There are two new faces in Wesley’s Office of Development and, like the students and alumni they serve, both are embarked on personal journeys marked by a combination of both continuing discernment and continuing determination.
Development Officer Evan Shively studied political science, philosophy and religion at Newport University before moving on to receive a Master in Political Science from George Mason University.
He describes his arrival at Wesley as the converging of two roads. “First, I got a call to seek ministry and to become a student,” he said. “So I’m pursuing my M.Div. at Wesley.” Once accepted, Shively came across a job posting for Wesley’s Office of Development. It seemed a perfect fit.
In addition to his years at university, Shively’s experience includes fundraising work for Liberty in North Korea, which sent him across the United States, speaking at colleges, high schools, and congregations to raise support for North Korean refugees making their way to freedom.
Shively also served with Invisible Children, focused on children in Uganda who are abducted and forced to serve in the military. “The majority of fundraising is for the rehabilitation of child soldiers,” he said. “It’s also about setting up early warning networks, so that villages are alerted to movement in the area.”
Shively’s wide-ranging experience gives him a strong foundation for work with a church and a seminary facing rapidly changing times. His expertise in grassroots endeavors and social media have proven especially helpful.
“In this world, right now, the church is in transition,” he said. “I bring a different perspective to the team as we build toward the future. Wesley is unique. It’s got its eye on where we’ve been and on where we’re going. And not just academically.”
Executive Assistant Haley dos Santos attended Birmingham Southern College in Alabama. Her religion major led to an M.Div. from Candler School of Theology, which, in turn, led to her leadership of a church near Winchester, Va.
A logical next step was her new position at Wesley. “I love the church and I love theological education and I love connecting church people to theological education,” she said.
Those connections are not always the obvious ones. “Some folks might never have thought about it,” she said. “It’s about helping people see that a theological education extends beyond the pastors that they love and cherish.”
Looking back on her own work as a pastor, dos Santos misses the direct, daily contact with congregants, especially as a community who gather to worship. But that experience with the laity has already served her well in her new role.
“I want to learn how to talk about the call to administration and the call to support the church through a theologically educated laity,” she said. “Working in development and fundraising gives me the opportunity to empower the laity to discover their role in the church.”
As they consider their own futures, dos Santos and Shively practice the wisdom of patience.
“My call has been a series of unfoldings,” dos Santos said. Those slow revelations have taken her from the mountains of Appalachia to the churches of Brazil. Throughout, she has made the connections she finds so inspiring.
“Wesley is a seminary that works very hard to bridge the church and the world,” she said. “I’m sure I will grow in my own discernment of that piece while I’m here.”
For his part, Shively looks forward to his first classes, and to becoming more deeply involved in the administrative life of the seminary.
“I’ve learned that you don’t just have to be versed in ministry and spirituality,” he said. “You also need that administrative background. The education I’ll get in the next few years will really grow me.”