MALÉ GININDZA, TRUMPET GUEST WRITER
Spiritual Life and Campus Ministry are providing pastoral care to more students who have been exposed to someone with the virus or have been infected themselves.
“We are certainly seeing more students coming in for individual visits,” Rev. Dr. Pastor Brian Beckstrom, dean of Spiritual Life, said. “COVID has required us to adapt to almost all our ministries. The sanctuary has been marked off for social distancing, and we are requiring masks at all times.”
COVID-19 has led to individuals looking to their faith more in unprecedented times — one in four Americans say the coronavirus has deepened their religious faith, according to a poll conducted by Pew Research.
Wartburg College students who are in quarantine or isolation do not have the opportunity to socialize and are required to stay in their rooms. This may affect the mental health of the students and heighten depression and anxiety, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
According to Study International News, 71% of university students who died in 2018-19 did so by suicide. The COVID-19 pandemic is a negative factor for students. The stressors of college, work and being exposed to the coronavirus are factors that do not go unnoticed and have to be attended to, according to the CDC.
“When the numbers in quarantine and isolation were high we packed care packages and distributed them to students,” Beckstrom said, “We also continue to let students know that we are happy to bring them communion or meet with them over Zoom.”
Rebecca Baird, pastoral intern, said that the pandemic has not limited them, but has forced Wartburg’s Spiritual Life and Campus Ministry to make alterations for the better. This allows them to support students who are in quarantine and isolation that cannot attend chapel.
“As a college of the church, we have had to create and redefine what it means to be in community, even though we may not always be gathered within the chapel walls,” Baird said.
Baird said that the students are the ones who brought forward the idea of creating care packages for their peers in isolation and quarantine. These bags include snacks and positive reminders.
The role of religion has been highlighted in the pandemic, specifically for students who are far from home because they are not physically able to see their family.
Students can view chapel services on KnightVision, where they are livestreamed and archived. They can also schedule an appointment with Beckstrom or Baird at calendly.com/rebeccabaird or calendly.com/brian-beckstrom.
Spiritual Life and Campus Ministry offices are located on the third floor of the chapel tower with the entrance through the skywalks.