On a quiet Monday morning in the Underground Coffee Shop, Johnson University students and faculty trickle through in preparation for the final week of fall semester classes. For Weldon Davis, the new Resident Director of Brown Hall, the semester has marked the beginning of an exciting journey. He settles down on a couch across from me with a cup of coffee and leans in to tell his story.
Weldon’s story begins at Sheva Church of Christ in Chatham, Va. where youth pastor Jeff Hogan profoundly influenced him for ministry.
“The impact that that youth minister, just for two years, had in my life,” Weldon recalls, “I thought, ‘Man, if I could just do that with one kid my entire life, I think it would be worth it.'”
Weldon first heard of Johnson at Pittsylvania Christian Service Camp in Chatham, Va. after coming in contact with a group of students who were there promoting for the school. Because of it’s solid youth ministry program, he ended up attending Johnson, graduating in 2004 with a degree in Youth Ministry.
Following graduation, he spent 11 years serving as youth minister at Hamilton Mill Christian Church in Buford, Ga. before making the trip here to Knoxville this August as the new Resident Director of Brown Hall. He brings with him to Johnson his wife Ashley, seven year old daughter Charity and three year old son Walker.
Beyond ministry, he sees family as a priority, so when Ashley’s father in Maryville, Tenn. began to face some health issues while they were living in Georgia, the couple decided to investigate options that would bring them closer to Maryville. This situation, along with a desire to serve in a college setting, eventually brought Weldon and his family back to the campus of Johnson University.
“Its kind of a crazy string of events,” he says, “but in a nutshell, we kind of felt a calling to do college-age ministry.”
After gaining experience leading a young adult Bible study at Hamilton Mill, Weldon realized that this type of ministry aligned closely with his calling.
“Over the last 11 years, I felt myself gravitating more, and enjoying more, the college-age small group,” he says.
About a year ago, while exploring college ministry opportunities near Maryville, he contacted Dave Legg, who, at the time, was in his 25th year as the Resident Director of Brown Hall. Weldon held a close relationship with Dave while attending Johnson, even working under him for a time as a Resident Adviser.
He recounts telling Dave, “Hey, if you ever get to a point where you might want to step down from being the Resident Director, I might would be interested in that position.”
“I had some wise people in my life tell me, ‘You need to contact him, and you need to let him know what’s on your heart,'” Weldon recalls. “He knew that that’s where I was at, so when it came time and he felt that it was time for him to leave, I was the one that he contacted.”
Weldon has nothing but respect for Dave, who he says has acted as a father figure to thousands of students.
“I thought he did a phenomenal job,” he says, “his shoes are ones that I don’t think I could even fill.”
Whether it means going on a hiking trip with several students or participating in intramural sports,(he hits more home-runs than anyone else in softball) Weldon’s favorite part of the job so far is hanging out with guys from the dorm and forming positive relationships.
He is thankful, though, for the support of Dave Legg, who still works on campus and often steps in to offer advice in making disciplinary decisions. Weldon admits that he tends to lean toward strictness when it comes to rules, but Dave has taught him to look deeper into each individual situation.
“Even though I’m supposed to be the one that upholds the rules, I still have to do it in a loving and just way,” Weldon says. “I want you guys to feel comfortable coming and talking to me. I’m here to be a friend, to be a counselor— to be a dad figure if that’s what you want me to be.”
For now, though, Weldon sees himself as more of an older brother.
“I like the thought of being the older brother, but I have to be the older brother that says, ‘Hey by the way, you shouldn’t do that,'” he says. “My main goal is to continually show the love of Christ to everyone in the dorm.”
Weldon says he finds the ability to show Christ’ love by maintaining a close relationship with God. To him, this means engaging in personal study, fellowshipping with other believers, and drawing wisdom from older Christians more experienced than himself.
“The older generation is so wise,” he says. “They’ve lived it. They’ve been through it.”
Weldon looks at Dave Legg’s ministry and hopes that students will some day see him in a similar light. As a 33 year old, though, he takes another sip of coffee, looking forward to playing intramural basketball and developing meaningful friendships with the men of Brown Hall.