Wesley Foundation honors Sparks
OSU ministry tells of growth at new facility, Sparks shares insights
Published Feb. 26, 2019
The Wesley Foundation at Oklahoma State University, 823 W. University Ave. in Stillwater, OK
STILLWATER, OK (Feb. 26, 2019) - The Wesley Foundation at Oklahoma State University honored Gary Sparks on Friday for his design work on its new Stillwater home. Rev. James Hunt, director of the OSU ministry, said student participation had picked up tremendously since the three-story facility opened last fall.
“Our worship attendance, small group participation, and Women’s Conference sign-ups have all grown significantly,” said Hunt, campus director of the 823 W. University Ave. facility. “We have had over 120 different students join us for worship, and we see new faces every week.
“Those are the tangible things,” Hunt told his audience. “There are intangibles as well. We are building stronger relationships with student organizations, university faculty and staff, and community leaders. We are building new bridges with local churches around the Oklahoma conference and they are sending their college students our way.”
While giving thanks to God, Hunt pinned some of this success on the beautiful and functional building design by Sparks and the Tulsa firm he co-founded, Sparks Reed Architecture and Interiors. Hunt also noted Pickens Stadium, Gallagher-Iba Arena, and other OSU building designs handled by Sparks through his career.
“The quality and creativity of your work, your relationship with your clients, and your integrity as a person makes us proud to call you a friend of the Wesley, and happy to welcome you up here tonight as our honoree,” said Hunt.
Sparks told the audience how his faith had shaped his professional life. He also shared how he had lived in the basement at the previous Wesley Foundation building, serving as a janitor and securing the site each night.
“When I came back to school in 1962, I didn’t have enough money to make it through the year,” said Sparks. “Had I not been able to get free housing at the Wesley Foundation, I would have had to drop out of school. That would have been the end of my efforts to become an architect,” as I probably never would have come back.”
About 100 supporters, directors, OSU faculty, and other people attended the Friday gala to celebrate the building and ministry. Hunt hopes to turn this into an annual fundraiser.
"We owe Gary Sparks, Jill Selman (a co-founder of Sparks Reed and Gary’s daughter), David Reed (the third Sparks Reed co-founder and principal), and the rest of Sparks Reed an incredible debt of gratitude,” said Hunt. “This is the finest Wesley Foundation building in the country. It's a place worth celebrating, and it's the kind of place that challenges the staff and I every day to use it to its fullest potential."