Our Response to UVA’s Announcement
A ministry update for the weeks ahead
I’m writing in response to President Jim Ryan’s announcement that, as a result of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the University of Virginia “will not be holding classes on Grounds for the foreseeable future, quite possibly through the end of the semester.” Students are “strongly encouraged to return home or to remain home if they are already there.”
If you’re like me, this came as a shock. I knew that it was possible, even likely, given the other school closings, but I couldn’t imagine it happening here. Perhaps you’re like me too, though, in your appreciation for the University’s commitment to reduce risk, “especially for our health system and the medical center, which is a Level 1 trauma center and may be stretched to the limits in the coming weeks and months.” I have several family members who work in the UVA medical system, so I get it!
What then is the Study Center’s response to all this? To begin with, we are reminding ourselves here that our God is sovereign and good, which means that he is uniquely able to bring good out of any situation–and that he often chooses to do so through his people. Do we trust him to do that? Are we open to his using us in the process? To be honest, we’re still reeling a bit, but we also see this as a God-given opportunity for faith, for prayer, and, yes, for ministry.
With that in mind all of us here at the Study Center remain committed to the good and growth of our students, in whatever ways possible, in the weeks (and perhaps months) ahead. If the University is working “to ensure the continuity of [its] teaching, research, and clinical care,” can we do any less on the ministry side? In fact, it may be more necessary than ever to find innovative ways for students to continue God-centered conversations or Bible studies or book discussions in the remainder of this semester. That’s what we plan to do and we look forward to sharing the details with you in the days ahead.
At the same time the Study Center itself will remain open (similar too to the University’s policy). Our staff will be here reaching out to students, though for the most part over the phone or online. There may be some community members and students here as well, though we expect the numbers to be low. In any case, we will continue to monitor the situation, including the numbers and health of those in the building. We’re aware that things may change rapidly and we’re committed to the well-being of everyone here.
In the meantime, we would certainly appreciate your prayers: that students may grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord this semester, wherever they may be, and that this ministry (and others) will have wisdom knowing how to encourage that. Finally, may the Lord bring us all to an increased dependence on him, a deeper experience of prayer and intercession, and an increased commitment to creatively connect and care for others in these challenging times!
Yours in him,