A Caring Group of Wesleyan Scholars at a Baptist Seminary: Wesley House of Studies

February 5, 2024
Wesley House Sign

When a caring group of Wesleyan churches began to search for an orthodox, evangelical seminary in Texas, Baylor’s Truett Seminary began to dream with them about how the historically Baptist institution might more fully embody its identity as a multi-denominational school to support this need. This led to the formation of the first Wesley House of Studies program at Truett Seminary.    

“The successful launch of the Wesley House of Studies at Truett Seminary must rank as one of the most extraordinary outpourings of God’s divine anointing in modern church history,” said Ryan Barnett, MDiv, lead pastor at First Methodist Waco. “For decades, Methodists have longed to pursue theological training at an evangelical and orthodox seminary without having to leave Texas. Dean Still and others conceived of offering just a home, and all that was missing was an academic leader to set our course, financial resources to provide for the program, and students to fill the classes! God answered all those needs in his ‘abundantly more than all you can ask or imagine’ way.”    

As one of the most highly regarded Methodist scholars of his time, William “Billy” J. Abraham, DPhil, (1947 – 2021) joined Truett as the inaugural director of the program, instilling its mission to “prepare Christ-centered, Spirit-led students to serve churches and other institutions in the Wesleyan tradition.” Abraham strategically instituted key coursework, began connecting with students, and cultivated a community of like-minded scholars and ministries to support this vision.


Wesley House Students

In the past three years, the Wesley House has evolved into a vibrant community comprising students, scholars, and ministers with diverse Wesleyan affiliations, encompassing Global Methodists, United Methodists, Nazarenes, and African Methodist Episcopals. The program has also been instrumental in Truett Seminary receiving recognition from the Free Methodist Church USA (FMCUSA) and the Global Methodist Church (GMC) as a Recommended Seminary for those within each denomination looking to further their theological education.    

“I am excited about the recent decision made by the Board of Bishops of the Free Methodist Church USA to include Truett Seminary as an approved institution for ministerial candidates receiving support from the denomination’s John Wesley Seminary Foundation,” said Steve Tungate, PhD, director of the Center for Pastoral Foundation for the FMCUSA. “This relationship between the Center for Pastoral Formation of the FMCUSA and the Wesley House of Studies at Truett will assist in equipping the next generation of ministry leaders.”   From the Wesleyan-specific coursework offered to the curriculum already embedded at Truett, students have the opportunity to dive deeper into their denominational roots while finding enrichment through the scholarship of the highly regarded Seminary with faculty that have a variety of denominational backgrounds and broad areas of expertise.   

“I first heard about the Wesley House from the late Billy Abraham,” said Jason Vickers, PhD, professor of Christian Theology and the inaugural William J. Abraham Chair of Wesleyan Studies. “He was convinced that God was doing great things at Truett Seminary and at Baylor University. After being here for a short time, I concur! The resources that God is bringing together here are extraordinary. In addition to resources within the Wesley House itself–which include the support of local churches and leaders–I am blessed with tremendous colleagues. I am also deeply impressed with the students I have met. They are among the best and the brightest I have had the privilege to be around, and they are clearly devoted to Christ and his Church.”  


Vickers' Class

The program has already enriched students theologically and has afforded them with opportunities to learn in local churches and opened doors for ministry networks into which they are being called. Students in Houston and San Antonio are able to remain engaged in their congregations while receiving similar coursework and ministry connections as they would at Truett in Waco.  “What a joy it is to be part of the Wesley House at Truett where I have been gifted with deep relationships with other clergy who not only share my Wesleyan heritage, but are also from other denominational backgrounds,” said Susan Kent, executive pastor of the G.R.O.W. Ministry at The Woodlands Methodist Church and current DMin student. “We are living out and experiencing the Kingdom of God as we share faith, encourage one another, and encounter the Holy Spirit. I am so grateful for the opportunity to find a place to grow in discipleship and leadership with others at part of the Wesley House."   

In addition to supporting students at both the masters and doctorate levels, the Wesley House of Studies recently launched the Pastoral Studies Program as an Alternative Educational Pathway to ministry for those to grow in their faith and be equipped for ministry within the GMC and other denominations. Students within the program have the opportunity to be academically and spiritually formed through courses taught by experts in their field and experiences offered through Baylor’s Truett Seminary.   

“It has been one of my greatest joys to watch God build the Wesley House of Studies from its inception of only a few to over 75 students, a newly formed alternative pathway program, and upwards of $11 million raised for scholarships and the program as a whole,” said Rusty Freeman, DMin, director of the Wesley House of Studies. “God has used Dr. Billy Abraham’s love for the Lord Jesus and commitment to John Wesley, alongside Truett Seminary’s willingness to open its doors to form a house to further God’s kingdom.”  

As a Seminary that engages across a variety of denominations, it affords all who enter the halls to have experiences and relationships beyond their normal ministerial spheres creating a robust theological education that better equips God-called people to serve in and alongside Christ Church.