stress in our society and on campuses. He also teaches a class on campus and provides spaces on and off-campus for meditation, grief, counseling, thinking, and discussions.
Lyddon Hatten’s ministry on campus is all about “discipling”-teaching. His strength is helping students, whether atheists or dedicated church attenders, explore faith and find a safe place for asking questions and determining answers that help shape their lives. He and other Iowa United Methodist campus ministers share stories of student’s surprise when they find grace-filled acceptance and love at the Methodist-related campus ministries after finding other non-United Methodistministries to be judgmental and closed to asking questions about faith.
Lyddon-Hatten is also a very talented multi-media artist. One of the ways he uses his art to help students is with a bird he carved out of beautiful wood. On the side of the bird is a large gash that was naturally in the piece of wood he used. The bird is smooth otherwise and is easy to hold in your hand. As students share their feelings, he offers them the bird to show its beauty yet brokenness. Holding this piece of art helps the healing process because they can see and touch the wooden carving with its imperfection and beauty while safely sharing tender feelings.
Reaching children, youth, and young adults is something many local church members and pastors want to support but ministering to and with young adults in 2021 looks different today than in the past. Creative ministry like that of Rev. Ted Lyddon Hatten offers young adults acceptance, love, hope, mentoring, and encouragement at a time in their life when needed the most.
Support for the Wesley Foundations comes from Apportionment giving to Conference Missions, and when not funded sufficiently, life-giving and essential ministries like the Wesley Foundations suffer.
For more information about Apportionment giving, go to www.iaumc.org/apportionmentresources