Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

July Feature: Home Grown

Feature by Elizabeth Anderson and Beth Michaels

While giving students overseas mission opportunities has been a priority at Washington Adventist University for more than 30 years, nothing supersedes the school’s focus at home through nearly 30 campus ministries

It’s Washington Adventist University’s (WAU) Spiritual Master Plan, established in 2014 by the office of ministry, that acts as the blueprint for all things spiritual on their Takoma Park, Md., campus. Under the plan, faculty and staff nurture students through fellowship, worship, discipleship and service—not only to develop Christ-like individuals but also to leave a positive imprint on local communities.

James Ferry photographed Danielle Barnard, a graduate of Washington Adventist University, in his studio in Columbia, Md. James Ferry photographed Danielle Barnard, a graduate of Washington Adventist University, in his studio in Columbia, Md.

All week WAU offers programs that minister to students’ hearts and souls and prepare them for productive lives. “The DNA of these programs is salvation and service. These ministries are provided to develop a culture of service in students for the many years to come,” says Baraka Muganda, WAU’s first full-time vice president of ministry. “We strongly believe that when our youth fall in love with Jesus, they will be compelled by that love to go and share it with others.”

Weymouth Spence, WAU president, adds that the rich campus ministries program “is blessed by the Holy Spirit.” He says, “Each year the university baptizes numbers of students who have decided to dedicate their hearts to Christ. It gives me so much joy to see students who have fallen in love with Christ for the first time or who are renewing their lives to Him.”

Since 2013, 68 WAU students have been baptized. And, at least 70 percent of 2015 graduates who completed the Spiritual Identity Survey agree they’ve grown closer to Christ and found personal, spiritual meaning while studying at WAU. They also declare to be more dedicated to lives of service.

Below we highlight 18 of the nearly 30 ministries responsible for nurturing WAU’s young disciples:

Crossroads • a student-run service (below) that operates in conjunction with Sligo, the church that abuts the campus. Regina Johnson (’12), WAU chaplain, oversees Crossroads with Vincent Wilson, student leader. Wilson says it’s a place where students can experience soul-searching and growth. He recalls the difficulties one friend, a senior, experienced following a car crash.

During that tough time, Wilson says Crossroads attendees and the basketball team rallied around him with support. “We’ve seen his relationship with Christ kind of grow up to the point where he has talked to me about baptism,” Wilson shares.

_DSC9832PULSE (Pray Until Life Shows Evidence) • a prayer ministry that consists of group prayer, weekly night prayer meetings and Friday night worship services. As prayer leader, 2015 graduate Danielle Barnard says she’d encourage students to view prayer as a chat with a friend.

“Prayer meetings are usually not very well attended in most churches,” says Barnard, a member of Allegheny East Conference’s Metropolitan church in Hyattsville, Md. So, she tried having prayer services outside traditional time slots, like a midnight prayer meeting that attracted 60 students.

 Annual Spring Revival • with a tent pitched on The Commons, a central grassy area on campus, it’s used as a time to boldly call students to make decisions to live for Christ. During one revival, Barnard witnessed friends who had mentally disconnected from their Adventist roots move from nonchalance into a personal relationship with Christ. They showed up on a cold, Friday night—the only night of an appeal. One friend chose to follow Christ; another started struggling with the idea.

“To go from not even caring … and seeing with my eyes one of my friends battle with a decision of really choosing to live for God, that was something very powerful,” Barnard says.

WAU staff and students volunteer at Adventist Community Services of Greater Washington. WAU staff and students volunteer at Adventist Community Services of Greater Washington.

WISE (Week in Spiritual Emphasis) • are weeks of prayer for traditional students. This year WAU also hosted a WISE for those enrolled in the School of Graduate and Professional Studies (SGPS), a career-building degree program for working professionals.

The SGPS program provides WAU a unique opportunity to reach out to the community and to impact people from all backgrounds, says Charles Tapp, Sligo senior pastor. “So, if you want to reach out to them educationally, then we have to say, okay, how do we now reach out to them spiritually as well?” He reports that the SGPS week of prayer was the answer, getting positive feedback and giving religion students a chance to practice speaking.

WATER (Washington Adventist Trauma & Emergency Response) • a collaboration between the WAU community and local church members to provide relief after domestic catastrophes. WATER volunteers also prepare food, provide inspirational programming and repair buildings.

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, WAU students went to New Jersey and joined local church members in distributing water and cleaning up streets. “Service is more than a day or event; it is a lifestyle. That is why it is important for students to get involved in such projects,” said Kaneil Williams (’07), director of outreach and mission, following their efforts.

 Fishes & Loaves • a program where WAU students and staff meet on third Sabbaths to prepare meals and distribute food, literature, clothes and encouragement to homeless individuals at 14th and K streets in Northwest Washington, D.C.

“Our goal is to encourage them, but also to provide some of their basic needs, particularly in the winter months,” says Williams, who also serves as elder of outreach at Potomac Conference’s Community of Hope church in Silver Spring. The campus community also raises money each year for food donated for a Thanksgiving meal. “That’s one of the big events that really unites our campus in service,” adds Williams.

A student volunteering on service day. Photo by Ross Patterson A student volunteering on service day. Photo by Ross Patterson

Service Days • give students at least two opportunities each fall and spring to serve the community. Activities include picking up trash along Sligo Creek (pictured, above), gardening, packaging food, making food deliveries, cleaning and yard work, conducting health screenings and assisting at local elementary schools.

For its extensive efforts in the community, the President of the United States placed WAU on the 2014 Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. “We are extremely pleased to receive this recognition that our programs and activities are making a significant contribution to the community,” says Spence.

 Thursday Night Live • a safe space for students to explore their creativity through Christian poetry, song, music and comedy.

Reflections and Singspiration • these Friday night vespers and praise and worship services, respectively, are geared toward those looking for a more contemporary worship style.

Encouragement Ministries • offer a spiritual lift to students, faculty and staff facing challenging times and facilitate worship at all campus services.

Silent Judah • a performance team that shares God’s love through sign language, singing and praise dancing.

 IMV (I am Valuable) • supports female students through the transition to womanhood. Faculty and staff act as mentors.

 Project Sonshine’s Nursing Home Ministry• students and staff gather the first Sabbath of each month to pray, sing, read and encourage local nursing home residents.

WAU chaplain and student cheer people up on Service Day. Photo by Ross Patterson WAU chaplain and student cheer people up on Service Day. Photo by Ross Patterson WAU chaplain and student cheer people up on Service Day. Photo by Ross Patterson


All Shades of Christ • knit and crochet items for those in need and meet second Sabbaths to support survivors of terminal disease and those facing life-threatening illness.

 Grace Fund • confidentially gifts meal tickets, food and Metro fare cards to students facing financial emergencies.

Iron Man Men’s Ministry • provides monthly brotherhood and manhood sessions and seminars to encourage male students to be godly men.

Take it to the Streets • where students and staff visit local shopping centers to sing, pray for patrons, distribute literature, offer encouragement and invite them to campus spiritual events.

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