It’s Us or Them: Campus Ministry at Texas Tech by Roger Loyd

 

In his excellent history of the Northwest Texas Conference (And are we yet alive?), historian David J. Murrah devotes a section to what he calls “the camping war.” He explains that, beginning in 1970, the conference began to offer alternative camps for senior high youth, one that came to be called “One Way” for more evangelical youth, the other was offered as the “traditional” camp, with its staff being known as the conference’s liberals, including me. As Murrah narrates it,

 

This issue, more than any others, became a dividing point that forced churches and individuals to make a distinct choice between “evangelical” and “liberal.” That issue was the conference’s summer camping program. (Murrah, 186-187)

 

During my three years of pastoral ministry in Northwest Texas (1971-74), I had been an active staff member of the traditional camps for high school youth. The bishop and cabinet, in June 1974, appointed me as the United Methodist campus minister for Texas Tech University, carrying with it the title, Director of the Wesley Foundation, as well as responsibilities for teaching in the religion department of Texas Tech, made up of its campus ministers. I gladly accepted the appointment and moved my family from Levelland to Lubbock.

 

As I described to Murrah, the conference’s polarization affected the Wesley Foundation greatly. Though we made every effort to include students of all persuasions, recruiting them from United Methodist churches in the conference and beyond, the students who came to the Wesley Foundation were typically not those from more conservative congregations. About the work that my predecessor Gene Sorley and I did, Murrah quotes another distinguished historian, McMurry’s Robert Monk, who said,

 

Both Gene and Roger were trained in the newer theologies and were certainly better attuned to the changes in student perspective. … But their theologies tended to represent the ‘liberal’ positions in the conference theology. (Murrah, 251)

 

Murrah proceeds to document the disagreement by discussing the ministries to college students offered through St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, whose pastor was Ed Robb (a founder of the Good News movement). Murrah explains,

 

The Texas Tech Wesley Foundation found itself competing with Robb’s church for students. “[Robb] was very clear that he was pulling in a whole other direction than I was pulling,” [Loyd] said, “and neither of us would change what we were doing.” (Murrah, 251)

 

With this sort of push-and-pull going on, I neither had time nor interest to look to the wider world of campus ministry outside of Texas, so being asked to prepare this document on my relationship with the National Campus Ministry Association is frankly a bit unusual, but sooner or later I often do what my friend Betsy Alden asks of me. I certainly know and respect many of my campus ministry colleagues around the country.

 

What did campus ministry at Texas Tech involve? First and foremost, it was an effort to connect with the students at the university, both those who identified as Methodist and others as well. We offered a varied program, including a weekly meal and discussion, worship opportunities, off-campus retreats to Sacramento and Ceta Canyon Methodist camps, summer hikes with students in the New Mexico and Colorado mountains, special events such as film festivals and late-Saturday-night viewing parties for “Saturday Night Live” … as well as instruction in courses in New Testament and Old Testament, which students could take for credit through Texas Tech. Moreover, we prepared the musical “Celebrate Life!” for public presentation (in the basement of our Wesley Foundation, where we had a large room with a stage), and involved about fifty people as actors, musicians, director, stagehands, and the like. As best I recall now, we offered the musical three times, to good crowds. I also remember quite well the storeroom downstairs, in which was a full run of Motive Magazine, a vanguard Methodist periodical which went out of business in 1972 after publishing an issue written and edited by lesbians and feminists.

 

Looking back through the reports I submitted to the Northwest Texas conference, as found in the conference minutes of my years at Tech (1974-80), I also see that building maintenance and repair was a frequent topic. After all, the Wesley Foundation building had been built in 1950, through a generous gift from Dr. and Mrs. M. C. Overton of First Methodist Church, but needed continuing attention to such matters as a new roof, new linoleum in the basement (for which the students and I removed the old, asbestos-laden tile by hand, with straight-edged hoes, carrying it out to the alley and dumping it into the city’s garbage bins by the barrelful), and updating and repairing the Wesley Lodge (a retreat center at nearby Buffalo Springs Lake owned by the Wesley Foundation), for which I was manager and schedule coordinator.

 

The 1978 report mentioned an event, World Hunger Emphasis Day, at Tech, sponsored by all of Tech’s campus ministry groups, during which students fasted for 30 hours, donating the proceeds to an offering for CROP. It notes that State Senator Kent Hance spoke to the students during the event. (Conference Minutes, 1978, 141)

 

An excerpt from the 1979 report further illustrates the kind of campus ministry we offered:

 

But even more, the Wesley Foundation is people. Campus minister Roger Loyd, his staff, the people of the Wesley Foundation board, the students, the international groups, community groups, and many others… people who matter, being served by the Wesley Foundation. For instance, the Sunday night supper and worship time has more than doubled in attendance, because of the warmth of relationships existing among the people involved. Every activity is co-led, with one student leader aiding the campus minister in planning and carrying out the program. (Conference Minutes, 1979, 15)

 

The 1980 report lists various features of my campus ministry: “as teacher, as counselor, as United Methodist Student Loan officer, as group leader, as guest preacher, as one who is available to students and other Tech people.” (Conference Minutes, 1980, 166) The same report notes that John Rakestraw, Jr., was on the staff of the Wesley Foundation in an unusual combination of duties, as campus ministry associate and part-time secretary!

 

During the years 1979-80, I was also called upon to be the part-time executive for the Texas Commission on Campus Ministry. My predecessors had been Wallace Chappell and George Yates, who passed along the records of that organization to me. When I became a member of the library staff of Bridwell Library at Southern Methodist University, I donated that collection to the library. Anyone wishing further information about the TCCM can consult their online guide at http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/smu/00184/smu-00184.html (a statewide resource on higher education assembled by the library of the University of Texas). Robert Monk, himself a former campus minister, provided a helpful historical note to the records as well as putting the materials into folders and providing other assistance to the Bridwell Library staff.

 

One may look back at the whole history of the Wesley Foundation at Texas Tech from its founding in 1935 by going to its website. As they celebrated their 75th year of service in 2010, they gathered historical information and presented it at the following location: http://ttuwesley.org/who-we-are/our-history

 

Moreover, the current leaders of the Wesley Foundation provided a helpful list of the campus ministers to the present, at the following location: http://www.friendsofwesley.com/leadership-by-era/  On that website, both Gene Sorley’s and my names are misspelled. The full list is as follows:

 

1935-65: Cecil Matthews

1965-74: Gene Sorley

1974-80: Roger Loyd

1980-89: Steve Moore

1989-95: Stan McKinnon

1995-2000: Andy Hurst

2001-08: Greg Haseloff

2008-present: Al Martin

 

From 1980 forward, the Wesley Foundation has clearly been identified with the more conservative theological parts of the conference. Its leaders have all graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary, where it has sent many of its graduates to prepare for ministry in Northwest Texas and beyond. Though I have characterized this group as “them” in my comments, I believe that they are doing their ministry to honor God and to serve Jesus Christ and his Church as best they can, as of course I did also.

 

As I reflect on those years of my life, the one regret I have is the requirement by SMU that I keep my appointment to Bridwell Library secret until June 1, 1980 (because the Board of Trustees had not yet voted its approval). The result was that I was unable to bid farewell to my students, my staff, or my board, but had to rely on letters to them instead. We were able to say good-bye to St. John’s United Methodist Church, our across-the-street neighbor and strongest supporting congregation, and its excellent pastor, Ted Dotts; our families’ friendship continues to this day.

 

Fortunately, the technology available now makes re-connecting with many of those students and others quite simple, through electronic mail and social media.

 

Roger L. Loyd

(Retired) Director of the Divinity School Library, Duke University, Durham, NC

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