By: Jill Apple
The United Methodist Campus Ministry at the University of Minnesota, the Wesley Foundation, is thriving with two new leaders on the staff. Students are preaching sermons, serving the community, and exploring their faith with this campus ministry.
Lauren Rheingans joins staff as campus minister
Lauren Rheingans joined the staff in the late summer to serve as campus minister. She hit the ground running with energy and enthusiasm and quickly engaged with Wesley students. “The students in this community are invested—they care for the ministry, and they care for each other. From day one, they warmly welcomed me in and the fun began.”
A graduate of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Rheingans found her sense of calling to campus ministry while serving University Christian Ministry (a joint Methodist and Presbyterian campus ministry) at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She especially enjoys journeying with students as they strive to form their identities and claim their faith as their own. Most interested in relational ministry, Rheingans also has experience in a parish setting serving as Director of Congregational Care at Community UMC in Naperville, Illinois. Rheingans is a United Methodist clergy candidate preparing for ordination as a deacon.
Connecting students with opportunities to explore faith
Tuned-in to the interests and culture of young adults, Rheingans developed programming that was a hit with the Wesley students. Earlier in the fall, she launched a sermon series on the theological themes found in the Broadway musical, Hamilton. Playing on the shows memorable songs, one week she preached on “History Has its Eyes on You: Finding Your Place in the Narrative of Faith.”
In October, Rheingans led the students on a weekend retreat to Camp Koronis in Paynesville, MN. “We took a much-needed pause from the chaos of midterms and life on campus. I am in awe of the depth, kindness, and joy that these students exude.”
Wesley students are actively engaged in the leadership of the ministry. In addition to serving as officers, they prepare the meals for community dinners, staff an open study/community lounge, and assist in Sunday evening worship. One Carlson School of Business student recently shared her gifts and preached a sermon. “It was a beautiful message about her faith journey, reconciliation, grace, and the connection between her two passions, Jesus and accounting.”
Rheingans welcomes opportunities to connect pastors and United Methodist communities in the Twin Cities with the Wesley Foundation students. For example, Tyler Sit talked to Wesley students about the New City Church, his new church plant in Minneapolis. Ruth Ann Marks, a member of Prospect Park UMC, was also a recent guest. She engaged the students in a conversation about her graduate research exploring ways to discuss climate justice in faith based settings.
In early November, Rheingans journeyed with two Wesley students to the national United Methodist “Exploration” conference in Portland, OR. The Minnesota students joined other young adults from across the United Methodist connection to explore their callings, meet with representatives from seminaries, and imagine how they can become leaders in their campus communities. Rheingans described the event as “life-giving and inspirational.” She and the students returned to Minnesota tired, but filled with hope and excitement after seeing the next generation of the church in action.
Jill Apple joins staff as development director
Adding to the leadership of the Wesley Foundation, Jill Apple joined the staff in early November as development director. Apple is a former member of the Wesley Foundation Board of Directors, is an active leader at Advent UMC in Eagan and brings experience working in seminary admissions, college admissions, and college counseling. Apple is passionate about supporting the mission of campus ministry and looks forward to both the fund-raising and friend-raising aspects of her work. “We have a strong core group of supporters called “The Friends of Wesley,” and I hope to increase their awareness and involvement with the Foundation as well as spread the word wider about this amazing ministry for students at the University of Minnesota.”
The Wesley Foundation enjoys a prime spot in the Dinkytown neighborhood in Minneapolis across University Avenue from the East Bank campus, which provides easy access for students. All events take place in the space located in the University Baptist Church, 1219 University Ave SE, Minneapolis. In addition to a daily open study lounge, weekly events include Tuesday afternoon Bible study, Thursday evening theological discussion, Friday game night, Sunday evening community dinner and worship. All are welcome to attend.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church