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COVID-19: Move-In Day Encouragement

Dear Colleagues,

 

Here we sit (and when I say sit, I don’t mean to suggest that we’re not running around as if our hair is on fire) on the eve of Move-In Day—a Move-In Day unlike any other in the college’s history. As we prepare to welcome two hundred twenty-something new students to campus over the next three days, and then returning students over the three days after that, operating under guidelines and restrictions that seriously complicate our work, I want to say thank you. I am so grateful for the extra hours you’ve put in, the scenario-planning you’ve done, the problems you’ve solved, the training you’ve done, the new procedures you’ve implemented, the precautions you’ve taken, the deference you’ve demonstrated, the technology you’ve installed, the new spaces you’ve created, the courses you’ve redesigned, the counseling you’ve done with students, the gracious interactions you’ve had with parents, the cleaning you’ve done, the willingness you’ve demonstrated to take on extra work for the sake of the college’s mission, and … I’m sure I could come up with more. It is a gargantuan task to open and run a college every year. It is an even more gargantuan task when you’re having to do so on thin margins, with a lot of extra red tape, in a fluid public health environment, with a lot of uncertainty still in the future. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you have done to get us to this point.

 

I also want to offer some encouragement. It’s no secret that our margins are thin; that we are having to do more, sometimes with less; that we are operating with a greater sense of uncertainty than we normally would, and hence with a greater sense of apprehension about the semester and year that lie in front of us. I know that some of you feel like you’re being stretched to the breaking point, and you worry about what will happen if things snap or fall apart. I want to say two things. First, remember that we serve a God who is sovereign over all things—who knows us, who loves us, and who promises to work all things together for our good. We know that doesn’t necessarily mean things will be easy or comfortable, but it’s a great comfort to me to be reminded that, at the end of the day, what happens this year is in his hands. Second, as so many are feeling stretched, let’s remember to encourage and lift one another up. We all have some tough assignments right now. Let’s not forget that—as Kevin Smith reminded us during our service of confession and lament just a couple months ago—we are one Covenant, united in Christ, brothers and sisters working together to equip the next generation to bear faithful witness, in word and deed, to Christ’s preeminence in all things. Satan would have us at each other’s throats. Let’s make sure we are supporting and encouraging one another in this unusual and challenging time.

 

Finally, I want to say that I am incredibly proud of you all. You have done all that could possibly be expected of you in these trying circumstances. We have put together a really good plan for this fall. Because I get to talk to other college presidents fairly frequently, I know how anxious many of them are about this semester. And I can say that because of your willingness to deploy the gifts, insights, and energies God has granted you in service to the college, we are in as good a place as I could imagine us being. We can’t know what the future holds, but we have done what we could to ready ourselves for it. I am confident both in the work you have done to prepare and in God’s faithful and guiding hand over the coming months. It’s not going to be a typical semester, but I believe it will, in its own way, be a very good one (because that’s so often how God operates).

 

So, as we get ready to welcome students to campus: Thank you! Great work! And let’s continue to life one another up as we seek to be faithful to the calling God has given us.

 

Honored to serve our risen King with you,

 

JDH