Ministry alive and well for university, college students

April 20, 2020
By Rev. Brandon McGinnis
As the cancellations of in-person learning took effect across all levels of public and private education, our Kentucky Annual Conference extension ministries that serve on college and university campuses adapted in how they could continue to be in ministry with their students who are now scattered across the state and country.  
Within our Kentucky Annual Conference, seven Wesley Foundations are serving seven public universities and three United Methodist colleges. Most of our universities and colleges were either on spring break or getting ready for spring break when the news of a continued spring break followed by two weeks of online learning was announced. It was the hope that in-person classes would resume after that two-week break, but within a matter of days the severity of the COVID 19 pandemic became more known and all in-person classes were canceled. Students moved out of dorms within a few weeks, and all students and faculty have been learning to deal with a new normal of online learning for the remainder of the semester.
Much like churches, our collegiate ministries are trying to figure out how to still be in ministry while we can’t be together. Each in  its own way is continuing to reach out to students and stay connected. Through social media devotionals, prerecorded worship experiences, Zoom gatherings for worship, Bible study, leadership meetings, pastoral care, email newsletters and texting, the campus ministries continue to connect students even though we can’t be physically present with each other.   
While learning how to navigate online classes, many of our students are also learning how to navigate things like trying to find work at home, be at home with family, and struggling through the uncertainty (like all of us), the worry over summer jobs/internships and how all this will affect their future. But in all the uncertainty and worry, our students show signs of hope and resilience. College students are already used to life changing rapidly. They live day to day and life on a college campus, for the most part, feels like it is in constant tilt. Unfortunately, these environments tend to foster greater signs of stress, but they also create great abilities to roll with the punches of life. 
Our collegiate ministries have been committed to and will continue to be committed to creating environments where students know they are loved, connected, equipped and invited to live out their lives for Jesus Christ wherever they may be planted. Our collegiate ministries continue to do the same thing we have always done; the way we are doing it has changed.  Please join us in prayer for our campus ministries, our campus ministers, and the students as we all do our best to live as light, hope, grace, love and peace in our new reality. 

Brandon McGinnis is Director of the Wesley Foundation at Eastern Kentucky University.