Campus worship organizations adjust to pandemic reality 

Mercer%27s+Baptist+Collegiate+Ministries+chapter+meets+in+Newton+Chapel+Thursdays+at+8+p.m.

Image: Lars Lonnroth

Mercer’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries chapter meets in Newton Chapel Thursdays at 8 p.m.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected numerous aspects of Mercer’s campus life. Campus religious organizations have had to adjust as well.  

At a time when large gatherings must be held carefully, religious groups have had to change the way they hold worship. 

One of these groups includes Mercer’s Baptist Christian Ministries. They have made changes to their organization’s operations to account for COVID-19 guidelines. 

Payton Hodges, BCM’s president, said that the group has limited music during Thursday night worship.  

“We ask that everybody who comes on Thursday night doesn’t sing, because we know that that’s one of the health concerns that can cause COVID to spread more easily,” Hodges said.  

BCM meets in Newton Chapel, which normally has a capacity of 98 in normal times, and Hodges said that the group ensures that the meetings are kept under capacity. 

“We’re working around that, trying to figure out what’s the best way to continue to run as close to as normal as possible, while still being very conscientious about people,” Hodges said. 

Hodges said he wants BCM to be a place where students can be free from stress. 

“We don’t want to be seen to be a place where for our council members, it feels like a job or for regular attendees, an obligation,” Hodges said. “We wanted to be somewhere where you can come and relax and and be with your friends and be able to sort of shut that off.” 

BCM is currently planning a mission trip during spring break. Hodges said that the necessary accommodations for COVID-19 will be made. 

Mercer’s Reformed University Fellowship has also faced these challenges. 

During the spring semester, RUF was quick to offer a virtual option for students to attend over Zoom. This year, RUF has provided students with a social distanced and masked version of the traditional RUF events.

“I think the RUF ministry has adapted very well to the adverse conditions the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown everyone’s way,” Macee Palmer, a worship leader for RUF, said. 

RUF meets off-campus at First Presbyterian Church. Palmer said that in-person RUF worship has been beneficial, and that she appreciates the club’s attention to safety. 

“It’s really good to have RUF in-person while also protecting each other from the existing coronavirus,” Palmer said.