Religious organization leaders are using virtual and socially distanced policies to allow their services to continue across campus.
Matt Medl, a third-year English student and president of the Methodist Student Network, said there is definitely a difference in meetings this year.
“I think we work best in a group, because we really get to bounce ideas off of each other, and even if it’s a different perspective, it really just improves your own perspective and helps educate you,” Medl said.
While the Methodist Student Network is still having its weekly meals, everyone is required to wear a mask and maintain distance when inside the building.
For services, only two people are allowed per pew. The chapel is big enough to accommodate 50 people with the social distancing rules.
“I think we’re really trying everything we can to make sure it's set as safe as possible, but also as comfortable as possible, for an easy flow of ideas and discussion,” Medl said.
The Muslim Students Association has canceled many of its annual events, such as bonfires, bowling, potlucks, hiking and fundraising events. However, the organization still has meetings and daily group prayers in Russell House.
“It's just really sad that we're not able to host any social events due to certain circumstances now. So, it is really upsetting, but at least we can have the in-person meetings,” said Lyla Warsi, president of the Muslim Students Association and a fourth-year public health student.
Tom Wall, the campus minister for the Methodist Student Network, said he plans to use the outdoors as an opportunity to have group discussions.
“We want to use the outside space as much as possible as well, because we have a nice patio, so we have tables, tents, umbrellas, that kind of stuff,” Wall said.
Wall's daughter Mackin works as an associate for the Methodist Student Network and enforces the social distancing.
“I sit here all day, so I will have to be on people saying, 'Oh, can you get further apart? Can you put a mask on?' Stuff like that,” Mackin Wall said.
Paul Sterne, the chaplain at the C.S. Lewis Student Center across from campus, said he has turned to virtual services to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"Our main service is Choral Evensong on Sunday nights, followed by Bible study," Sterne said in an email interview. "After COVID-19 hit, we curtailed the Evensong back, and most everything was spoken and livestreamed, but occasionally we had our organist come play."
The people performing in the C.S. Lewis chapel for the virtual services have also been required to wear masks and maintain a distance from others.
The future events of these religious organizations are still being determined. Warsi said she is hopeful that members of the Muslim Students Association will still be able to get to know each other despite social-distancing requirements and having to cancel some events.
“I'm hoping it won't stop us from getting to know each other and just being there for each other. But social events would have helped so much more, just to have something outside of school,” Warsi said.
Editor's Note: If you have a story about your religious organization and/or practicing your faith during COVID-19, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.