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Fellowship During a Pandemic


Church is a place of worship, a place for healing and fellowship. In the south, the bible belt presence is hard to miss. As a student at UNG, ministries on campus are nothing new to me; their dedication during this pandemic is significant. As of Feb. 1, 2021 student organizations are allowed to resume in-person meetings and events following the COVID-19 guidelines. This means that students can come back together in fellowship safely again.

How do virtual services impact UNG student ministries? Did attendance decline? Were students literally disconnected or simply felt detached? Student ministry leaders across all UNG campuses had much to say about meetings in-person compared to online. Then and now, all these student ministries shared Christ to college students during a pandemic that left many students feeling isolated.

Senior psychology major Heidi Cole has been president of the UNG Episcopal Campus Ministry on the Dahlonega campus for two years. Cole is excited that services are in-person now. Zoom-only fellowship is not her favorite medium for services, but she and her members made it work.

“With zoom we try not to speak or recite prayers in unison and in-person worship with sacraments is out of the question due to safety concerns.” – Heidi Cole

Cole also mentioned she understands the “Zoom-burnout” that occurs when students have multiple classes meeting through Zoom throughout the week. Student engagement is another important aspect of student ministry. Cole said, “Before our meetings moved to Zoom, we met each week for a home cooked meal made by one of the local episcopal church’s parishioners. We would eat together, enjoy each other’s fellowship and really just catch up with one another.”

For UNG Gainesville campus Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM), Zoom had a similar impact on attendance and engagement during online meetings. Co-President Kayleigh Riker said, “Gathering in person gives one a feeling of unity, support and connection whereas just getting online for a zoom call takes some motivation.”

Students discuss the Bible lesson for BCM in Gainesville.

Riker said students would gather in groups to join the Zoom call. She loves the BCM on the Gainesville campus because everyone is so close and connected to each other. She enjoys going out to lunch after service and reaching out to students. BCM on the Gainesville campus meets each Wednesday at 12p.m. at the Martha T. Nesbitt building, in the ballroom 3110B.

“I feel we all like to be together when studying God’s word, but God is just as effective no matter where we are,” said Sam Brown, a junior dual-major Computer Science and Cybersecurity major who serves as a social media and technical coordinator for BCM on the Dahlonega campus. Brown said that attendance for online service was roughly 25-30 students total, and now that in-person meetings are allowed again, there will be a 50-person cap for all services.

Brown’s hope for students is they get plugged into a ministry and have a relationship with Jesus. BCM had four services last semester and he hopes to work back up to that point again this semester with many students still attending regularly. He said students really prefer in-person services rather than online. Services are at 6 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. at the BCM house in Dahlonega.

For nationwide ministries like Delight, the only all women ministry at UNG, students have a different experience on the East Coast compared to the West Coast. Social media coordinator of UNG Delight, Katelyn Aquino, said that COVID-19 and virtual meetings have varied across the board with over 200 Delight chapters nationwide. Aquino is a sophomore art major with a focus on graphic design and is proud to serve with UNG Delight.

 “The East Coast for a big part has been able to adapt to the limited capacity restrictions some spaces set and have come up with creative ideas on how to have Delight in person in a safe way!” – Katelyn Aquino

Delight is a ministry inviting college women into a Christ-centered community that fosters vulnerability and transforms personal stories. “The West Coast is largely on lock down and Delight is being held virtually” Katelyn said. Despite what has happened over the past year, the UNG Delight chapter continues to serve and empower women’s student ministry with a variety of events, their most recent including the Kick-Off on Feb. 9  in the Hoag student center ABC room on the Dahlonega campus.

It is amazing how these student ministries have been able to keep students connected and involved safely. These student leaders show how faith in Christ has been the cornerstone for fellowship during this pandemic. The ministries included in this article are not all the faith-based organizations at UNG, there are more! Go to UNG Connect to find a ministry that is right for you!

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Mathew 11:28-30




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Fellowship During a Pandemic