Campus Ministries Continue to Fight COVID-19

Those+worshipping+at+the+UCM+Baptist+Student+Union+continue+to+observe+social+distancing+guidelines.

Photo by Abram Tabor

Those worshipping at the UCM Baptist Student Union continue to observe social distancing guidelines.

Written by Abram Tabor, Reporter

 

Benjamin Kirtley speaks to socially-distances students at the weekly Baptist Student Union worship event. The students at the BSU continue to worship, although COVID-19 creates challenges. Kirtley said, “All three of our Community Groups have noticed that friends are less willing to attend group activities, even though we follow mask and distancing recommendations.” (Photo by Abram Tabor)

  During the COVID-19 pandemic, campus ministries have had to deal with effects on student involvement, outreach and financial contributions. UCM is home to several different campus ministries, including the Navigators, Risen Multicultural Ministry, the Baptist Student Union, and more. Each of these ministries operates on a non-profit basis, some operating out of home churches and others as independent organizations. However, they all depend on donations and student involvement to operate. 

  COVID-19 and the university’s regulations have had an effect on ministry donations and student involvement, said Benjamin Kirtley, the UCM Baptist Student Union’s associate campus minister. The BSU receives funding from local churches and people who support the ministry. 

  “Churches everywhere have seen reduced giving; since much of our budget is from churches, we have also been affected,” Kirtley said.

  The biggest change for the ministry, however, is with student involvement. 

  “While they are necessary, masks can be a barrier to building relationships,” Kirtley said. “Our elevated concern about COVID-19 makes it nearly impossible to meet new people in public areas, like the Union. All three of our Community Groups have noticed that friends are less willing to attend group activities, even though we follow mask and distancing recommendations.”

  The changes COVID-19 brought are not the same for all ministries. Some have seen an increase in support. McCullen Galloway, UCM campus director for the Navigators, an international Christian ministry, has been “pleasantly surprised” to be unaffected financially. Galloway said the Navigators have seen some increases in recent financial contributions to the ministry.

  “We had one donor increase support by fifty percent,” Galloway said, “We’ve seen increases in friends taking steps of faith. I think God is calling his church and his people to radical generosity in a season where that doesn’t make sense from a worldly perspective.”

The Navigators worship while wearing masks and following COVID-19 guidelines. (Photo by Abram Tabor)

  Galloway said several activities have been limited for everyone’s safety and to abide by university policies. 

  “It used to be really common to all go out to eat at a restaurant after one of our events,” he said. “Given current events, that would be unwise and simply unsafe.” 

  These changes have become commonplace in many campus ministries, as they opt for different activities while wearing masks and gloves. Jazmyn Smith-Reed, creative director for Risen Multicultural Ministries on campus, said toward the beginning of the pandemic, they had to address the additional challenges of how to get together safely. 

  “We meet in the union in the Multicultural Center now, but in the beginning, we had some real changes we had to make there,” Smith-Reed said.

  Unlike the Navigators, who are still seeing consistent turnout, Risen is seeing less people at their events. 

  “Our numbers, like with members coming out to our meetings on Wednesdays, have decreased because a lot of people like to stay conscious, you know,” Smith-Reed said. “They just make sure they’re not doing too much outside of their room activities.”

  Risen has not experienced such changes with their finances, as they receive the strong majority of their funding through the Student Funding Committee on campus.