By Mallory Graves
Staff reporter

Southwestern College announced last Wednesday as part of the reorganization and restructuring of several administrative and staff functions, the positions of campus minister and director of discipleship will be combined into a single role.

Brad Andrews, president, said, “We did not want Ben to leave. We had to eliminate this position, because as a college, we are spending more than we are making. We have to reduce what we are spending by about 1.75 million dollars. In order to do that, we had to make lots of cuts throughout the budget. Cuts were made in employee benefits, financial services, operations and some positions in staffing. We tried to eliminate positions primarily that were not filled, but in order to get to where we needed to be, we had to cut six positions that were currently filled.”

“Right now, we have three ordained elders; three ordained clergy on staff, because we are a Christian college. As difficult as it was, we were able to go from three ordained clergy to two and maintain our commitment to campus ministry, faith development and spiritual journeys of our students,” said Andrews.

Hanne shared his appreciation for the opportunity to serve and minister to the campus community.

“As I reflect back on my time at Southwestern, I am especially drawn to the memories of students who have experienced transformation and renewal in the face of major challenges and terrible loss, as well as our amazing faculty and staff, who have shown me such kindness,” said Hanne. “I am grateful to the rest of our ministry team here at Southwestern, who will continue their faithful work in the years ahead.”

Andrews expressed the college’s continued commitment to providing for the spiritual needs of students.

“As we return to campus in January, we will ensure that our weekly chapel program continues without interruption, and we will continue to provide for the pastoral care and counseling needs of all of our students,” said Andrews.

Carly Redding, religion and philosophy freshman, said, “Honestly, Ben leaving really sucks, and is a big loss for this campus. I’m glad I got to be here at SC and work with Ben on things like chapel, but, I will really miss being able to run over to his office and rant about the problem I was having that day.”

Emily Robinson, music theatre sophomore, said, “I’m really upset about him leaving. I feel like Ben was the only readily available person I could talk to on campus about personal or health issues. He was always there to listen or even just to chat with. He’d even come in early during his only available time in the morning just to make sure we were okay. He cared so much about the students and their well-being but would never force his opinions on you. Also, the fact that they let the Methodist campus minister go when we’re a Methodist affiliated college doesn’t make sense to me.”

“Ben and I were pretty close,” said Robinson. “Through the United Methodist Church, we’ve gotten attend conferences and camps together and have gotten to the point where I consider him to be one of my personal and spiritual mentors.”

Ryan Stumbough, religion and philosophy junior, said, “It’s sad to see a person like Ben who was willing to do anything for this campus get pushed out. I think it says a lot more about what the school values and a lot less about Ben himself. In the time that Ben has been here at Southwestern, he has truly cared for each and every student and he has truly impacted my life and many others.”

“I will forever be grateful for the relationship I have built with Ben,” said Stumbough. “I see it as a huge loss for the campus, and college students often have a wide range of struggles in their time at school. Ben was the one of the few active confidential resources on campus and now he’s gone.”

Rev. Molly Just, currently director of discipleship at Southwestern, will assume leadership of the campus ministry program and will be the point of contact for students as they seek spiritual support and resources.

Just is ordained as an elder in the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church. She is a 2012 graduate of Southwestern College, a 2016 graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary, and is currently in the process of becoming certified as a spiritual director, studying with the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison. Just has been serving in ministry at Southwestern since 2014.

“I am passionate about the work of walking alongside others to recognize the presence of God in every moment,” said Just. “My work in this new role will be supported by an incredibly strong community, on campus, and in Winfield, so many who are willing and able to provide support and care for our students as they continue in their spiritual formation.”

Southwestern is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and will continue forward with two ordained elders working on campus. Additionally, a diverse team of faithful faculty and staff mentor and support students through worship arts, theological study, and student success programing. Southwestern remains home to the Richard and Julia Wilke Institute for Discipleship, The Summit Youth Academy and Amp It Up Camp among many other ministry programs.

“I look forward to the many ways our college and our students will continue to respond to God’s call–through our ministry to one another on campus and as our students go out to make the world a more loving place,” said Just “I’m grateful to Rev. Hanne for his work and I’m grateful too for the opportunity to minister to our community here at Southwestern.”

Mallory Graves is a sophomore majoring in communication. You may email her at Mallory.Graves@sckans.edu.