This week we had some students at college.
That should not sound interesting, but it’s only been the 8th day this unique academic year and the first time since October that we have seen students face to face. While we’ve thanked God regularly for Zoom and other digital technologies it was a joy to see that students still had legs and hear more than one voice at a time. As students moved round the CYM teaching centre (socially distanced of course) and even removed masks to sit down and eat together outside in the campus coffee shop I found that I was moved to see our little community come to life again.
They shared amazing stories of creative children’s ministry activities, engaging families at their doorsteps and experimenting in detached youth work the first time but at the same time were so excited that they were starting to see groups of young people again in parks and church grounds. They also shared their fears about meeting together again, the nervousness of relationships lost and their experiences of lateral flow tests and jabs.
When we redesigned our BA and MA courses last year we explored whether distance or online learning might be the way forward – it would help students at a distance engage with us for the first time and to learn how to learn in new ways for both staff and students. However the beauty of a community eating together, the informal walking along side people and creativity of shared activities reminded me that this is all part of our identity as individuals and as a community. We copy our created identity by meeting together face to face.
The power of sharing space with each other echoes God looking for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, meeting Elijah with his face covering in the cave and a trembling Isaiah in the envisioned throne room. It’s Jesus sharing food in the upper room, and later returning to face to face meetings in the locked room after the resurrection. It’s the church as body, vine, family and gathered multitude anticipated in Revelation. We are designed to be together.
CYM has always been a strong community – our students tell us that each year. It’s been beautiful seeing the community meet together again.
Principal Lecturer and Academic Studies Manager – CYM
Above: Robin Smith.