The Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry made a decision Oct. 7 to temporarily close The Wesley Foundation at Florida A&M by next Monday.
The FAMU Wesley Foundation is a United Methodist organization intended to spread the ministry of The United Methodist Church. The group also provides spiritual and emotional support to the university community.
David Fuquay, interim executive director of BHECM said that although the current director of the FAMU Wesley, Tara Seabrook, worked persistently, the nationwide standard for the foundation to engage at least one percent of the campus wasn’t being met.
“The current staff wasn’t able to come up with a viable approach,” Fuquay said. “The purpose of the temporary close is precisely to come
up with a model for ministry that does make a huge impact on campus. We want to involve 50 to 70 students and then grow from there, which obviously requires a different approach.”
Cecile Washington, faculty adviser to the Wesley Foundation, said she disapproves of the foundation closing and the organization’s sabbatical is a result of a cultural diversity issue within the United Methodist church.
Washington claimed that because the church is a predominately White Christian denomination, the United Methodist Church isn’t embracing diversity as a whole.
“I love The United Methodist Church, but I think they are being culturally insensitive to African-American students,” Washington said.
“I don’t think the Board understands how to deal with cultural differences. They claim they want to reach out to African-Americans, but being that FAMU is the largest HBCU it doesn’t make any sense to close (the Foundation).”
According to the United Methodist Demographic Snapshot found on www.umc.org, the Church’s official website, blacks make up 2 percent of the church as a whole.
Fuquay said resources aren’t the issue, and the board recognizes it must come up with a modified strategy to engross students at HBCUs.
“I do expect people involved to be disappointed and upset, but the call of all churches is to make disciples of Jesus Christ,” Fuquay said.
“We’re taking into account the school’s rich history and current student body make up, and we are looking to draw key United Methodist African-American leaders and FAMU alumni to help out.”
Fuquay said the foundation will return to campus in 2013 after reassessing outreach strategies. “We plan on working closely with FAMU alumni to find a new structure and a way to have a significant presence on the FAMU campus.
“I feel confident that, long-term, we are doing the right thing.” The FAMU Wesley Foundation has been ordered to discontinue operations by the end of the month.
The foundation’s facility is located at 1747 South Adams St.