October 10, 2021 : Brogan Campbell
Spiritual Deepening Happening Around MVNU
MVNU has started to progress its campus-wide ministries over the past few weeks. On Sept. 13, Campus Ministries kicked off its Spiritual Deepening Week with guest Rev. Kevin Jack as a weeklong speaker.
He gave a message about new creation to the student body that included a special Tuesday night worship service and message and a Wednesday night worship night with MVNU alumni Travis Porter who led worship.
The week after, CoSMO groups were starting back up on campus. These groups focus on impacting the community with Christ-like character. Some of these community events include visiting retirement homes, eating lunch with local school children and spending time with children and adults with developmental disabilities. Students can still sign up for these groups through Campus Ministries.
Starting on Sept. 29, life groups returned to MVNU’s campus. These life groups are student-led small groups that focus on building community and family through scripture and Christ. With the return of life groups, this means chapel will return to its regular Monday and Friday schedule with the Wednesday chapel time slot being used for life groups.
In Your Presence There is Fullness of Joy Psalm 16
September 26, 2021 Dr. Henry Spaulding MVNU President
There does not seem to be an abundance of good news these days. COVID, mask mandates, and conflict in every area of life abound. The persecution of Christians around the world is a sober reality. Yet it is into this world that you and I are called to serve the Lord. Christianity has never been easy. We should not expect it, and we do not see it. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). Our task as Christians is to show what hope looks like in a hopeless time. We all need to hear the word of the psalmist – in your presence there is fullness of joy.
Consider the psalmist: living in the shadow of the exile – living in a period of radical redefinition – a time when things have come unglued. What does it mean to be Israel on the other side of the exile? What does it mean to be a people of the covenant? The answer rings through the ages – O God…in you I take refuge…in your presence there is fullness of joy.
My mind goes to my father, who passed away a few years ago. He was a strong man who lived in assisted care, and while he was not rich, he had no financial concerns either. He was a good man who raised his family along with my mother in difficult times. He was like many people who sit in our churches – a man of faith who tried to live it every day. When he entered a room, few people would notice. After all, he wore polyester pants, Walmart shirts and had an old cracked wallet. A symbol of a life lived in the presence of the fullness of joy. He had pictures, scraps of paper and a few dollars, but most of all, he revealed the confidence that comes from knowing God. He carried the scars of a life that knew suffering, but he lived in the confidence of one who kept his eyes on the God who is our refuge.
All of us have read the Bible. We have learned the way of Christ. I hope that what we know has pointed us to a path and a life worth living, but most of what we have learned has given us the confidence we need to live in difficult times. Having taught theology for more than thirty years, I can tell you that faith is not really about theory – it is about confidence.
Isaiah, in a time much like that of the psalmist, writes, “Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (64:8). This is part of the deep faith affirmation of Isaiah and the psalmist. The image of God as the Potter and us as the clay is important because it expresses the confidence that God is the refuge and source of our confidence.
Our joy is borne out of knowing God. I am not talking about theoretical knowledge here. I am talking about the kind of knowledge that comes from the journey. This comes from being the clay in the Potter’s hand. The sort of knowledge that knows what God looks like in the midst of the tensions of life.
Our joy is formed by a sense of history. The scripture and Christian tradition are rich companions on our journey. The psalmist writes about “a godly heritage.” The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews affirms, “[w]e are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (12:1). One of the great insights of having a potter and being clay is that we can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who are part of our heritage and with those who talk with us now.
The psalmist walked in the midst of a rhythm of grace that guided our lives. Once upon a time, I owned a Tahoe. It was a mighty fine vehicle, but it got old and tired. What was once a source of great pride began to strand me on my way home. One day I was on my way home in Nashville, and I turned off the highway like every other day. A long line of cars each in turn going to the stop sign and making a right turn. I waited my turn, and just as I was turning, I felt a terrible jolt. I did not know what to think, and then I looked in the rearview mirror to see a Dodge Ram 3500. The driver had mistakenly taken it for a verb instead of a noun. I pulled to the side, and he jumped out of the truck and asked, “Why did you stop?” For a minute, I thought he was joking. I thought, “You have no sense of things.” Perhaps, you do not know how things fit together. There are times in life when I am not sure, either.
Our life finds joy in the fullness of God. Clearly, living a Christian life is never going to be easy. There will be a few dark nights lived at the shores of the abyss. There will be times that our imagination will keep us awake at night, but there can be joy in the midst of it all.
We need not give COVID our future. Be encouraged by the faithfulness of God in the days ahead. There is life even from behind a mask. Do not allow fear and anxiety to define your future. Hear the words of Charles Wesley,
Finish, then, Thy new creation;Pure and spotless let us be.Let us see Thy great salvation Perfectly restored in Thee; Changed from glory into glory, Til in heaven we take our place,‘Til we cast our crown before Thee, Lost in wonder, love, and praise.
Hear also the words of the psalmist, “You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (16:11). This is what I pray for you this academic year.
COVID-19 Measures Continuing on Campus
September 26, 2021 Allison Prouty
An uptick in students testing positive for the COVID-19 virus and being quarantined led to a mask requirement on the MVNU campus.
An email that read “Beginning today, Sept. 2, at 6 p.m., face masks will be required in all indoor public spaces, regardless of your vaccination status” was sent out during the first week of classes at MVNU. Before this, masks were not required and left up to the discretion of each person. However, as COVID-19 cases (particularly the Delta variant of the virus) were spiking across campus, this was a completely necessary measure to keep students on campus.
Tracy Waal, Vice President of Student Life, stresses the importance of everybody correctly wearing their masks, especially in highly populated areas on campus. When asked about the chapel being an area of concern for spreading COVID-19, Waal said that, “We know that friend groups are going to infect each other. It’s like if COVID is a fire, we are the wood. We know we’re able to handle a bunch of little campfires. When you bring all that wood together in one place, that’s where you risk spreading a lot.” Masks are required in the chapel and will be indefinitely until it is deemed safe to do so to prevent a super spread of COVID-19.
Of the cafeteria, Waal said that “We definitely need to be masked,” he said, “if we can mask in the serving area, that’s going to protect the servers, which we need to protect, to protect the semester.” Waal also says that masks are not required while students are sitting in the dining area; however, he links this back to the campfire analogy- students are with their friend groups while sitting, but the friend groups mix while in the serving area, meaning masks are needed to protect students and cafeteria staff.
Masks will be required on campus until it is determined that it is safe to do so. According to the Stay Informed COVID-19 information page on MVNU’s website, masks are hopefully a “temporary measure.” Waal said that there is no specific number of positive COVID-19 cases that they are looking for to remove masks, but it will depend on how COVID-19 is impacting the campus. “The cafeteria, at the beginning of the semester, at any university, is already on razor-thin labor margins. They have just enough students to open up the cafeteria, because they haven’t done all of their hiring yet. If COVID raced through the cafeteria and took out 20 people, and we had 20 COVIDs, that would put us at risk.” This situation would close the cafeteria, forcing MVNU to put all classes online. MVNU is looking to protect essential areas of campus by requiring masks. As positivity rates go down, MVNU will look at where COVID is in relation to how it impacts the daily life on campus.
Increased masking is something that some quarantined students appreciate. Macey Geog, a freshman, was placed in quarantine after one day in class. Geog said that, “I think that the mask mandate is OK, so less people have to go through quarantine! Having masks limits the amount of people exposed.” While having her first week of classes online was not something Geog ever wanted to experience, she does say that her professors worked with her and helped her stay caught up with her classes to keep her from falling behind.
Vaccines as a preventative measure against COVID-19 are somewhat of a controversial topic on campus, and the Sept. 7 Justice Talk helped to spark a conversation between students about COVID-19 vaccines. “We know that vaccinated people are protected at a different level [than unvaccinated people], they’re less likely to get it” said Waal. However, MVNU is not going to require students, faculty or staff members to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Waal said that many places, such as hospitals or other educational institutions, who have vaccine mandates are not necessarily requiring vaccines. Waal explained that “even those that have the vaccine mandate… they also say in the fine print ‘if you’re not vaccinated you need to test’ which is essentially where we are. We are not going to say you have to be vaccinated [against COVID-19] to come to MVNU.”
Not only is MVNU helping quarantined students academically, but Campus Ministries is also working to help students spiritually. Pastor Stephanie Lobdell says that the Campus Ministries office is notified of quarantined students, which allows Lobdell to reach out to those students. Quarantined students can still earn Spiritual Formation Credits; students watch the streamed chapel services on mvnu.tv and fill out a Google form for the Campus Ministries office so that they can still get their credits.
Lobdell also encourages all students to reach out if they need help. “You are not alone,” Lobdell said, “my heart is to be with students. So, if students need a person to talk to, I’m such a safe person. I’m not going to judge you… I want to receive you exactly where you are. If you are a person of faith, let’s come and talk about that. If not, let’s just talk about what you’re experiencing.”
COVID-19 cases, quarantines, PRC tests awaiting results, vaccination statistics and COVID-19 updates for the MVNU community can be found on https://www.mvnu.edu/stayinformed.
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Women’s Soccer Team: Eyes on Improvement
The MVNU women’s soccer team has begun a new era this year. After several of their starters graduated last year, Coach Sarah Maracani has eyes on improvement as the team plays this season. She said, “Expectations are always high like they are every year, but our main goal is to improve every single game.” Even though the season started with some tough road games against ranked teams, she is proud of the improvement that the team has had so far.
Senior Brookelynn Semmelroth stated, “We’ve been able to learn a lot from how we’ve played, so I think we’ve been able to hit that stride, so that we can be where we need to be to make it to nationals.”
Junior Centerback MacKenzie Thorne added, “There have been moments where it’s taken us a little time to get into our groove, but we’re working on it.” She also said, “I’m expecting us to work hard, go far and have a good time doing it!”
As the team heads into the conference season, the team is preparing for some competitive games, but they are ready for the challenge.
Maracani said, “Expectations are still high in the conference, even though it’s a very competitive league, which I think makes it a fun league, too.”
In addition to the improvement taking place on the field, Maracani loves the bond that the team has off the field. She stated, “The girls have done a really good job just collaborating, being together and supporting each other. That’s been the biggest thing we’ve really enjoyed so far. It’s definitely a fun group to be a part of, so hopefully that can continue to translate on the field with our team chemistry as well.”
Semmelroth added, “I’m looking forward to seeing how that bond (off the field) is going to translate on the field and how we are able to connect and how that shows in our play.”
Junior Ashley Townsend is focusing on enjoying every moment of the season, since she said that sometimes the fun part gets lost when playing competitive sports. She said, “We have a great program and a really great group of girls. It’s a fun atmosphere, and I’m excited for what’s ahead for us.” As the MVNU women’s soccer team continues to make strides toward their full potential, their bond with one another will continue to grow, which will guide them as they keep their eyes on a trip to nationals.
October 10, 2021 Mike Basko