From the Board of Directors
A most unusual semester is now over. For much of the semester, students were all online for classes. Wesley Wednesdays started off in August with outdoor socially distanced worship on the St. James Retreat House lawn following a boxed meal provided by Great Harvest Bread. Board members and students alike who attended seemed pleased with the accommodations given COVID-19 restrictions. On August 26, ECU moved all undergraduate classes online. As a result, no campus organizations could have in person meetings, so Wesley moved back to an online format.
As a Board member I miss our in-person board meetings which in recent years had started with us sharing a meal. I miss visiting with our students at Wesley Wednesdays at Great Harvest Bread and chatting with our interns at board meetings. Our students miss seeing each other in person too. I even miss driving the St. James van once or twice a semester and hearing students talk about their classes and campus life.
It has been said that “when God closes a door, He opens a window.” That phrase is not found in the Bible although Noah did have a window on the Ark after the door closed. Hammerstein used it in one of my favorite musicals “The Sound of Music,” and others like Alexander Graham Bell and Helen Keller were known to use a similar version. In this pandemic in which restrictions have closed the door on many activities, we have had to find the windows of opportunity in our daily lives. This semester for Greenville Wesley was no different. Wesley Wednesdays moved back on Zoom where Jeremy, his wife Rachel and their adorable children continued doing an awesome job of leading worship with our interns Tannre and Nolan. Bible Study moved to Zoom as well.
Knowing that our students as well as our board miss the one on one contact, a board discussion led to the formation of Holy Friendships for those students and board members who were interested in participating. Participants were encouraged to determine what activities were within their comfort level whether talking on the phone or texting to meeting for a meal or coffee. My Holy Friendship with a Wesley student has been a blessing to me, and I hope a blessing to her as well. We have had breakfast together a couple of times, being careful to socially distance, and we text back and forth every week or so to catch up, check in and arrange another get together. I look forward to my time with my new friend. I encourage students, board members and alums to participate as it has been a way to keep our connections with our students since we cannot gather as a group.
Friendsgiving has always been an important part of the fall semesters as students joined for a meal the week before Thanksgiving. This year students interested in participating were paired with a board member. The board member could provide a gift card, drop off a meal or arrange to share a meal with the student with whom they were paired based on their comfort level. I was blessed to have a delicious lunch with a very hard-working young man and hear about his semester and plans for the winter break.
For the next two months most of our students will be at home although some will remain in Greenville due to jobs. I plan to keep checking in and cultivating my Holy Friendship and reaching out to other students as well. Please pray for our students during this time. If you are so led and have not already done so, donate to Wesley or better yet become one of the Wesley 100 who make monthly gifts.
Wishing all our students, board members, alums and especially Jeremy and family a blessed holiday season,
Sara Beth Fulford Rhodes, Secretary, Greenville Wesley Board of Directors