MADISON—"A change can only be implemented through the power of the Holy Spirit," said Rev. Barry Whipkey, Madison UMC. "So what I would like to say is, here at Madison, the Holy Spirit is at work." Madison UMC is serving over 100 young adults and high school students each week through small groups and Pastor Charlie Moore's presence at Dakota State University and the local high school.
It all started with prayer. Madison UMC attended a Breakthrough Prayer workshop as part of the Missional Church Consultation Initative (MCCI). “We all prayed each day that the Holy Spirit would break through and help us reach the youth and young adults here in Madison,” said Whipkey. Photo: Charlie Moore shares a message with some members of the DSU football team in the Karl Mundt Library on the DSU campus. Photo by Dave Stucke, Dakotas Conference Communications.
The church is located a few blocks from Dakota State University (DSU), a campus of 1500 students. Past efforts to bring the college to the church failed. Prayer led to a breakthrough — the church needed to go to where the students are.
Through the MCCI process one of the goals or prescriptions for the church was to reach to the young adults in the community through outreach. The congregation decided to hire a second pastor to reach out beyond the church doors. They hired Charlie Moore. Moore is a long-time member of the church who has led youth ministry.
“We brought on a second pastor. Charlie has been implementing our outreach to our high school, to our college, Dakota State University and to young adults throughout the community,” said Whipkey.
Moore reached out everywhere on campus. He started by contacting each of the coaches of the sports teams, asking if he could serve as their chaplain.
“We really had no contact on campus,” said Moore. “So I reached out to every sports team and all the coaches on campus asking if I could be their chaplain, and thankfully only one said 'yes'."
The football team invited Moore to be their chaplain. He shows up to practices and every home game. He is there for the young men to encourage, listen to them and pray with them. Moore leads a team inspirational meeting with a spiritual focus once a week for any player that wants to come. An average of 50-70 young men show up each week.
“I was a little skeptical at first,” said Josh Anderson, DSU head football coach. “We are a state school and we really can’t force kids when it comes to religious things. That is really not what this is about. This was just about helping young men through life.”
The presence of Moore and Madison UMC have become integral at DSU. Moore also plays a leadership role in Campus Crusade (CRU) helping with worship and planning outreach activities. There are also two other small groups that started on campus with his leadership and guidance. He also holds office hours each week in the campus center. Students just drop in and have conversations about everyday life issues and seek spiritual guidance.
The church, under the leadership of Moore, is also reaching out to area high school students. Each week Moore is part of “Souled Out”, a small group that meets over the lunch hour at the high school.
The response of the young people has been overwhelmingly positive. “It's cool, especially being from out of state, having somewhere I can go. Someone I can talk to,” said Elijah Colbert, DSU student and football player.