When the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church started looking for a new home a few years ago — the old one was falling down around them — they considered 43 different options before settling on a partnership with Texas Wesleyan.
“For us there are multiple advantages to being on campus,” says Bishop J. Michael Lowry. “Including beefing up our attachment with Texas Wesleyan and expanding our ministry in the neighborhood.”
The brand new $3 million conference center is owned by the college and leased to the conference. It boasts 16,000 square feet of office and meeting space, including an expansive multipurpose room for training and education seminars, offices for 25 employees and conference rooms wired for the latest technology.
Lowry is particularly excited about the technology that allows them to host simulcast events with streaming video that can reach thousands of congregants across their wide geographical conference. They will use it for Bible study classes and other aspects of their conference work, such as training for their new health insurance coverage.
“We’re not even sure what all we’ll be able to do, but we’re very much exited about it,” he says. “The job of the conference is to equip and energize our congregations and this will help in all these areas.”
The conference oversees about 320 local churches and campus ministries, 153,000 members and more than 450 clergy.
“Most of our outreach goes through our local churches and ranges from a homeless ministry in Temple to a food truck ministry in Arlington Heights to a camping ministry in Glen Rose,” Lowry says. “So the reach is really wide.”
Now that they are settled into their new home, they plan on increasing internships with students and expanding their ministry in the Poly neighborhood, where there are several Methodist congregations.
“We’re glad to be here and very appreciative of the relationship that the Texas Wesleyan community as a whole has extended to us,” Lowry says. “For us it really is a joy and blessing to be in a partnership with one of our universities.”
UMC Bishop Mike Lowry addresses the crowd during the April 2015 Texas Wesleyan University clock tower topping out ceremony.
For more on the Central Texas Conference, go to www.ctcumc.org.