Tag Archives: wes tillett

Social Distancing – LUM Staff Meeting


Volunteers & Staff – Adapting to COVID-19

LUM is determined to remain open to support local families in need and individuals experiencing homelessness. To maintain a safe & healthy space, LUM staff members communicate regularly, adapt to the ever-changing situation, support each other and practice self-care. LUM Staff members have been meeting more frequently — using video conferencing (pictured).

Please remember LUM during this difficult time. Your gifts of cash donations ($5, $10, $50, $100 or $500), needed items (cleaning supplies, food pantry items & shelter meals), and time (volunteer at the shelter or food pantry) are GREATLY appreciated and needed.

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Social Distancing – LUM Staff Meeting

Zoom Staff Meeting Led By Wes Tillett

During this crisis, the LUM Staff members have been meeting more frequently — using video conferencing (pictured).

LUM is determined to remain open to support local families in need and individuals experiencing homelessness. To do this and maintain a safe & healthy environment, LUM staff members communicate regularly, adapt to the ever-changing situation, support each other and practice self-care — physically, spiritually and emotionally.


The LUM Emergency Shelter and Protein Food Pantry remain open with strict protocols to keep everyone safe. The LUM Good Samaritan Program (emergency financial assistance) and Immigration Clinic are serving clients using online forms, email and the phone.

Please remember LUM during this difficult time. Your gifts of cash donations ($5, $10, $50, $100 or $500), needed items (cleaning supplies, food pantry items & shelter meals), and time (volunteer at the shelter or food pantry) are GREATLY appreciated and needed.

Donate $$ | Donate Needed Items | Volunteer | Prepare a Shelter Meal

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Social Distancing – LUM Board Meeting

First Ever – LUM Board “Video” Meeting

Last night, the LUM Board of Directors held their monthly meeting using video conferencing. The agenda was distributed along with a code to “Join the Meeting” online. The remote meeting was productive, albeit unorthodox, and successfully connected and engaged everyone involved. Joan Low, LUM board president, led the meeting; and Wes Tillett attended and contributed for the first time as the LUM executive director.

Pictured are the LUM board & staff members who participated. This is yet another example of how LUM is adapting to the COVID-19 crisis because LUM is determined to continue serving local families and children in need.


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Social Distancing – LUM Staff Meeting

Zoom Staff Meeting Led By Wes Tillett

This week, Wes Tillett presided over his first staff meeting as the LUM executive director. Of course it was a remote, video staff meeting. Because many LUM staff members have not “seen” each other in more than two weeks, the energy was high. The mood was collaborative, focused and compassionate. The meeting ended with each staff member even more determined to find a way to support local children and families by continuing to keep LUM open for business.


The LUM Emergency Shelter and Protein Food Pantry remain open with strict protocols to keep everyone safe. The LUM Good Samaritan Program (emergency financial assistance) and Immigration Clinic are serving clients using online forms, email and the phone.

Please remember LUM during this difficult time. Your gifts of cash donations ($5, $10, $50, $100 or $500), needed items (cleaning supplies, food pantry items & shelter meals), and time (volunteer at the shelter or food pantry) are GREATLY appreciated and needed.

Donate $$ | Donate Needed Items | Volunteer | Prepare a Shelter Meal

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A Letter from Wes Tillett – LUM Executive Director


Hello! It is a joyful honor to re-enter the Lafayette Urban Ministry orbit. My wife and I have fondness in our hearts for LUM (15 years ago, when I had hair) and are excited to jump back in, rekindle old connections, nurture new connections, and introduce our children to this amazing ministry.

If you are reading this, it tells me that you are an active part of the LUM family. Thank you! Every person matters. Every act of generosity of time, talent, and treasure counts. I am grateful for how you have helped make LUM such a helpful and healthy agency that serves others.

As I enter into the Executive Director position, I am humbled by and appreciative of the fabulous and faithful leadership of Joe Micon. His record of 495 consecutive board meetings is in no danger of being broken by me (I’d have to serve until I was 83). I know Joe built on the foundation of Executive Directors, Rev. Jud Dolphin and Rev. Ron Elly. I am asking God for the grace to continue a legacy of courageous servant-leadership with LUM.

No doubt there is some anxiety as a new person takes a place of leadership.
Can we trust Wes? Is he capable? Will he change everything? Will we like him? Will he like us? Can he faithfully maximize the good that is already present in LUM and effectively navigate future realities? All those questions are honest and good — and normal.

In response to those types of questions, I reassure you that I come into this role with both a sense of humility and confidence — and a “dependence on God” to give me the wisdom to respond to the ever-evolving needs of the Lafayette / West Lafayette community and to show up strong in the midst of my weakness (“My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” 2 Corinthians 12:9). As a recovering perfectionist, I am keenly aware of my weaknesses, more than my strengths; and it is a comfort to know that God fills in my gaps.

As for my confidence, it is built upon the reality that “God cares more about this than I do and will work it out better than I can.” This faith has guided me over the past 10 years – moving to the Middle East (Lebanon) and moving back to the Midwest (Michigan) to start a new congregation (Voyage Church).

I have seen the faithfulness of God at every turn—honing my strengths and granting me success. All of this goodness gives me confidence to experience that goodness in the present and the future.

I am excited to move back to Tippecanoe County, learn the ropes of LUM, appreciate what is, and dream about what could be. What would it look like to more and more effectively meet the needs of children and families, of immigrants, of individuals without homes, and the most vulnerable among us? What would it look like to do what together we do at LUM so well that other communities seek to follow our model? With God all things are possible.

Let’s continue to lean in and serve those around us. I am eager to learn and grow, to lead and serve.

Wes Tillett, LUM Executive Director

The Rev. Wes Tillett – LUM Executive Director


His Vision, His Passion & His Inspiration

Restoring human dignity…which all God’s people need and deserve” is the part of the LUM Mission Statement that speaks to Wes Tillett the most. He stated that,

Each of us is made in God’s image — ‘Imago Dei.’ Everyone has value and meaning and is worthy of love and respect. The word, ‘dignity,’ perfectly encapsulates that sentiment. I pledge to continue the long history of LUM to meet people right where they are — and offer help and hope.” 

Wes attempts to “Live a Life of Love” each and every day (Ephesians 5:2). He commented that,

Love is the most important thing to me. A love that’s full of action, full of grace and truth, full of justicepeace, and joy, full of the life-giving nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Wes is inspired by faithfulness. He stated that, “It is so easy to be distracted, to be motivated by FOMO (fear of missing out), to take the convenient way out when things get tough. When people have grit, when they keep their word, when they have integrity in public and private, when they make sacrifices to help others, I get inspired.” He is inspired by “all those unknown saints who are faithful to God in their own quiet way, day after day.

Wes is also inspired by the three executive directors who have preceded him. These three leaders, Joe Micon, the Rev. Jud Dolphin, and the late Rev. Ron Elly, have left a legacy of serving “the least” and thereby serving God (Matthew 25:40). They have, over the decades, built a strong agency that has a solid infrastructure, vital services, talented staff, dedicated volunteers including board members, supportive community and government partners and a great reputation. Wes is honored and humbled to serve as the next leader of Lafayette Urban Ministry.

Recently, Rita, Wes’s wife, met a former LUM Camper of his from 15 years ago, who is now 23 years old. Wes was amazed to hear how much his attention and affection meant to this camper. He added,

As I come to serve at LUM again, I hope to enrich the lives of thousands of people — those who are served and those who serve. Hope, help, healing, hospitality — all done in love and wisdom — I hope to uplift many in the community through these.


His Experience & His Education

Wes Tillett earned a BA in Biblical Education and graduated summa cum laude from Cedarville University (Ohio). He was elected by the student body to serve on a student pastoral leadership team — preaching and leading worship on campus. He earned a Master in Divinity from Western Theological Seminary (Michigan), where he received two awards as an outstanding graduating candidate and a third for outstanding work in Christian education and formation for ministry assignments.

From 2003-2010, the Tillett family lived in downtown Lafayette and were engaged with LUM. In 2005, Wes was the assistant to the program director of the LUM After School Program, who at the time was his wife, Rita. He assisted in program logistics, tutored, mentored and in the process became a self-proclaimed basketball champion & kickball legend. During this time he also served as a volunteer LUM Camp counselor. Wes was the youth minister at First Christian Church (2003-2005) and then the director of Family & Youth Ministries at Central Presbyterian Church (2005-2010). He was the Mission Co-Worker in Zahle, Lebanon (2010-2012) and served in various churches in Indiana, Michigan, and Virginia. 

For the past seven years, the Rev. Wesley Tillett has been the founding, lead pastor at Voyage Church in Oshtemo, Michigan. He also founded the Oshtemo Area Churches, a coalition of five churches from different denominations, which addresses food insecurity, mentoring, tutoring, and clothing needs, by partnering with food banks and elementary schools. OAC received the Champ Award in 2016 by the Communities in Schools.


His Family, His Background, His Favorites

Wes Tillett is originally from Rensselaer, Indiana, and graduated from Rensselaer Central High School. He currently lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with his family and their goldendoodle, Hunter.

Wes and his wife, Rita HurleyTillett, grew up together and were middle school sweethearts. One Christmas day, when they weren’t even dating, Wes showed up at Rita’s doorstep to ask if she’d marry him. Today they are the proud and grateful parents of four children — Tobias (13), Kidest (11), Avalyn (6), and Noah (5). Wes and Rita feel blessed to have received their children through birth and adoption — internationally from Ethiopia and domestically through foster care.

Growing up on the prairies of northwest Indiana, Wes developed a love for the outdoors and Chicago sports teams (Bears, Bulls and Cubs); and Wes & Rita grew up cheering for the Purdue Boilermakers. (Boiler Up!) Wes enjoys swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, water skiing and stand-up paddle boarding, also known as “SUP-ing.” He also loves playing board games with his children, date nights with Rita, hiking with his dog (Hunter), traveling to new places, playing guitar & hand drums, painting, and spending time alone with God. He has a passion for holistic health (body, mind, soul) and staying in shape by participating in 5K runs and sprint triathlons. In addition to his work, Wes has been active in the community with agencies focused on children, mentoring, and education.

  • Wes’s favorite Bible passage is, “I am the vine; you are the branches” (John 15:5)
  • His favorite quote is “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years,” attributed to Mark Twain
  • His favorite poem is The Peace of Wild Things by poet, novelist, essayist, farmer, and environmentalist, Wendell Berry, from Kentucky 

The Peace of Wild Things


When despair for the world grows in me and

I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water,

and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.

I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.

For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

~ Wendell Berry (1968)