TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Colleges across the country are working to keep up with the demands of student housing. While some are building ultra-modern luxury dorms, Tyler Junior College is expanding its faith-based housing.
Wesley House, which occupies the former West Hall, has been leased by the Wesley Foundation since 2013.
A second dorm was added this Fall, helping students like Trayshanna Phillips learn how faith fits into their lives.
"God places everyone in Wesley House for a reason."
As the community director for the residence hall, Phillips, who is a senior, helps create a community among the 80 residents.
"It provides peace, knowing that everyone here believes in the same thing. We're all here to help each other. We're all here to pray for each other and just be that one person you go to and confide in."
A support structure for young adults, Wesley House reaches students who learning how to live on their own while expanding their minds. The Wesley Foundation, a branch of the United Methodist Church that focuses on student ministry, has had a presence on the TJC campus since the 1950s.
Campus Minister Sunny Farley says empowering and encouraging students is at the heart of her mission.
"I think the key to it is that we've got to stay in tune with what the holy spirit is doing in our midst and try to plug in and be part of that."
Farley says most American 18 to 25-year-olds are skipping Sunday services, so she's there to help them fulfill whatever calling in life they have.
"Instead of waiting for them to come and begging them to come to church, I think it's imperative that the church goes to them."
For most residents, like sophomore Weston Gregory, it's more than simply a place to live. "It's been a gift, definitely. because I've met so many good people here and my best friends are here and we live together. My college experience would have been completely different if you know, I wasn't living here."
Common areas are designed to be inviting to all students, many of whom take part in Tuesday Lunches. Nightly prayer gatherings promote fellowship, sometimes drawing as many as 40 students -- both residents and their classmates.
"We just start out with asking if anyone has prayer requests or anything like that and we come together," Gregory said.
There's no requirement to attend worship or belong to a particular church. Wesley House even arranges transportation to various churches each weekend.
Since transferring to TJC, Jesse Bourgeois says he has developed a passion for service.
"I learned that I'm more mission-based, going out and helping other people. So coming here, we do a lot of mission work. Like on Mondays, we have something called Mad Missions where we go out and do something for the community."
Christian principles of love and respect for one another have found a home here for the last three years.
Farley says her students make her optimistic about the future. "They're trying hard. They're becoming the people God wants them to be and it's just a beautiful experience to be able to witness that."
All students enrolled at TJC and UT Tyler are invited submit applications for housing at Welsey House year-round.
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