Weary Wesley students fortified for exams


Rev. Dr. Sharon Austin, far left, and Rev. Mark Becker, back row second from left, pose with students they served breakfast to during exam week at the University of South Florida. Photo by Erik Seise.


TAMPA – They may have straggled in weary from cramming for exams, but judging from the picture, a breakfast of scrambled eggs served up by representatives of the Florida Conference, Florida United Methodist Foundation and leaders of the Wesley Foundation ministry at the University of South Florida perked students up last week.

Rev. Dr. Sharon Austin, Connectional Ministries director for the Florida Conference, said she was invited to join Rev. Mark Becker, foundation president, on an April 27 mission to bolster student spirits in the midst of a week of final exams.

Austin said donning a USF Wesley T-shirt and wielding a spatula with Becker, campus minister Erik Seise and Wesley staffers Zac Burke and Chadd Hardie was fun.

“But the real blessing, in addition to serving tasty, nutritious food to bleary-eyed students, was hearing their laughter, listening to their anxieties and confidences about final exams and papers, and hearing their stories about education, life and ministry,” Austin said. 

She said Becker had participated in a similar ministry at the Wesley Foundation at Florida State University, Tallahassee. 

It wasn’t the first time Austin had seen the USF Wesley students in their role as tired troupers. Austin was guest preacher at the university on April 19, during Africa University Development Board’s Saturation Event weekend. The students had been awake the night before to participate in a Relay for Life fundraising event.

“Sharing the ministry and mission of Africa U to a group of students already actively involved in mission felt like preaching to mission magnets,” Austin recalled.

“These young folks asked provocative questions, brought deep perspectives as well as humor to our conversations and genuine curiosity about who does what and why in the Florida Conference,” Austin said.

“As we approach the 2015 Annual Conference on the campus of Bethune-Cookman University, I pray that serving and connecting with young people and valuing their stories become another way of embodying our Annual Conference theme, 'Next Generations together in the baptismal waters.'”


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