Every Thursday night, Ashley Forman grabs her Bible and heads out the door to worship with her friends in Soma for what she describes as some of the most authentic community she’s experienced all school year.
Forman is one of several students who participate in some sort of small group each week on campus. Some of those groups are official and sponsored by the chaplain’s office or the counseling center, while others have been organic and popped up out of what students say is their need to connect, pray with and be in community with people.
“There’s something so special about being able to do life with these people and see them every day. They’re like my family,” Foreman says.
College students face a unique set of challenges this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, one of the most isolating is the lack of opportunities to connect in community with their peers. In-person chapel gatherings being reduced in size and Trevecca students have found creative ways to foster spiritual community on campus through small groups.
“This year, small groups have become integral in student’s lives. There isn’t as much organized community because that’s really hard to do right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s absent. People miss community so much that they’re motivated to do something about it,” ASB Chaplain Kaitlyn Kleppinger said.
One of those students motivated to action is Cassidy Attig, a sophomore Music Business major. Attig, along with fellow student Emmitt Reed, started a Bible study with their friend group that meets on Monday nights at 9 p.m. in the President’s Dining Hall.
“A lot of our friends are musicians, so they bring their guitars and we have some worship and then lead a Bible study. Honestly, it gets really vulnerable and it’s been a great time. I’m a peer mentor and a lot of my freshmen were really upset that they couldn’t go hang out normally and they were struggling to find community. I think all of us just miss how it was, so we’re trying to find little moments where we can get as close as we can to that,” Attig said.
Jessie Rubio, the resident director for Redford Apartments, also sees the longing for community across campus.
“I definitely think people are missing community, and we’re trying to offer as much as we can, but nothing feels as community-oriented and intimate as being able to meet in person. Personally for me, this is the hardest year to build community that I’ve ever seen and I’ve been in higher-ed res-life for seven years now,” Rubio said.
Some of those opportunities the RAs are offering students come in the form of residence hall Bible studies, a mentorship program for the Johnson Hall ladies and Benson Hall “Ten ‘Tils,” which consist of the Benson guys gathering in the lobby to pray every night at 10 minutes to 10.
“We would really encourage people to find community within their breezeways and their halls. I know before, everyone kind of just hung out with their people, but what’s really cool is God has placed those people on their halls and breezeways around them. We don’t usually reach out to those people because we already have our people, but right now everyone is getting to know the ones around them better because we’re not doing a ton of outside visitation,” Rubio said.