Imagine 2022 Update: Initiative II
September 5, 2019
In 2017, Dr. Sandra C. Gray, former president of Asbury University, announced the Imagine 2022 strategic plan for the continued academic and spiritual growth of the campus. Now as the University enters the 2019-2020 academic year, it is strengthening its commitment with the launching of two new programs and the expansion of several more to promote the spiritual vitality of the student body.
In Initiative II of Imagine, Asbury pledged to “deepen identity as a vibrant community of Christian faith and whole-person transformation rooted in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition.” This academic year has already seen several transformative steps taken to promote this initiative on campus.
The biggest leaps for Initiative II this year were the launch of the Encounter Chapel series, freshman small groups and the Alpha Series.
Alpha is a weekly gathering for students to explore some of the more difficult questions of faith, whether they are new believers or simply searching for answers to spiritually difficult questions.
“It can feel like there’s a divide between people who are excited and growing in their faith and some that aren’t engaged,” said Rev. Greg Haseloff, associate dean of spiritual life and campus chaplain. “So Alpha was a key opportunity for us to say, ‘If someone has questions, and an academic classroom is not the place for them to unpack these questions, what can we offer that makes it a safe place to explore them?’”
The group began meeting on Aug. 28 and will continue meeting every Wednesday during the academic year at Solomon’s Porch. Students attending Alpha are eligible to receive Chapel credit for their participation, and will have the chance to seek experienced insights from the University’s staff and faculty into critical questions about following Christ.
In addition to this new program, the University is expanding upon two programs launched last year designed to promote the spiritual growth of its community: Banded Discipleship Groups and the Reveal Chapel series.
“The Reveal series was a pretty big step,” said Haseloff. “We wanted to take a Chapel every week, tie it into a series and have more continuity in Chapel.”
After the widespread success of the Reveal series, Haseloff and his staff took the next step in announcing this year’s Encounter series, which includes more dedicated Chapels that will explore the book of Acts and the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives.
The series will be taught by a core team of five staff and faculty, comprising of Haseloff, Dr. Sarah Baldwin, Dr. Brian Hull, Kaylyn Moran and Jeannie Banter.
In addition to the continuation of a focused Chapel series, the popular Banded Discipleship groups are continuing into this year. These groups offer student-focused community in a more relaxed setting. Bands meet regularly to dig into scripture and to pray for one another during the academic year. These groups were incredibly successful, but Haseloff wants to expand the reach of small groups even further.
“What we learned last year was that presenting Banded to new freshmen was not the same as presenting Banded to the upperclassmen,” said Haseloff.
While upperclassmen enjoyed Banded because they were able to choose their Bands, freshmen who weren’t as connected were less likely to participate.
This led to the launch of Surrendered Small Groups, a freshman-specific take on community. The new class chooses which times work best for them, rather than choosing classmates. Each group is led by a hand-picked upperclassman and serves as a way to kick off the new class’ growth in community and spiritual vitality.
Initiative II of Imagine 2022 continues to expand the academic excellence and spiritual vitality of Asbury and paves the way for students to enter the world prepared for wherever the Lord guides them.