The United Methodist Church
As a United Methodist Church affiliated institution, the heritage of Philander Smith University is deeply rooted in faith. Philander Smith University’s mission statement echoes its first mission by The Methodist Church to provide an education during “conflict and social change,” by educating current students to become “advocates for social justice.” The mission statement also inter-relates the current mission of The United Methodist Church by charging Philander Smith University students to “change the world for the better.”
Underscoring Philander Smith University’s mission and its relationship to The United Methodist Church is the commitment to fostering spiritual and ethical values necessary to become good social justice advocates. As evidence of Church Relatedness, Philander Smith University offers weekly chapel services, curricular, and co-curricular activities to serve the spiritual needs of the campus community wherever possible. Our Campus Office of Religious Life and Campus Culture is deeply ingrained in meeting the needs of our student body while helping them in the transition to college life, and providing a space in which they can grow in spirituality and theological understanding.
Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church is the oldest Black Methodist church in Arkansas and resides on the campus of Philander Smith University. Wesley Chapel has its origin in the combined membership of whites and blacks that was the custom throughout the South before Emancipation. In 1867, white ministry leaders organized Walden Seminary in the basement of Wesley Chapel for the purpose of educating newly freed African Americans in ministry. Walden Seminary later became Philander Smith University.
Wesley Chapel and Philander Smith University historical connection is still maintained with the church serving as home to the weekly chapel services helps for students on campus. Additionally, church members are dedicated to supporting Philander scholars by offering necessary support, programming as well as scholarships.