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Students serve in student retreat

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Photo Courtesy  / VisitDallas.com

Photo Courtesy / VisitDallas.com

Photo Courtesy / VisitDallas.com

Daniel Yanez, News Editor

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A&M-Commerce’s Wesleyan Campus Ministry participates in weekend retreats each year, recently, the group volunteered on home repair projects and assisted during the Dallas Pride Parade.

Wesleyan Campus Minister, Pastor Brian Dierolf, said this year’s retreat focused on intersectionality. Dierolf said even though everyone has their own privilege, everyone is marginalized in some sort of way.  He said the Pride Parade and home repair projects were great opportunities for students to reflect on social identity.

Dierolf said one can use their own privilege and intersectionality to become allies and advocate for different groups.

“Forming relationships and treating each other like sisters and brothers in the family of Christ, is how you can open up and get out of your comfort zone,” Dierolf said. “The more we can get to know each other as human beings and relate to each other’s common struggles is how we bond, that’s how we come over our own prejudices and challenge our own preconceptions.”

While in Dallas, the TAMUC group joined hands with several Dallas volunteer groups including Oak Lawn United Methodist Church, Lakewood UMC and The University of Texas-Dallas, to update two homes in one of the city’s low income areas. The following day, the group of student volunteers aided parade spectators in the Oak Lawn district.

Last year, the center of attention was creating a safe party space for LGBTQIA teens. The non-drink spot was a safe haven for primarily homeless LGBTQIA teens. This year, the Human Rights Campaign reached out to Oak Lawn UMC about creating a friendly area for disabled parade onlookers whom, in the past, may have struggled to gain viewing access.

“It was neat because it was for folks of all different ages with disabilities,” said Dierolf. “If [you all] are familiar with that part of Dallas, it’s very difficult if you’re disabled to participate in pretty much anything especially with parking.”

To alleviate parking problems, volunteers helped disabled participants up the ramp and onto the viewing platform. Accommodations were also made to provide special ADA bathrooms. A nurse was also present to help individuals with heat exhaustion, intoxication and other health issues.

As part of the Zip Code Connection, one of the goals of the student ministry is to address poverty at its deepest levels. Through reconciling, strengthening and creating connections Dierolf said individuals are able to make a difference in their communities.

The south Dallas area is one of Dallas’ most impoverished areas where the volunteer group was able to spend time. Dierolf said the two homes the team worked on painting and scraping, will be able to receive additional help once city codes and regulations are met.

Another area where the Zip Code Connection has done work is the Clarksville and Red River County community.

“With the Zip Code Connection in particular our bishop of the North Texas Conference put out a challenge, we have enough churches here to really make a difference,” Dirolf said. “There’s people in charge of these different zip codes that have done a lot of community building work, and race relations work. For the first time in Clarksville there was white and black churches coming together.”

David Kemp, a junior, has been affiliated with the Wesleyan for about a year. Kemp said he appreciates the work the group has done around the Dallas area. Kemp also said it is important to recognize local needs.

“Other churches are big about going to help in other countries and that’s great but we think we should help here first, there is a special sense when it comes to helping the community,” Kemp said. “Poor people in America are often overlooked, so we try and focus on them and that’s what this whole weekend was about. We got to go out and recognize the LGBTQIA community and other people at the same time.”

Throughout the year the Wesleyan hosts activities and works with surrounding churches to benefit the community and participating students. Currently, Dierolf and his team are trying to put together an inclusiveness rally for National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. Details for the event are still tentative but according to Dierolf the rally is aimed to promote love, unity and inclusivity.

“Instead of protesting against something I think it’s important that there are Christian voices out there that are promoting love, unity and inclusivity,” Dierolf said. “No matter how you feel about whatever issues, if you are a believer, you are called by Christ to love that person and even love your enemy.”

The Wesleyan Campus Ministry is located at 1504 Lee St. and is open to all students. Weekly events are scheduled throughout the week including church service on Mon. and free lunch on Wed. Students can contact Dierolf to learn more about the Wesleyan Campus Ministry.

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Students serve in student retreat