DWU campus ministry welcomes new pastor
Monday, May 19, 2014
Dakota Wesleyan University welcomes a new campus pastor this summer, the Rev. Eric Van Meter.
Van Meter comes to DWU from Arkansas State University, Paragould, Ark., where he served as campus pastor since 2007 – a calling inspired through self-discovery.
“My time as a student in campus ministry was the transformative experience of my adult life,” he said about his own college experiences. “Through both the way I was loved and the way I was expected to show love to others, I discovered a way of living that was more beautiful than anything I’d imagined before. When I found out I could serve God, love others, and even get paid to do it, I realized that ministry was the vocation for me.”
Van Meter is a graduate of Arkansas Tech University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and Asbury Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity.
He will begin at DWU on July 1, succeeding former campus pastor Brandon Vetter who will assume fulltime duties for Fusion on July 1, as well. Fusion, a weekly worship service held on campus, was originally a collaboration between DWU and the First United Methodist Church, but its growth led to it becoming a church of its own and Vetter was called to lead it.
“Brandon and the students have made such a great situation here, and Denise and I felt so at home when we visited,” Van Meter said.
At Arkansas State University, Van Meter served as campus pastor and helped grow and stabilize its campus ministry to a group that regularly trains and guides 50 to 70 young adults each year. Prior to ASU, he served as the executive pastor at St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock, where he assisted to supervise a staff of more than 30 full-time employees, conducting weekly worship to a congregation averaging 1,000.
The decision to come to Dakota Wesleyan was not made lightly, as Van Meter said he and his wife prayed over the decision to return to the Dakotas, having served United Methodist Campus Ministry in Rapid City from 2002-2004. With all his experience in campus ministry being at state schools, people close to him began suggesting his gifts would fit perfectly in a Christian university setting.
“As I started to look around and I came across DWU, it was everything I was looking for: a strong ministry connected with campus life, a great place for my family, and an opportunity to teach in a classroom setting,” he said.
He and his wife, Denise, and children, Zachary, 10, and Jonathan, 8, will make their home across the street from campus.
“Everything worthwhile that I’ve done in my life has frightened me at least a little; the same can be said for moving to DWU — I’m very excited, but also a little nervous,” he said. “I’m coming into this with a lot of ideas and hopes. I’m confident we’re going to continue to do beautiful ministry at DWU, and I’m excited to help create that in the years ahead.”