Zooming in on Campus Life
- June 9, 2021
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present educational challenges, Moody’s campus remains very much alive—with some differences, of course.
Along with a switch to holding chapel online (or in-person with masks and social distancing), most Practical Christian Ministry assignments are now exclusively remote, with many students tutoring on Zoom or serving on-campus student groups. Moody also created a PCM phone center, where students have made 10,000 calls to Moody alumni to encourage and pray for them—and sometimes receive encouragement themselves.
One student, Alicia Brooks, recounts a particularly meaningful conversation she had with 99-year-old Walter Almond ’49, who told her about his many years of ministry after graduating from Moody. Alicia, an Applied Linguistics major, says, “I walked away feeling grateful and blessed, with a desire to have the same kind of intimacy with Christ that was so clearly demonstrated to me.”
Another major change has been in social life, with COVID-19 restrictions limiting brother-sister floor events and making it a challenge to build relationships. “I think it forces us to be more intentional about forming community,” says Rachael Varnum, a fifth-year Music and Worship major.
In Fall 2020, Moody introduced the hybrid flexible (hyflex) model of education, which gives students the choice of attending classes in person or on Zoom. “We were able to accommodate all the students who wanted to be in Chicago and the students who had to be remote,” says Dr. Bryan O’Neal ’87, vice president and dean of Moody Bible Institute. The hyflex model also made it possible to finish the final week of classes remotely after a spike in on-campus COVID-19 cases in fall 2020.
While the hyflex model has enabled more people to attend Moody remotely, Rachael says she’s thankful for the small size of her classes, which allows her to attend in person most of the time.
A two-week J-term was another innovation Moody introduced this year. “The first decision was to delay our start dates to let as much of the cold and flu season pass as possible,” says Dr. O’Neal. J-term, held January 11–22, offered students an opportunity to use the extended break to earn extra credits.
Despite the changes to traditional aspects of campus life, the essential vision for Moody students hasn’t changed. “The world needs Moody graduates more than ever,” says Dr. O’Neal. “If students would grow deep in their relationship with the Scripture, with God, and with one another while they’re here, those three things are a foundation for decades of ministry going forward.”
In spite of the new challenges COVID-19 has brought to campus life, Rachael says, “I am really thankful to be at Moody, and I think that they have handled it well.” But she misses campus life pre-COVID. “I guess it more makes me value what I had before, and to be really grateful for that and to be hopeful that that will return.”