National Register of Historic Places Narrative Description Introduction
The 1965 Wesley Foundation Student Center is a two-story brick and glass building with a flat roof and almost square footprint designed according to the principles of the International Style and mid-twentieth century Modern architecture. The building is located in an urban lot near Indiana State University; a lawn and contemporary landscaping surrounds the property. The structure sits on a poured concrete foundation. Most of the reinforced concrete block structure is faced with variegated common bond brick; some of the bricks have been stamped with geometric shapes. Laminated wood beams are used for structural and decorative purposes throughout the building; seams in some of the beams are visible as the original layer of paint has weathered over time. Each elevation is capped by an original laminated wood beam. A brick chimney is located in the northwest corner of the roof, which is covered with a rubber membrane. The steel windows with painted wood frames are original; the curtain walls of windows on the west elevation and similar windows around the interior lightwell are significant features.
The building is in good condition and retains a high level of integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.
Throughout the narrative description, all materials and features are original unless otherwise noted. The original 1965 drawings by Lewis, Shimer & Associates were used to verify materials and the originality of existing features.
When constructed in 1965, the building was referred to as the Wesley Foundation Student
Center; therefore, that name will be used in this registration form. Today, the building is referredto as the United Campus Ministries Building.
Historical Sketch of United Campus Ministries
The United Ministries in Higher Education in the Terre Haute area is a campus ministry serving the needs of students, faculty, and staff on the campuses of Indiana State University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. In recent years this ministry has received funding from and has served on behalf of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church. Additionally, there is one local supporting congregation of another denomination: Trinity Lutheran Church. As of the end of 2009, Presbyterian and United Methodist funds were no longer provided from their regional headquarters.
Several streams of campus ministry have come together to form the present ecumenical ministry. Following is a brief sketch of the history of this ecumenical effort.
The Wesley Foundation
A Wesley Foundation program, on behalf of the Methodist Church, was organized in October of 1943 for college students. Centenary Church was home for the Foundation until 1960, when it moved to 321 North Seventh Street. A new building (our present location) was erected on that site in 1965 for the Foundation. According to a brochure on the Wesley Foundation, dated September 1944, the objectives were “(1) To lead students to become followers of Jesus Christ and into such vital personal relationship with God as will become intelligently effective in human living; (2) To develop a supporting group in which individuals will mutually strengthen one another in Christian living . . . ; (3) To help create a new world order . . . embodying Christian ideals and conserving the highest human values. . . .” It is striking how relevant these goals are even today.
The Westminster Foundation
The Central Presbyterian, Washington Avenue Presbyterian, and Westminster Presbyterian Churches had a joint Westminster Foundation, which sponsored programs for college students from about 1961 until 1963. Faculty from ISU would take turns serving meals to students on Sunday evenings, lead Sunday School classes, and have other activities during the week.
The United Campus Christian Fellowship
About 1965, the Westminster Foundation was able to obtain some judicatory funding and, with the contributions of the local congregations, joined with the Disciples of Christ, the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical United Brethren, and the Episcopal Church to have an ecumenical campus ministry called the United Campus Christian Fellowship. The UCCF provided campus ministry on behalf of those denominations. For many years this ministry was housed in the facilities of Central Christian Church across from the ISU campus.
The Indiana Commission of United Ministries in Higher Education (1967-2019)
In 1967 the Indiana Commission of United Ministries in Higher Education (ICUMHE) was created by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Presbyterian Church, and the United Church of Christ. The next year the Indiana Area of the United Methodist Church became a partner in ICUMHE. The coordination, evaluation, and funding of campus ministries in Indiana on behalf of these four denominations was accomplished through ICUMHE. Funding for ICUMHE dwindled and ended with the withdrawal of all denominations except for Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Indiana and the United Church of Christ, Kentucky/Indiana Conference. The Board of ICUMHE went “on hiatus” in 2011 but continued to fund two ministries, Ft. Wayne and Terre Haute, until May, 2019 when it was formally dissolved.
The United Ministries in Higher Education in the Terre Haute Area
One goal of ICUMHE was to bring about united ministries in higher education throughout the state where local campus ministries already existed. The objectives of UCCF and the Wesley Foundation were congruent enough to provide the basis for further ecumenical cooperation. In January 1973 the Wesley Foundation and the UCCF joined together to provide campus ministry in this community as the United Ministries in Higher Education in the Terre Haute Area, and the former Wesley Foundation building became the ministry’s home.
Other Ecumenical Connections
The American Baptist Campus Ministry of Terre Haute was an ecumenical partner in United Campus Ministries from June, 1982, until June, 2000, when they decided to withdraw in order to do ministry denominationally.
Over the years, three other local congregations of other denominations chose to extend their ministries to the campuses through United Campus Ministries. Those churches were First Congregational Church, Trinity Lutheran Church, and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. Beginning in 2001, the Episcopal Church became a denominational sponsor of this campus ministry. In 2003, First Congregational Church withdrew as a sponsor due to the financial constraints of the congregation.
Between 2005 and 2009, Presbyterian denominational support was phased out for all campus ministries in the synod. In spring, 2009, the Indiana Conference of United Methodists announced the cessation of funding for campus ministries (and most other non-parish special ministries), effective Dec. 31, 2009. Despite the UCM board’s long history of fundraising activities, the size of those funding losses (some two-thirds of our budget) continues to create a financial crisis that threatens the very survival of our ministry. The UCM board went on record at our annual retreat in January of 2011 that we intend to continue to provide a ministry that reflects our mission statement: “Providing space and support for discovering, understanding, growing in, and living out a faith journey in Christian community.” (See Mission Statement as of 2019 below) The UCM board is in the process of establishing new fund-raising initiatives on top of those we have done for years (two “events” per year plus fall and spring letter campaigns).
In July, 2011, campus minister/administrator, Rev. Jack Diel, felt that he had to leave UCM after 30 years of devoted service, because the UCM budget could no longer guarantee support for a full-time campus minister. The UCM board is committed to maintaining an active ministry and presence as close to what we have offered as we can manage. From July, 2011, through June, 2012, we were served by a part-time interim campus minister, Rev. Corey Howard, an ordained graduate of The Candler School of Theology at Emory University. In July, 2012, he was succeeded by Dr. Joni Clark, served as part-time campus minister until January, 2014. Rev. Sharon Smith Samsell became campus minister in July, 2014 and served until December 2018. In January 2019, Rev. Dawn Black began as campus minister. Both Sharon and Dawn are ordained Presbyterian ministers. Our office manager also serves part-time. We have a loyal and enthusiastic core group of students participating in our activities.
In Terre Haute there is no other ecumenical campus ministry with over 70 years of comparable commitment and experience, a building (now held in trust by Centenary United Methodist Church), and a reputation for open, inclusive, progressive, “mainline” ministry.
Our current Mission Statement is
To provide space and support, founded on Christian principles, to students and the community, for a faith journey in a multi-faith world.