The igniting of a campus ministry movement


The establishment of the Wesley Foundation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1913 ignited a movement that would eventually become a model for ministry throughout the United States and even globally.

In 1942, the campus ministry at Illinois State Normal University saw an average of 40 students participating in a Sunday night program and between 50 and 200 sharing in a weeknight social program. The campus ministry was located in Normal First Methodist Church where the senior pastor served as director with the assistance of an associate director.

In the fall of 1947, a United Student Christian Foundation was formed on the campus of Western Illinois University. The interdenominational ministry included four sponsoring churches and the cooperative ministry grew to as many as six sponsoring churches in the early 1950’s.

In 1954, the Southern Illinois Annual Conference voted to organize a Wesley Foundation at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. The Foundation was first housed within Carbondale First Methodist Church until a student center could be built nearer to campus.  Ron Seibert was appointed as the first campus minister, a position he held until 1971. In 1972, Seibert was appointed campus minister at Western Illinois University’s Wesley Foundation where he served 20 more years in campus ministry.

In 1959, a Wesley Foundation began as an extension of Charleston First Methodist (now Wesley UMC). Rev. Glenn Wittrip began his duties in April 1959 as associate director working to develop its programming. A few years later, the Foundation became part of a United Campus Ministry group, that included several denominations, including Roman Catholics -- one of the few campus ministries that included both Protestants and Catholics working together to do campus ministry.