Wednesday, March 18, 2020

So, what does campus ministry look like when campus is closed?

I am sure you guys have received emails about COVID-19 from every single company you have ever given your email to, but here is another one from your friendly campus minister :) What am I doing with my time while everything around us seems to be on hold or canceled? What will FOCUS look like at UTA this semester given that the campus is basically closed? Will we still send students to Washington for SICM despite the large concentration of coronavirus cases there? All great questions.

I want to assure those of you that financially support my ministry that I am still hard at work to fulfill my calling as a campus minister. I am using FaceTime and Google Meet to get time with students and staff. I will meet with students one-on-one and two-on-one as much as I can wisely do so. I will read and study to be a better and more equipped minister. I will begin thinking through and planning for next year. Campus is closed, but campus ministry is still very much happening!

Below is a letter from our FOCUS director, Brandon Worsham. I wanted to keep you in the loop and ask you to pray for our ministry. Our students are going to struggle. For many of them, FOCUS is their main spiritual community and source of friendship. Many of our students and some of our staff have already been hit with anxiety in this time. Things around us are clearly uncertain, but I can honestly say I feel hopeful and excited to see God work through his people's creativity and perseverance in meeting the needs around us. It is our hope and prayer that we can play a small part in the restorative work that the Lord is going to do through this difficult time. 

"To the FOCUS Community:

I want to update you on how FOCUS is responding to COVID-19, especially in light of so many of our campuses extending spring break and moving to online instruction only afterward. As a community, we need to be praying diligently for our world during this concerning time. We don’t need to panic, because we know our hope is secure in Christ, but we do need to take action in order to love our neighbors well. Those actions may be personally inconvenient, uncomfortable, and/or expensive. The situation is evolving daily, and spring break has disrupted our normal schedules and access to one another, so we will hopefully have more definite plans in the coming 2 weeks, but here are the actions we are currently taking/considering:

The 3 SSI trips from Washington State that were scheduled to arrive on March 22 are cancelled.

Pizza Theology will not happen in its normal format on March 29, but we are considering our options for livestreaming a special teaching time, so stay tuned!

After tonight, we are cancelling our weekly large group fellowships (TNF, TNT, FNF) on our various campuses. We will be following the various policies on each campus to determine how long that will be in effect. We are also considering livestreamed weekly services to replace these. 

One-on-ones and FOJ studies will continue as planned, moving to phone or video calls depending on the health and comfort levels of the students and pastors involved.

For cores and other small groups, we are working with student life offices to determine what policies may affect those. We will not stop small groups of adults from gathering together, but we are also working on developing a video conferencing option. We will certainly encourage all sick or exposed students to stay away from others.

Leader development meetings on Monday nights will move to small groups led by a pastor, whether in-person or virtual.

We are waiting to make a final determination on SICM plans. We haven’t spent any money yet and it’s not urgent for a few more weeks. We will continue to monitor the situation for now.

Thanks for being gracious and flexible. We as a team of pastors are committed to providing pastoral care to the students in our community and beyond.

For the kingdom,
Brandon Worsham"

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