Photo by Andrew Wigdor/MTSU Sidelines
The Wesley Foundation at Middle Tennessee State University has introduced new leadership, Rev. John Weaver and the Rev. Michelle Ozier-Wallace, into the folds of Methodist campus ministry.
As of the fall 2016 semester, Weaver began his responsibilities as Director and Wallace as Associate Director. Michelle Ozier-Wallace, an Auburn Alumni, started her journey with the Wesley Foundation as an undergraduate student.
“Perhaps my most formative experiences while I was at Auburn were with the Wesley Foundation,” Ozier-Wallace said. “I got to the point where I could really claim my faith. It gave me the leadership skills that I was looking for and needed.”
At the end of her college career, Ozier-Wallace was offered an internship opportunity by the director of the Wesley Foundation at Auburn to stay and work with the campus ministry. She was the intern in charge of all missions the same year that the Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast. During that year she led many relief trips to assist the damaged communities.
“It was a very challenging year, but also a very rewarding year,” Wallace stated.
She left Auburn and studied at Columbia University in New York, earning her master’s degree in Applied Sociology and Nutrition.
“People would ask, are you going to go into ministry? And I would just shrug them off,” she said.
Considering the persistence of her friends, she accepted a position as a missionary with the Methodist church in Haiti and then Nicaragua. She entered into seminary school in the Atlanta area, learning about an opportunity at the MTSU Wesley Foundation, and that her long-time friend, John Weaver, was interested in the leadership positions.
John Weaver earned his undergraduate degree at Tennessee Technological University. During his time at the school, Weaver attended the Wesley Foundation ministries.
“So, much of my development and growth in my years at college came from the Wesley Foundation at Tennessee Tech. I realized how important and awesome it was to get involved with campus ministry,” he said. “College campuses are the first place where we get to own our faith.”
After graduating, he attended seminary at Vanderbilt University. Weaver then moved to Auburn after his wife received a job at the university and served as Associate Director at the Auburn Wesley Foundation.
Weaver spoke about his Auburn leadership, saying, “There, I learned how to structure things and how to make our ministry about the students. We would help them lead and be empowered by the foundation.”
From there, he heard about a leadership change near his hometown at the MTSU Wesley Foundation. He was offered the position and decided to confer with Michelle Ozier-Wallace before accepting.
“This is the first place that I felt I really needed to be. Being True Blue is about being a part of a diverse and wonderful community,” Weaver said.
Ozier-Wallace and Weaver discussed a vision for the Wesley Foundation under their leadership, believing that a student oriented foundation would be the most beneficial for the community.
“It’s very easy for a church to get boiled down to the vision of the leader rather than the vision of the community,” Weave said. “We want to provide opportunities for people to share and grow. I think, really, that my job is to develop students in an active journey with Jesus Christ.”
Ozier-Wallace added, “Jon tends to be the thinker and I tend to be the doer. A lot of my role is a supportive role. I give students a place to ponder and helping them problem solve, whether that is faith or life questions. As they transition to a life where they are the person telling themselves what to do, we support them.”
The Wesley Foundation meets on Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m. for worship services and Thursdays for bible studies at 6 p.m. They also offer free lunches every Wednesday from 11 a.m.to 1 p.m.