Community leader Rev. Max Blalock out after 14 years of service


Sunday, April 28, the United Methodist Church-sponsored Wesley Foundation at the College of William and Mary hosted a farewell party for Reverend Max Blalock after his 14 years of service at the College. Current and former students as well as local church members gathered on the Wesley front lawn to celebrate Blalock with a dinner and parting speeches.

Last month, the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church informed Blalock that the Rev. Ryan LaRock is to be appointed in his place as campus minister and director of the Wesley Foundation starting July 1, 2024. The Conference’s online announcement mentioned that this change is part of a broader “season of renewal and joy” for the Church. LaRock will additionally serve as a chief visionary for the New Town UMC and the Mission Rivers District. 

“The appointment offers an opportunity for ministry innovation that enhances the connection between the Wesley Foundation and new ministries at New Town, while continuing to strengthen ministry with other Williamsburg-area churches and across the Mission Rivers district,” the Conference’s announcement read.

Elizabeth Lundy ’23, who grew up in the UMC, is aware of on-going financial struggles in the church as well as a more-recent schism over LGBTQ+ identities.

“I knew that there’s a lot going on with those churches in regards to the split, and I know that the churches I was in back home are struggling with funding and keeping ministers and such, and there’s been a lot of movement of pastors,” Lundy said. “But it’s shocking to me that this move was taken because he’s been here so long and he’s so embedded in the community.”

The news of Blalock’s departure came unexpectedly and much of the community has experienced shock and disbelief. Sadie Vaughan ’27, a Co-Fellowship Chair for the Wesley Foundation, still struggles to understand the Conference’s reasoning.

“So, being on the board, I am aware, like, I do know the reason,” Vaughan said. “It’s for financial reasons and as much as I understand it, I don’t.”

For the past few weeks, Wesley Foundation members and non-members alike have felt deeply affected by the sudden loss.

“I am, of course, quite upset by Max Blalock’s termination,” Co-President of the Wesley Student Leadership Team Annamarie Warnke ’25 said. “He’s a pillar of the Wesley community and the W and M community at large. His termination certainly wasn’t something we were expecting or hoping for. It also brings a lot of hurt for all the current students and alumni who have worked with him or relied on him through difficult times.”

For the latter half of his farewell party, community members spoke on how Blalock will be remembered. His influence on the community brought many to tears.

In an prior interview, the Wesley Small Group Chair Helen Tiffin ’26 was overcome with emotion when describing what Blalock and his tenure has meant to her. 

“Something I’ve been saying a lot is Max Blalock is the definition of and lives out William and Mary’s ‘When you’re here, you’re home,’” Tiffin said. “Of course, he’s the Wesley campus minister and he helps with everything there and he helps run Food for All, the campus food exchange. He helps with MSA, Hillel and Jewish Voices for Justice.” 

To conclude the night in his honor, Blalock touched on how the community has equally shaped him and made him a better person.

“I have to say thank you to all of you students,” Blalock said. “Because, I’m not the same person I was when I got here, and that’s because of you. You know, because of the ways you’ve trusted me. Because of the ways you have encouraged me. Because of the ways you have critiqued me. Because of all those things, I am such a better human because of you students.”

Nevertheless, Wesley Foundation members remain optimistic about the Foundation’s future.

“We have met the new person,” Tiffin said. “The new person is a good fit. I think it’s promising. You know, he aligns with all of our values, with LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter. So that’s not a concern. Things will just be drastically different simply because it’s not Max.”

Bennett Snyder ’25, the other co-president of Wesley Student Leadership, echoed this sentiment about the foundation moving forward.

“I mean, it’s a big transition, but I think Wesley will still stay the same in terms of its place on campus,” Synder. “And being a place of community, a strong community of students who love each other as well as a community that reaches outward to campus to fight for things like food insecurity, social justice.”

Allisyn Lam ’25 has created a petition on, advocating for the College to hire Blalock in a position that allows him to continue serving the local community. Regardless, Blalock shared he plans on staying in Williamsburg for the near future. 

“We’re staying here in Williamsburg because this is our home and this is what is best for our family,” Blalock said. “So I’m going to look for another position. I don’t know what that will turn out to be, but we’re staying.”


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