Wesley Club students meet to plan the pre-finals Relaxation and Prayer Room event.
A Wesley Club student does table duty to get the word out about the club and the pre-finals Relaxation and Prayer Room.
The Rev. Jennifer Goto, campus minister, center, with students who helped pack Christmas presents for prisoners.
Club members with bags of food they helped pack, to be given out to the hungry.
February 4, 2010
As United Methodist Church congregations are being called to "Rethink Church," the Wesley Foundation, Merced is leading the way. Wesley received materials and inspiration from the Rethink Church campaign to create an event on the University of California/Merced campus. Four students worked together with campus minister, the Rev. Jennifer Goto, to host a Relaxation and Prayer Room on campus the week before finals. For two evenings, December 8 and 9 (2009), 5:30-7:30, they took over a room on campus and transformed it into Holy ground.
Eighty students showed up at the event.
"As they entered they immediately appreciated how tablecloths, battery-operated tea lights, and soft music changed the space and created an instant relaxing setting," Goto says. "Two massage therapists gave students 10-minute chair massages to help rid the tension of studying for finals. We set up a yoga space with mats and teaching for restorative yoga postures.
"We also set up a prayer center with prayer shawls made by the women of the UMC in Merced, and small cards with encouraging Scripture verses. Every student was able to participate at the level they felt comfortable and many stayed in the room for long periods of time.
"For many students who have a negative perception of Christians as always wanting something from them (money, time, allegiance), this was a way to simply give and serve the students. The surprised look of appreciation on their faces as they were able to receive without strings attached allowed me to have the joy of true service," Goto says.
As they left, each received a goodie bag of "brain food," a candle to continue their prayers at home, and a handmade bookmark with information about the Wesley Club.
Because so many students requested it, Goto says the Wesley Club will continue the outreach on a monthly basis throughout the semester.
While the outreach is a clear example of Making Places for New People, the Wesley Club also is actively engaged in Ministry With the Poor and in Developing Leaders. More than 50 UC Merced students showed up to pack 3,900 Christmas packages for inmates at the women's prisons in Chowchilla (an event sponsored by the Inmate Family Council). Club members also helped pack bags of food to be given out to the hungry at Merced UMC.
It's another story of how we're "Living out Our Faith in California-Nevada."