ASU building will follow minister’s vision’

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 21, 2001

The Rev. Alphanette Martin stands outside the new building for ASU’s Wesley Foundation.(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[12/21/01]LORMAN There are only four days left until Christmas, but the Rev. Alphanette Martin is going to have to wait a few months for her biggest gift.

As director of Alcorn State University’s Wesley Foundation, Martin will help dedicate a new chapter building for the group on March 30.

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The 10-room structure was to be completed by late November, but builders didn’t make that deadline. Still, having already waited for a worship house for years, Martin and other members of the foundation’s building committee said they don’t mind the extra four months.

“Oh, I expect we’ve been waiting on this a pretty long time,” said Lonnie Moore, a member of the foundation’s building committee. “We’ve always had a foundation, just never a building.”

Wesley Foundation is the United Methodist Church’s group for college students. At 3,000-student Alcorn State University, it holds weekly worship services as well as small-group Bible studies.

Once finished, the building will be on Highway 552 near the entrance to Alcorn State’s campus.

Martin, director of the Alcorn chapter since 1998, said she planned the structure two years ago after seeing it in a dream.

“God gave me a vision,” Martin said. “I knew it had to be built.”

Funding it was her only problem. After months of asking the Mississippi United Methodist Conference to underwrite the project, she said, church officials came up with grant money from the Asbury Foundation, a private Methodist non-profit organization, to give to the Alcorn group.

“The money is from the foundation,” Martin said. “The state conference is funding it indirectly.”

Woody Woodrick, editor of the state conference newsletter, said the new building will serve Alcorn well.

“They had been wanting it for a long time,” Woodrick said. “We were glad to see them get it.”

After the structure opens, the Alcorn Wesley Foundation will hold small-group Bible studies and worship services there. Currently, Alcorn’s Oakland Memorial Chapel hosts Wesley Foundation events, which Martin says attract as many as 300 students, not all of them Methodist.

“I really don’t believe in denominations. I wish we could all just worship together,” she said. “We’re here to help college students out. We talk about living healthy lives, studying, even how to deal with financial pressure and loan repayment.”

Martin, who has pastored three different Mississippi churches

since retiring from teaching in 1985, can’t imagine doing anything different.

“I’m here to stay,” she said. “I’m so glad we’re able to help students like this.”