| Members of Master Plan Ministries
attend a “Cross Training” meeting last Monday
as Nate Herbst discusses future programs and current attendance
levels. Presently, 150 students are members of the group.
/Photo by Todd Newcomer.
On the day Chicago-native Matt Sheddon arrived
at Fort Lewis College to move into the dorms by himself, he
met several members of Master Plan Ministries, a non-denominational
campus Christian group.
They were there as part of an annual event to help freshmen
move into the dorms, and they helped Sheddon and then invited
him to dinner that night. Since he didn’t know anyone
on campus, he accepted their offer, and eventually got involved
with the group.
Now, almost three years later, he’s the treasurer of
Master Plan, and he has also been a Resident Advisor at FLC
living inside the dorms for the last 2 1/2 years.
In fact, at least a third of the college’s RAs are members
of Master Plan Ministries, which has stirred up a controversy
on campus. Some residents and their RAs contend that members
may be using their positions as Resident Advisors to pressure
freshmen into joining Master Plan.
When he joined, Sheddon said he felt some pressure to change
his lifestyle. Because members of Master Plan do not drink alcohol,
do drugs or have premarital sex, Sheddon said he didn’t
like the group for the first year and a half because he thought
members didn’t approve of his lifestyle, which involved
“sleeping around, kind of,” and drinking.
“When you know where they stand, you feel they’re
judging you...but they’re not,” Sheddon said.
|Some members of Master Plan Ministries
liken the group to a “big family.” However,
a large percentage of Resident Advisors are members of the
prompting concerns. /Photo by Todd Newcomer.
Master Plan Ministries was founded at Fort Lewis about 20 years
ago by Durango native Russ Akins, who still acts as its director.
Currently, there are over 150 active members at the college;
the group also has a presence at Grand Junction’s Mesa
According to the group’s Website, its goal is “preparing
others to reach and influence the world for Christ through spiritual
Master Plan activities include Welcome Week, when members help
freshmen move in, trash collection days, when members go to
dorm rooms collecting garbage, retreats at the group’s
lodge near Cascade Village, Thursday night men’s meetings,
Friday night two-hour “S&L” worship services,
weekend get togethers, outdoor activities like kayaking and
hiking, and about a dozen Bible study sessions each week.
Akins noted that Monday night features a “Cross Training”
meeting to help members deal with some campus hostilities, saying
that certain FLC professors are “anti-Jesus, anti-Bible,
In the “basics” segment, members discuss questions
like “how do you know Jesus was real,” according
to Akins. In the “apologetics” segment, members
learn how to answer questions from people who may have doubts
about Christianity, like how a loving God could allow war. “Disciple
building” focuses on leadership, or as Akins said, “How
to develop and train other people who are learning.”
This level of involvement and activity has been largely responsible
for raising hackles on campus.
“It’s definitely a topic of discussion among non-Master
Plan RAs,” said Aimee Goddard, a current non-Master Plan
RA. “Most of them are really good people, but they aren’t
getting a lot of monitoring.”
Goddard said she has heard concerns that Bible studies are
held by RAs as official campus programs in the dorms, and that
she has had Jewish residents complain about the name “Master
Plan,” as it has Nazi Germany connotations.
Goddard’s main concern is that some Master Plan members
are using their positions as RAs to recruit freshmen members.
“From what I’ve heard from residents, there are
almost whole halls of students that they’ve recruited,”
Goddard said. “I definitely think it’s an issue,
and it’s unethical, really.”
Goddard said that she is the president of Feminist Voice, but
has kept her personal biases out of her position, and that none
of her residents are members “because I haven’t
pushed it on them.”
Goddard said she has expressed her concerns to her direct supervisor
and other housing officials, but isn’t sure if they will
address the situation or change their hiring policies.
“It’s a fine line for housing to walk. They can’t
not hire someone because of their religious beliefs –
that’s blatant discrimination,” Goddard said.
Andy Sheston, director of FLC housing, said he believes that
of 24 total RAs, there are currently eight who are active in
“They’re more organized this year, from what I’ve
heard,” Sheston said.
Sheston said RAs are responsible for weekly registered programs
to involve residents, like Superbowl parties, learning about
careers in the outdoors, and quilting workshops. He said RAs
who are members of Master Plan are permitted to have one Bible
study count as a registered program, provided the meetings are
open to everyone.
“We as a department promote diversity and inclusiveness,”
Sheston said that if you believe rumors, his department is
planning to hire all Master Plan Resident Advisors. However,
he added that when he mentioned the rumors to his assistant
director, who has worked in the department for years, “She
He said that in the past, the department has been accused of
exclusively hiring football players and homosexuals.
“It gets to be more than three people and it’s
a conspiracy,” Sheston said.
RAs for next semester have already been hired, and Sheston
that he doesn’t know how many are members of Master Plan.
He said RAs are recruited with an ad in the Independent, posters,
and by asking each current RA to find one or two residents to
recommend and give an application.
One current RA, John Fildes, is the president of Master Plan.
He said that though many of his residents have become involved
in Master Plan, he hasn’t actively promoted it –
they just associate him with the group and its activities and
approach him with questions. It’s then that his commitment
to the group and its principles surfaces.
“A lot of my residents have ended up getting hooked up
with Master Plan,” Fildes said. “It’s just
a part of me. I can’t help it sometimes.”
Fildes credits the organization with helping him stop stealing,
raising his GPA from 2.06 to 3.03, learning to make friends,
and gaining confidence. He said it is easy to abstain from drinking
and having sex.
“I’ve fallen in love with God, and I don’t
want to do anything to break his heart,” Fildes said.
Akins said this kind of passion for Christianity and Master
Plan makes the current membership special.
“This year’s and last year’s groups are the
most outward loving type people I’ve been around,”
Akins said. “There’s a lot of time they spend together
– it’s like a big family.”