Several United Methodists and friends participated in the Womxn’s March in Seattle in January. The 3.6 mile trek began in Judkins Park, ending in the Seattle Center.
By the Rev. Christy Fisher | Photos by Jesse N. Love
Christy Fisher welcomes everyone to Wesley Club before they embark on the Womxn’s March last January in Seattle. For more photos, visit Channels on Facebook.
Wesley Club is located at 1414 NE 42nd St. Street Suite 202, Seattle, WA 98105.
Wesley Club at the University of Washington is a progressive, LGBTQ affirming Campus Ministry in the University District neighborhood of Seattle, Wash. We are working to create space for encounter, dispel isolation, and subvert the status quo. We are a supportive community, exploring the meaning of life and faith. We encourage participants to engage, ask questions, and develop their own spiritual perspective.
We’re located across the street from the University of Washington. Wesley Club is open Monday – Thursday from 12 noon – 6 p.m. and Fridays from 12 noon – 5 p.m. Opening our space allows all students – but especially those who commute – to have a place to do homework between classes or while they wait for a bus home. We offer a secure place for students to drop in if they need pastoral care or want a space to pray or reflect.
Every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. (during the school year), students gather at Wesley to worship and learn together. We rotate between Supper Church, Vespers, and inviting community representatives to speak about justice issues in our city and world. We’ve welcomed officers from Seattle’s Police Department, the Rev. Harriet Walden (Founder of Mothers for Police Accountability), Representatives from Roots Shelter, Green Dot Bystander Awareness Program, the Q Center at UW, Earth Ministry, and The University District Needle Exchange, among others. Vespers is a contemplative, contemporary worship service with music and theological reflection.
Young adults are looking for the experience of the holy. One that is strong enough to lean on, deep enough to question, and challenging enough to change them. Many young adults are not sure what they believe, but I’m not sure the rest of us do either. We place practice before belief, trusting that the practice of eating, praying, and singing together moves us deeper into faith. Instead of trying to figure out what we believe, we’re trying to live what we practice. That doesn’t mean we don’t wrestle with our faith or action, it just means that we continue to practice while we wrestle.
Christy Fisher and friends from Wesley Club participated in the January’s Womxn’s March in Seattle.
College-aged folks often feel isolated and alone. Whether they are dealing with their mental health, loneliness, relationship problems, or the stress of school, students they are the only ones struggling. Part of our model of small groups and weekly meetings is to dispel isolation. But, they are not alone; we work to create spaces for students to engage difficult conversations and create connection rather than isolation. So, we talk about sex, sexuality, racism, privilege, mental health, death, the afterlife and faith. We hope by creating spaces to explore our ideas, values, beliefs, and practices that people will find connection instead of assuming they are alone.
More than 45 students are involved in our small group program. Small groups meet once a week for two hours to share life together. Wesley has also spent more than 700 hours this year serving Seattle through service opportunities and service trips.
Here are just a few voices from students sharing the Wesley Club experience:
I’ve always considered myself somewhat shy and inhibited, especially in new places or with new people. I had grown up learning that the Japanese-American narrative is one of oppression, hope, and eventually, resilience. Last year at the Wesley Club, our theme focused on the stories we tell, the stories we hear, and how we, as individuals, fit into a larger story. Through this, I saw an opportunity to learn more about the Japanese-American experience, especially the impact of the events of World War II. What I had considered “history” became part of my own story. Specifically, I found myself relating my family’s experiences with the current climate of our country. The parallels are haunting. Right now, Muslim-Americans face a situation much like the Japanese-Americans did in WWII era. I know what that kind of prejudice can lead to. I see that God is calling me to stand with oppressed communities and use the voice I have for justice. I believe that is what God calls all of us to do. I am incredibly thankful for my Wesley Club community and for the ways in which they support me on this journey. –Lynne Onishi
…my new friend understood that I, as well as others, was consistently there to listen to her, she realized that the Wesley Club community was making space for her; she didn’t have to claim it. To an extent, being selective about with whom you spend your time is wise and appropriate. But at Wesley Club, something different happens. Quite the opposite of a community hand-picked for similar traits and ideas, we are a hodge-podge of students coming from dramatically different upbringings and life experiences who sometimes clash and who sometimes don’t get each other right away. But students keep coming back, drawn as I am, I think, to the beauty of our intentional community, which overshadows its messiness. At Wesley Club, God moves to show us that sometimes the essential people we encounter in our lives are not those who we would hand-pick for ourselves. Wesley Club is the only community in my life in which I am encouraged to practice this radical love. Without this practice, how will conservative come to understand liberal, white understand black, rich understand poor, Christian understand Muslim? –Maya Norton
The Wesley Club has opened my eyes to a campus community that I had no idea existed. During my time at the University of Washington I had no sense of community or support before becoming a Wesley Fellow. Since then, I have been pushing my growing edges, I have learned and experienced things that will stick with me forever, oh, and not to mention I have met some of the most amazing people within and through this community. I am passionate to help lost individuals find their people and their place, like I have with the Wesley Club. –Jovanni Castillo
Being a part of Wesley has been a life changing experience. At Wesley I have seen the amazing things that can happen when I choose to vulnerably engage with people instead of retracting into my shell. I have been able to engage with difficult questions about faith, ethics, society, and relationships in an environment that supports me no matter what. The lessons I have learned because of the people I have met at Wesley are what have changed me. –Emily Ufirer
I didn’t come to the University of Washington looking for a campus ministry. I wasn’t even sure of where I was in my faith journey, but the Wesley Club welcomed me with open arms. Since then, Wesley club has helped me develop my talents, forced me to think deeply and has been a family I can rely on to support me. –Kyla Cook
Wesley Club will have several upcoming events in Spring. In March, it will participate in the Black Lives Matter march. In April, the Club will have a Spring Retreat focusing on spiritual practices.
So proud that we have UW Wesley as one of our ministries in higher education. Thank you to Christy, the students, the alumnaei, and everyone involved. The world and our church are a bit brighter because of you!