I write to you again in context of the Coronavirus pandemic to bring words of direction and update. To call the circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus highly fluid is still inadequate to accurately reflect how dramatically things are changing.
By the minute, organizations and institutions are making changes in light of the following: the spread of the Coronavirus, the directives of governmental authorities, and the best practices in both higher education and from health professionals.
As an Executive Cabinet, we continue to monitor the situation closely and seek to give leadership that is Biblically wise, pastorally sensitive, contractually and legally responsible, and sensitive to both institutional and personal needs. To that end, I am making the following announcements, which will be effective Friday, March 13:
- Beginning Monday, classes and seminars for the duration of the spring semester are moving to online (Canvas) delivery.
- Beginning Monday, we are canceling all official campus events through the end of April. This includes but is not limited to lectures, seminars, and chapels through the end of April.
- Informal community interaction can continue as normal. However, we recommend gatherings of people be held outside, when possible.
- We are permitting students to remain in campus housing, including the dormitory. Given the nature of dormitory life, students living in the dorm may elect to go home. In the event a student elects to go home, we will credit room and board to their account at a pro-rated amount for the Fall semester.
- The cafeteria will maintain regular meal-service. This includes warm meals, as served now, but they will be provided in to-go containers.
- The common areas of the Mathena Student Center will remain open, with the exception of key carded facilities (rec and fitness facilities).
- Graduation will occur as scheduled unless we provide further guidance. This will be the next scheduled seminary event.
- Given the difficulty with cleaning books, the library will be closed for individual access. The staff will be accessible via phone and email and will assist students in accessing resources.
- Employees will continue to report to work as normal. For additional details, be in conversation with your supervisor.
- We are also rapidly expanding our student advising work to minister, inform, and guide students.
- We are hereby canceling all non-essential institutional travel. We are actively evaluating the feasibility of travel related to degree programs and essential institution activities. For example, we are following the lead of the IMB in determining how best to handle FUSION summer deployments.
- We will be proactive in managing the 2019-20 budget and will seek to steward funds in light of new needs and ministry opportunities presented to us. Where questions around budget management arise, please continue to monitor expenses closely and speak with budget managers.
I’ve been reminded anew in recent days that the most powerful human emotion truly is fear. The advance of the Coronavirus, coupled with a host of economic factors, have moved many in our society into a state of panic. While we want to be appropriately responsive and pastoral, I want to assure you that institutionally we are in a strong position to respond to these challenges.
First of all, as a Christian community we continue to trust in our Sovereign God and His kind providence over all of our affairs. Second, as a Christian institution, we are committed to respond to our students and employees in pastorally sensitive ways. Therefore, as you have concerns or needs, please convey those to your professors and/or supervisors. Third, in recent years the seminary has adopted a very conservative financial model. The result is that we approach this challenge in a strong financial position. While such crises are often a cause for financial concerns at institutions like ours, at this juncture we anticipate continuing our work as planned.
As I have stated previously, the situation has continued to evolve very rapidly. Therefore, do make sure you give careful attention to www.mbts.edu/coronavirus. We will continue to update the FAQ sheet as well. If you have questions or concerns you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. For general questions pertaining to the twelve announcements above, please reach out to your professor, supervisor, or resident assistant as needed.
Thank you so much for all that you mean to Midwestern Seminary. As I’ve said many times, Karen and I believe Midwestern Seminary is our lives’ calling. We have planted roots to be here for decades to come. That sense of commitment we feel to Midwestern Seminary and the clarity that we have in God’s calling on our lives give us a deep, personal affection for this seminary community. If you are reading this letter, you are well within the scope of our personal care,affection, and prayers. Know that we love you in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are committed to you and the institution during this season of challenge, and we are confident in Christ and His goodness in our lives in this season ahead.