One Purpose

Eicher commonsIt was late morning when Michael Mortensen and I walked down the sidewalk leading from the Lillian Rolf House, past the old Lehmen Library to the Eicher Student Commons, now owned by The Summit, a collaborative learning community. A small group had already gathered when we entered the Heritage Room. We mingled with representatives from a number of ministries and nonprofits, now housed at The Summit, and helped ourselves to sandwiches and coffee. Everyone took their seats as the meeting was called to order, and the conversation began.

Photo via CFAG

Besides the Fort Wayne Alumni & Friends Resource Center, several other groups currently use space on campus for ministry to the community, and former TUFW business professor Larry Rottmeyer g78, now Executive Director of The Summit, hosts monthly Partner Meetings to bring them all together. One by one the representatives introduced themselves and their organizations, offering updates on their latest developments and on how they are stewarding the campus.

English libraryGrace College utilizes space in the former English Library, now the Learning Center, for their Fort Wayne branch which was established in fall of 2011. The college emphasizes biblical values and small, intimate classes, using a cohort model.  The Fort Wayne branch allows students from the northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio to commute, thus minimizing their college expenses. Dr. John French of Grace College, a former TUFW parent, announced that Grace recently hosted the Millennial Scholars program at The Summit. The campus provided the perfect location to expose students to leadership opportunities within the state of Indiana.

Photo via Archives

Crossroads Bible College at Fort Wayne was represented by Jeanne (Mohr) Crafton g78. Crossroads offers higher education characterized by academic excellence and a solid foundation of biblical authority. The Fort Wayne branch is also located in the Learning Center, where it offers accelerated programs for nontraditional students to complete their degrees without interrupting their careers.

witmerThe local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters is now headquartered in Witmer Hall. According to staff member Chris Brown g09, the program is currently undertaking a series of fundraisers and adding staff members to better assist the 80 + kids that come and go on the property through Big Brothers Big Sisters. Over 1,300 kids are involved in the greater Fort Wayne program, the second largest in the country. Their College Success Mentoring program, which pairs high school students with local professionals to guide them through the college preparation process, is also kicking into gear.

Photo via Ambassador Enterprises

clydetaylorAnother group represented on campus is Experience Mission, an organization committed to spreading Christ’s love by connecting people from diverse cultures, developing leaders, and assisting those in under-developed communities. They are in the process of creating a serial ministry tool, to be released every six weeks, to help equip pastors and leaders. This summer, interns from across the country will gather in Ramseyer Hall for training before they disperse to missions assignments, both nationally and internationally. Experience Mission staff members are also our neighbors, as they are being housed at the Clyde Taylor House next door.

Photo via Ambassador Enterprises

gerigFinally, Ambassador announced that they are planning a campus-based community health and wellness program. They plan to focus on the spiritual component of health and fitness, as they do in their current education and social engagement programs. Their vision includes using the campus fitness center and importing some new equipment, but they are also considering repurposing other buildings on campus if additional space is needed.

Photo via Ambassador Enterprises

The Fort Wayne campus is in the midst of many different visions, structures, and individual goals as it hosts these diverse ministries. It still functions as a campus in many ways, such as with the educational programs of Grace College, Crossroads, and Big Brother Big Sister. But it is also a gathering space, training headquarters, and hub of community engagement. With Ambassador at the wheel, the Fort Wayne campus is opening its doors to the broader community, which brings many changes.

But for those who remember the campus as a thriving college, some things never change. Chris, with tears in her eyes, reflected on the deep connection the campus still holds for her as an alumna. But Big Brothers Big Sisters has given her a vision of what is possible, and for her, using the campus in a new way introduces a touch of sweetness to what was previously a bitter goodbye. “It doesn’t matter what we do, as long as it’s for the same purpose,” she said. God is working in Fort Wayne through Ambassador, Grace College, Crossroads, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Experience Mission, and the Resource Center. But at ground level, God is working through the Fort Wayne campus.

How does it encourage you to know the campus is still being used for ministry in Fort Wayne?

 

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