COVID-19: Encouragement As We Resume Classes
It’s been just over two weeks since we made the decision to go virtual for the remainder of the spring semester. I imagine that for most of you, your worlds have been fairly well turned upside-down in that time. I know that’s how we feel here on campus. In some respects, the past two weeks have flown by—they have been chock full of virtual meetings, phone calls, planning sessions, virtual meetings, training sessions, and more virtual meetings. In other respects, the last two weeks have felt like a lifetime. It seems like I’ve been logging onto Zoom calls and scheduling Google Hangouts forever. I’m guessing it’s been similar for all of you.
As we get ready to jump into our first week of virtual learning, I wanted to write with some words of encouragement. Even though this time is especially difficult for healthcare professionals, COVID-19 patients and family members, and those who have lost jobs, we recognize that this time has also been unusual and difficult for you. As someone who loves the rich and purposeful community life we enjoy on Covenant’s campus, it’s painful to think about what you’ve lost by not being able to be on campus for the second half of this semester.
At the same time, I can’t tell you how proud I am of the way you all have responded in this difficult situation. It has been so encouraging to watch you support one another digitally, to hear your stories about your time on campus, to see photos of your Covenant memories, and to listen in as you remind one another of the love of our sovereign redeemer. A lesser student body would have fallen apart. Instead, it seems like you have only become stronger. You are proving the theorem that healthy communities are not fragile—i.e., they break—and are not even resilient—i.e., they don’t break—but are anti-fragile—i.e., they become stronger under stress and pressure.
Your response gives me hope—certainly for your long-term influence in a world that desperately needs well-grounded, faithful men and women, but also for the work that lies in front of us over the remainder of the semester. Your faculty have been working diligently over the past two weeks to move courses online and to ensure that you have the best possible educational experience. Over the next six weeks, we will complete a semester in a format never even dreamed of by the men and women who founded Covenant College. It won’t always be easy—there will undoubtedly be glitches, and students and faculty alike will be asked to be disciplined and creative in new circumstances.
As we embark on this adventure, I want to exhort you to be gracious and patient, certainly with your faculty and classmates, but also with yourselves. Even as digital natives, you’ll hit some bumps. They may not be of your making, but they’re there. These next six weeks will provide opportunities for us to love one another well, even as we pursue with rigor and intensity the particular calling that God has given us in this season. Do not forget that your identity does not lie in your performance but in your status as a child of the King. And with that knowledge, chase after your calling with all the energy and excellence you can muster.
This semester is not finishing in the way that any of us would have envisioned, but there is still good work to be done and much to be learned. I am praying that God will bless your faithful efforts and grant you the strength, discipline, humility, and insight you need to accomplish what is asked of you. I know that he will use this semester to shape you as his servants and equip you to go into the world and bear witness, in word and deed, to Christ’s preeminence in all things.
Until God brings us together again,
J. Derek Halvorson, Ph.D.
In omnibus Christus primatum tenens