Spring 2022 in Review~ #ELCMWrapped
For a chronology of our semester in the form of a picture gallery, scroll down just a little further!
It feels like every time we get our hopes up that the pandemic has finally, finally waned, something else crops up and knocks us off axis again. If the fall 2021 semester was the story of navigating the emerging delta variant, the spring was the scarier horror movie sequel about omicron. Case rates topped one million per day at the start of January and UMW started the semester back under strict protocols -- mandatory PCR re-entry testing, no communal meals, required masking in classrooms, and the encouragement to delay all non-essential gatherings, meaning we kicked off spring programming a little later and a little quieter than perhaps any of us might've hoped.
The joy and the privilege of ministry is that we have the flexibility to be nimble according to the conditions of life. All throughout the fall semester, we asked the question over and over and over: What is the purpose of church? What is the goal of ministry? How are people hurting? For what are they longing? How can we respond to the moment we find ourselves in? It wasn't until February that we started back our regular schedule of in-person weekly meetings, but the entire semester was framed by the creative effort to gather and to serve in ways that kept us and our communities safe. Below you'll find a bulleted list of some of the ministry highlights, and some pictures of the weird and wild last couple of months and our work to make the most of a weird time.
Partnering with the CCC, we made thirty some-odd "quarantine bags" for students who test positive and were moved to the quarantine dorm in Marshall Hall. It can be a scary and isolating experience to uproot and be alone, and we hoped that some coloring books and fidget spinners and other bits and bobs would remind students that their community is looking out for them.
In conversation with the Radical Students Union, we ran a supplies drive for the Eagle Resource Closet and Micah Ecumenical Ministries, collecting masks and hand sanitizer and food stuffs for underresourced folks in what is still a tough season of the pandemic.
Our missioner, Ethan, and Fr. Will at St. George's created a Lenten video series about the five points of Christian practice from the Invitation to a Holy Lent from the BCP. Those videos are available HERE or embedded below!
We kicked off our new ministry idea: 'Praying Hooky', an alternative to Sunday morning worship. We skipped church and spent the morning out in the Fredericksburg community, Agora, Old Mill Park, the Co-op enjoying one anothers' company and fostering communion from another angle.
The House and the CCC celebrated Maundy Thursday together with a joint dinner and bible study of the passion story. The evening included making a knotted prayer drape for the cross and finished at Christ Lutheran where Ethan preached the Maundy Thursday service.
Adjacent to some work on UMW Safe Zone committee, our missioner has been working with Elizabeth from the CCC to get to know faculty and staff from the university, including from their sponsoring congregations. During dead week (the week between finals and graduation), they hosted some faculty and staff for an afternoon tea and to wonder together what kind of consistent ministry might support the employees of the university, too.
Finals week survival kits made their triumphant return and were a smash hit among the campus community during the Monday and Tuesday of finals week. In addition, Elizabeth and Ethan were invited to write an article for Building Faith about this ministry! The article is available HERE.
There were a big handful of graduation celebration get togethers, for some of our graduating seniors -- a party at The House, a dinner downtown, a luncheon get together, and a Wednesday evening dinner and conversation among members of The House and The CCC about what to expect in the first few years of post-college young adulthood.
And finally, The House continued in its on-going zhuzhing, including a new painted pink office with installed white board, some new indoor/outdoor plants (including a monstera that just won't quite), and some all-weather adirondack chairs for the front yard! We also installed a new photo collage on the living room wall and were blessed with an iPad illustration of The House by one of the young adults in our broader community.
We're grateful for getting through the semester more-or-less scot-free, so happy for our seniors, and so looking forward to seeing what kinds of unexpected and exciting work God will do in our community next year. It would have been impossible to anticipate the blessings God poured out over the last eight months, and it's so fun to wonder and hope what else could be in store for us. But for now, it's summer!
A spring 2022 photo journal: