Methodist University Announces $2.5 Million Gift from Sharon and Ron Matthews for World Ministry Center

At Opening Convocation on Friday, Aug. 22, Methodist University President Ben E. Hancock Jr. announced Sharon and Ron Matthews’ donation of $2.5 million to build the World Ministry Center (artist rendering) on the University’s campus.

“Never in our world has the need for peace been more apparent,” said Ron Matthews. “The need is great for the creature to recognize and connect with the Creator. The World Ministry Center at Methodist University will be a place of worship, peace, and reconciliation. It will enhance all students’ experience on campus and in the world. It is important for a well-balanced experience and a rich spiritual life.”“We are so fortunate and grateful to be able to give this gift to Methodist University and to the community,” said Sharon Matthews. “We have been blessed and are honored to give back.”

Sharon and Ron Matthews have been strong supporters of Methodist University for many years. In 2000, they were the recipients of the Small Business Excellence Award from the Methodist University Center for Entrepreneurship. Ron Matthews is an active member of the Methodist University Board of Trustees, serving on the Executive Committee and the National Campaign Committee.

Dr. Hancock praised the Matthews’ generosity and their commitment to the University to take a bold step forward with the Master Plan, which calls for transforming the campus, including a major worship and performing arts complex featuring the World Ministry Center, and the Reeves Fine Arts Building and Huff Concert Hall.

“This inspirational gift from Sharon and Ron is more than a gift to our University and in support for our faith based mission,” said Dr. Hancock. “This gift brings us that much closer to our $5.4 million goal for the Reeves Building that will make this combined chapel, cultural arts venue, and educational facility a reality and fulfill our vision for the future that we share with our faith and community partners.”

More than 20,000 guests visit Huff Concert Hall each year. The venue serves as the hub for performances and events at Methodist University, including musical performances, theatrical productions, cultural events, ceremonies, and lectures. The facility hosts events and conferences, partnering with many local and regional groups, including churches, schools, the Fayetteville Symphony, the U.S. Army, and the N.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church.

The Sharon and Ron Matthews World Ministry Center will include a 300-seat chapel and serve as the home for campus ministry and student worship. While recognizing Methodist University’s heritage and connection with the United Methodist Church, it will celebrate and welcome all faiths in accordance with the University’s mission and provide a space for all cultures and religions to come together to promote peace and understanding.

“I’m excited that we are going to be able to build a World Ministry Center”, said the Rev. Dr. Mike Safley, Vice President for Campus Ministry and Community Engagement. “The chapel will be not only for the Christian community but for all faiths as we learn to grow in our own faith as well as dialogue with others.”

Several major gifts have been made recently to expand and renovate the John M. Reeves Fine Arts Building, including a $1 million gift from Terri Union and the late Carlos Zukowski in support of a Judaic studies endowment, the arts, and the Union-Zukowski Lobby and Gallery. The lobby and gallery will connect the renovated Linda and Ralph Huff Concert Hall with the World Ministry Center and serve as a site for meetings, receptions, dinners, and gatherings prior to performances and services. The area will also feature a gallery to display works of art, including those of students, faculty, and visiting artists.

The gift from Sharon and Ron Matthews brings the total raised to more than $30 million toward the capital campaign goal of $35 million. The campaign entitled “The Campaign for Methodist University – Building Excellence” is the largest fundraising initiative in Methodist University’s history. The campaign will fund scholarships, endowed faculty positions, academic programs, campus life enhancements, new and renovated academic buildings, and six new and expanded athletic facilities.

The campaign will continue through 2016. Numerous naming opportunities are available within each of the facilities as well as named endowment opportunities. The capital projects in the campaign include:

  • Sharon and Ron Matthews World Ministry Center
  • Linda and Ralph Huff Concert Hall
  • Union-Zukowski Lobby and Gallery
  • John M. Reeves Fine Arts Building Renovation
  • The Thomas R. McLean Health Sciences Building
  • Student Union and Berns Center Renovation and Expansion
  • Golf Facilities Expansion and the Golf Education Center
  • Gene Clayton Tennis Center
  • Baseball Fieldhouse
  • Price Field and Softball Fieldhouse
  • Soccer Facility, Renovation and Expansion
  • Football, Track and Field, and Lacrosse Facility

For more information on the Campaign for Methodist University, contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at 910.630.7200 or visit the campaign website at www.CampaignForMU.org.

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