May and June is Annual Conference season in The United Methodist Church. That means Wesley Theological Seminary administrative staff will again be crisscrossing the Northeast and Southeast Jurisdictions to connect to both prospective students and alumni attending their respective Annual Conferences.
Nick Works, Director of Recruitment, will be at the Annual Conferences of Eastern Pennsylvania, Peninsula-Delaware, Susquehanna and Virginia. “We go to these conferences so that we can connect with our alumni, share news about Wesley Theological Seminary, and meet with prospective students that may be considering seminary for themselves,” Works said. Wesley alumni in the Baltimore-Washington Conference will have a special treat: a chance to reconnect with Associate Director for Admissions Chip Aldridge, who will join Works. For so many students, Chip was their first connection to Wesley Admissions for over 30 years.
Works sees clear benefits for prospective students who learn directly about the seminary from Wesley representatives at these events.
“They get a better picture of the school and more information than you can find on the website,” said Works. “The personal connections that are created help students really get a feel for the environment of the seminary. In connecting with a live person, prospective students will learn that they will be more than a number to us.”
While Annual Conferences are a key way to connect with United Methodists, Wesley Theological Seminary has a strong ecumenical student body and actively reaches out to other denominations for prospective students.
“The admissions office travels to several other denominational meetings during the same time,” said Works. “For example, former Admissions staff member Patrick Barrett (M.Div.’14) will be representing Wesley at the AME Zion conference later this summer.”
Like John Wesley, Works is accompanied on all his journeys by a faithful horse – Hoppy, the stuffed animal that proudly bears a Wesley Theological Seminary logo on its purple saddle blanket. A great conversation starter, Hoppy has had his picture taken with many students who stop by the seminary’s table.
Alumni Relations for Wesley will be holding events at 10 Annual Conferences this year throughout the Northeastern and Southeast Jurisdictions. Dave Shank, Development Specialist for alumni relations, said holding these events is also important not just for the seminary but also for its graduates.
“It is very important for us to stay in personal contact with our alumni,” Shank said. “We love to hear how their ministries are going, what they are doing, and what we can do to reconnect and assist with their ministries.”
At these gatherings, Shank provides updates about what is happening on campus, including new faculty arrivals and those who have moved on to serve in new ways.
“We also like to share about new initiatives for our alumni that we are offering such as regional gatherings throughout the year and new certificate programs,” he said. “We are also letting alumni know of a new offer for them to come back to main campus and take one course a semester for free!”
Shank stressed that these alumni gatherings are great opportunities to reconnect with not only with Wesley, but also to network with other alumni and find ways to partner and strengthen ministries.
“It’s a great opportunity to find ways that you can also give back with your time, talent and treasure to your alma mater,” Shank said.