By: Sam Erickson
The words I have been using are “cautiously optimistic”. The Covid-19 pandemic has consumed the minds of the globe. Right here in Illinois, the number of cases is up to 138,540, and the death toll is 6,770 statewide. The state’s fourth phase of reopening was scheduled for Friday June 25. Restaurants, retail stores, gyms, and movie theaters are now reopened. Gatherings of less than fifty people are permitted under the new guidelines. Illinois along with the rest of the world will begin to put itself back together while adhering to social distancing and facemasks.
Here at Merge, there are many factors to consider. CDC guidelines, Governor Pritzker’s plan, Illinois State University’s protocols, and the strategy of the United Methodist Church and the IGRC. We know that the 2020 Fall semester will be one like no other. The obstacles of doing ministry in a Covid-19 world will challenge the dedicated students we have. Merge will always be well equipped to serve ISU’s campus no matter the circumstances. This pandemic has tested all of us. And I believe that humankind will come out of this stronger than ever.
When students return to Bloomington-Normal, Merge will be standing tall as an all-inclusive campus ministry. If a student is frustrated with virtual learning, Merge is here. If someone wishes to seek a new community, Merge is here. If you have questions about faith or your own beliefs, Merge is here. If Covid-19 has turned your world upside down, Merge is here.
Merge will follow the proper social distancing procedures to ensure students are safe and healthy. Merge will still be there for the college population of Bloomington-Normal. I am confident that this campus ministry that I love will stay the course and have a robust semester. As I enter my senior year at Illinois State, I hope to help Merge find new and innovative ways to fulfill our mission: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We are all in uncharted waters, but we are also in this together.