April 2022

Dear Wesley friends,

As you may have heard by now, this is my final semester serving as Wesley’s campus minister.  What an absolute gift and joy it has been to serve here in ministry with you.  Thank you for the opportunity and the support!

This is my 21st year serving in campus ministry, the last 18 as clergy under appointment, and the last 17 as Wesley’s director.   Wow!  During my time at Wesley, we experienced the September 11th attacks and the wars that followed; hurricane Katrina (and a spring break service trip there to help); an earthquake on the first day of classes; the rise of social media; an attempted removal from office of UVA’s president; white supremacists marching here in 2017; re-naming of multiple buildings on Grounds and the installation of the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers; the removal of the Honor Code’s “single sanction,” and, of course, the ongoing pandemic.  We have also experienced becoming the first Reconciling campus ministry in the Virginia Conference; winning the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship in 2019; handing out hundreds of #LoveYourNeighbor stickers to new students at the annual Activities Fair; interfaith service trips and gatherings with our friends from Hillel; hosting McDonald Lecture guests like Nadia Bolz-Weber, Jan Richardson, James Lawson, and Michael Twitty; Wesley’s first-ever capital campaign raising over $1 million and completing two phases and a pandemic-era patio addition debt-free; and well over 20 “Wesley weddings.”  And we have sent students to seminary, Peace Corps work, teaching, family life, government service, and every corner of the world.

Context matters, especially in campus ministry. We have four lightning-quick years to meet and befriend students as they pass through. World events, personal upheavals and accomplishments, and developing relationships with God, unfold in unique ways for each student. As I prepare to leave and as you prepare to welcome a new campus minister for Wesley’s next stages in ministry, I am appreciating all that has happened here, in the world, and in our students’ lives during these years.

And I am thankful for the vision our conference once had, to build places like Wesley—outposts of the church at universities around our state—which make the bold statement that college is fertile, holy ground for faith development and that the Church takes students seriously.  I am thankful to those who came before me in this position:  John Patton, Emmett Wilkerson, Gerry Vaiden, Jim McDonald, Barry Penn Hollar, Brooke Willson, Jan Rivero, and Alex Joyner, who called me 21 years ago and said, “I know you just started a job, but…”

At my ordination, my hands rested on the bible, opened to the book of Esther. You remember the story of the “replacement queen” who ended up being ideally situated “for such a time as this,” and who helped to save the Jewish people (Esther 4:14).  Esther’s story has resonated with mine as I wound my way back to Charlottesville and Wesley, ending up in just the right place at the right time.  And now it’s time for someone else to lead.

I am thankful for what has been and for what’s to come, for Wesley and for me.  

As of July 1, I will be appointed to attend school in the York River District. I have been admitted into William & Mary’s graduate program in mental health counseling, after which I anticipate serving as a pastoral counselor.  This move also enables us to be with my mom, a particular blessing after losing my dad so unexpectedly in 2020.

It has been a blessing to visit district churches and to welcome you bringing meals to students each week (and helping us pay for restaurant meals in the pandemic). It’s been a joy to connect and re-connect with so many alumni and friends over my years in campus ministry.  I look forward to seeing you around the Conference and to sharing in your good news and life updates from time to time.  Feel free to reach me at: deborahlewis AT vaumc.org.

Stay tuned for more news coming soon, announcing Wesley’s new Director & Campus Minister.  And thanks in advance for your warm welcome and support for the Director and for Wesley in the next stages of this wonderful ministry.

The peace of Christ be ever with you,

The Rev. Deborah E. Lewis

Director & Campus Minister

Position opening: Campus Minister/Director

Wesley UVA is a strong, fun, challenging, vital campus ministry, and we are now looking for our next Campus Minister & Director! The search process is coordinated through the Virginia Conference Learning Ministries Office and you can see the position announcement below, along with links to the job description and full information and timeline regarding the search process.

The Virginia Conference Learning Ministries Office in partnership with the Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry announces the job opening for The Wesley Foundation at UVA Campus Minister/Director. A successful candidate for this position will be a creative and visionary leader who provides pastoral and relational care, relates well to students, and crafts a nurturing and welcoming environment for all whom they encounter. Resumes are being accepted now and will continue to be accepted until February 28, 2022. Click here for a detailed job description (pdf). Submit your application with cover letter, resume, and three references to Rev. Nickie Moreno Howard, Associate Director of Learning Ministries at learning@vaumc.org.

Specific questions may be directed to Rev. Nickie Moreno Howard (learning@vaumc.org), Associate Director of Learning Ministries for VAUMC or Rev. David Vaughan (davidvaughan@vaumc.org) Chair, Wesley Foundation at UVA Board of Directors.

Black Lives Matter to Wesley

As United Methodists, we take baptismal vows promising to “accept the freedom God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever ways they present themselves.” Therefore, we see it as our duty to speak out against the injustices we witness today. The death of George Floyd added yet another name to the list of Black people unjustly killed by police. This horrific incident is just one example of the systemic racism present in all aspects of our country since its founding, and justice is long overdue. We at the Wesley Foundation at UVA understand that racism is historically and structurally grounded sin that hinders our personal relationships with Jesus Christ and our UVA community.

The Wesley Foundation’s calling is toserve God’s diverse community here at the University of Virginia, and we have previously and proudly proclaimed what we feel in our hearts: that every person is wonderfully made, valued, and loved by God. At this moment, it is important that we are explicit that Black lives matter: to the world, to the body of Christ, and to the community at the Wesley Foundation at UVA. 

 We also understand that simply stating our support is not enough. We condemn white supremacy and commit ourselves to anti-racist work alongside our Black siblings in Christ. We are proud of the members of our community that are speaking up, educating themselves, donating to organizations, signing petitions, and participating in protests. We want our Black siblings to know that we see you. We hear you. And we stand beside you in the fight for justice and equality. 

God commands us not only to “love our neighbors as ourselves,” (Mark 12:31) but also to “speak on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable” (Proverbs 31:6). The Wesley Foundation at UVA will use our voice on grounds to amplify the voices of the Black community. We will work to understand their unique experiences. We also know that racism is deeply ingrained in our University’s and our denomination’s past and present, and we must understand and utilize our privilege to create a better community for those they have marginalized. We know that we have a lot to learn, but we want to be clear that we are learning, growing, and listening. We are committed to doing better and doing more to uphold our responsibility to support our Black neighbors at UVA and beyond. 

In solidarity and love,

The Wesley Foundation at UVA 

Wesley remote ministry to begin

ALL in-person events and group gatherings are cancelled until further notice.  

This includes worship, here and at Wesley Memorial UMC, next door.

*Check back next week for online gatherings.*

Wesley friends,
I know this isn’t how we thought spring break would go. I know this louses up a lot of cherished and long-anticipated plans.  I know how much I will miss being with you all in person in the coming weeks.
And I know that we can handle it.  Or, as Wesley student president Justice Allen put it, “While this is definitely a mess, I know we can find some good ways to stay in ministry.”  
Though it’s surprising-inconvenient-scary-isolating, all of this is one of the ways we continue to live out our call to ministry by loving our neighbors.  Practicing careful personal hygiene and “social distancing” is something every single one of us can do every day. (See the links and reminders, below.) Sometimes loving our neighbors looks like actively trying to slow down a disease raging through communities around the world.
To put it another way, “Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body” (I Corinthians 12:14-16). We are connected to one another as human beings, each one a child of God and made in the image of God. Some of us and some of the people we love are those who fall into the categories of people especially vulnerable to this virus.  Some of us are those who fall into the less vulnerable categories.  We belong to one another. We owe it to the entire community—the whole body—to look out for and care for one another.  It may take some time to get there in our thinking, but the sacrifices of this semester are best understood in this context.
Justice is right.  Wesley will continue to be in ministry with one another from a distance. Student leaders are meeting (online) before online-classes begin and will update you next week about our new weekly schedule and online hangouts.  Wesley is still here for you and for any other students who are feeling the need for extra community: please invite friends to join our email list and/or share our online links with folks you know.
And I am still here for you.  I will be setting up “online office hours” when you can “stop by” and talk informally via phone or computer.  I will also continue to be available for one-on-one pastoral conversation (via phone or computer).  I won’t be able to buy you a coffee but we can both drink a cup while we chat;) Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to talk—I know all of this is a lot to process.
Please take extra good care of yourself and your loved ones, and look out for others in your neighborhood who may need some extra help right now. And wash those hands!
Rev. Deborah Lewis
Director & Campus Minister
#LoveYourNeighbor #FlattenTheCurve  #OneBody #HelloZoom #WesleyUVA #UMC

Basic guidelines for ALL during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday to yourself twice), especially before preparing or eating food and after using the bathroom.

Use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) when soap and water are not available.

Avoid touching your face (eyes, ears, nose, especially).

If you cough/sneeze/blow your nose, do so into a tissue or the crease of your elbow.  Then wash your hands again, as described above.

Keep your hands moisturized.  (They will become chapped from all the washing and viruses can enter the damaged skin in those places.)

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

If you are sick, stay home.

Clean and disinfect “high-touch” items (doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, cell phones, keyboards, etc.) and surfaces (desk, table, countertop, etc.) with a household cleaning spray or wipe.

The CDC does not recommend using a face mask to protect yourself—unless you are already sick, in order to protect others.

The main symptoms of the novel coronavirus are fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  If you are experiencing these, call your health care provider immediately.

Please be aware that the suspected incubation period for this virus is 2 weeks, which means anyone can be in contact with many other people while appearing to be well.
Resources for staying informed 

Worship online—A list of churches around the Virginia Conference with links to online worship services: http://www.vaumc.org/ncfilerepository/News2020/LivestreamChurches.pdf 
CDC info and guidance:
On the importance of discouraging non-essential public gatherings and slowing down the spread of the virus (“flattening the curve”):

Free, no-subscription info related to coronavirus from The Washington Post and The New York Times:

UVA’s special website for this crisis, including FAQs: https://www.virginia.edu/coronavirus?fbclid=IwAR2uW04iPT2kihDaKoTN6UjX-XYwOCcHeypEojN7Nb4LOan3t16d4_BfEEY

Voices from the Wilderness: An Advent Devotional

LGBTQ students, alumni and friends of the Wesley Foundation at UVA are collaborating to provide a collection of daily devotions to help all persons—gay or straight, conservative or progressive, and everything in between—nurture and grow their faith. Allow this Advent season to bring Light into the darkness as these silenced voices offer insight and understanding of our shared journeys of faith.

We are pleased to amplify these voices and to offer the devotional to you for a small donation to support the mission and ministry of the Wesley Foundation at UVA.  Perhaps you want to share this with a small group or Sunday school class in your church?  We encourage that! 

Suggested minimum donation per download/copy:
1 download: $10 minimum donation
5-10 downloads: $20 minimum donation 
11-50 downloads: $35 minimum donation
51-100 downloads: $50 minimum donation 
101+ downloads $75 minimum donation 

Two ways to donate and receive your copy of the devotional:

  1. Click the UVA Fund link on our website herehttps://wesleyatuva.org/annual-giving/ Write “Advent” in the “in honor of” box.
  2. By mail to “Wesley Foundation at UVA”/ 1908 Lewis Mountain Road/Charlottesville, VA/22903.  Write “Advent” on your check’s memo line.

Voices from the Wilderness will be available beginning November 15th.  Make your donation any time and we will email you a pdf version of the devotional once it is available (so please be sure to include your email address when you give online and when you give by check).  Thank you!

At Wesley all means ALL

“You are beloved and you are welcome here.”

The United Methodist Church’s General Conference 2019 was rough. A couple weeks after GC ended, a student asked if we could consider becoming officially affiliated with the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN), which supports and works for full inclusion for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. He convened a writing group and drafted our welcoming statement, which was approved and adopted by our student leadership and our Board of Directors, which voted unanimously to join RMN. Wesley UVA is the first Reconciling campus ministry in the Virginia Conference.

Here’s our welcoming statement:

Every Sunday, the Wesley Foundation at the University of Virginia gathers around the altar table to celebrate communion. We boldly declare that “This is not our table, not the Wesley Foundation’s table, not the United Methodist Church’s table–this is God’s table, and God invites all to the table.” Throughout the week, we seek to live this welcoming spirit into being. We recognize and rejoice that all people are made in God’s image, and that this image is beautifully and wildly diverse.

To serve God’s diverse community here at the University of Virginia, we proudly proclaim what we feel in our hearts: that every person is wonderfully made, valued, and loved by God. We acknowledge and are deeply saddened by the harmful and restrictive language in the United Methodist Book of Discipline. But we also recognize that the Church is not its policies–first and foremost, the Church is God’s people.

And as people of God, the Wesley Foundation at the University of Virginia fully and wholeheartedly welcomes and affirms people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. Because this welcome cannot be in words alone, we further commit to dismantling homophobia, white supremacy, patriarchy, and other oppressive and sinful systems.

With our words and our actions, we hope to unequivocally state: you are beloved and you are welcome here.

Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage

Portugal and Spain
June 26 – July 5, 2020

Join W&M and UVA students and alumni, along with Virginia Conference clergy and friends, for an 80-mile walking pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, beginning in Valença, Portugal, and finishing in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.  The trip will be led by the Revs. David Hindman and Deborah Lewis, with daily presentations and the companionship of Dr. George D. Greenia, internationally acclaimed pilgrimage scholar, person of deep faith, and Professor Emeritus of Modern Languages at The College of William and Mary in Virginia. 

We will walk 10-15 miles per day, staying in pilgrim hostels (albuergues) along the way. Cost per pilgrim is $580, including lodging and welcome dinner; each pilgrim covers their own international travel and daily meals.

Full information and details here.
Apply here by 10/1/19.

Welcome to new and returning students! We have a great semester ahead!

Welcome to Wesley!

New to UVA or to Wesley?  Send us an email or provide your contact info here.  We’d love to reach out and tell you more about Wesley and how you can be involved this year.  (Parents, clergy, friends, alumni, and others:  if you know someone headed to UVA please help us welcome them by making sure we know they are coming.  You may use the links above for connecting us with students, too.)

Not new? Welcome (back to) Wesley!  Whether it’s your first year or fourth, it’s never too late to give Wesley a try.

Here are a few things to look forward to as fall kicks off.  Hope to see YOU at Wesley this fall!


Every week, all semester…

Sundays @ 5pm – Worship  Student-led music, Communion, and a student-oriented message every week. Dress is casual and we’re done before 6pm. (starts 8/25)

Tuesdays @ 6pm – FREE Dinner & Program  Homemade dinners, followed by discussions, hot topics, Bible studies, guest speakers, and other programs.  This is a great way to find out more about what you think, doubt, and believe, while listening for God in the midst of a solid faith community. (starts 8/27)


Welcome Weeks at Wesley…

8/26 @ 11-2pm: Stop by the Wesley table @UVA’s Student Activities Fair – Free swag!

8/29 @ 3:30-4:30pm: Free Starbucks for you  Stop by the Newcomb Starbucks to meet Wesley student President Justice Allen, campus minister Deborah Lewis, and other Wesley folks.  The drinks are on us.  We’ll be hanging out, meeting new folks, taking questions, and enjoying the a/c and the treats for about an hour so come on by!

8/30 @ 5pm: Frisbee on the Lawn  Meet at Wesley to walk over together or just meet up with us on the Lawn.  No previous frisbee experience required.

9/15 @ 11amCampus Minister Deborah Lewis is preaching at Wesley Memorial UMC (next door).  After worship, stick around for the church’s Welcome Picnic, full of delicious, homemade food and friendly folks!

Stay tuned for more from Wesley…

Additional events, small groups and studies, programs, trips, and service opportunities will be announced each week so please join the email list (at the bottom of any page on our website) and like the Facebook page to keep up-to-date throughout the semester.