New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College Fostering Community From a Distance

Many families on the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary campus have created chalk drawings with encouraging messages on sidewalks near their residences.
Photo by Tara Dew

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — Safety and academic success were the top concerns addressed in the initial response of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College to the COVID-19 pandemic. Soon, maintaining community connections and spiritual health from a distance became a priority.

After initial hope that the alternative delivery methods would be temporary, state and local officials began calling for stricter social distancing measures. As a result, NOBTS and Leavell College leaders began looking for ways to foster community and growth while maintaining physical separation. Students and faculty members have responded with their own grassroots efforts to maintain connections.

Daily updates from Dew

The most vital connection point for the seminary family has been the daily video update featuring NOBTS/Leavell College president Jamie Dew. Dew has been recording and posting the updates every weekday for the campus community since March 16. In addition to providing vital information for students, faculty and staff, Dew has used the videos to encourage the NOBTS family with scripture readings and devotions.

In recent days, the videos have addressed emergency financial needs of students, job search information and tips for maintaining emotional and spiritual health during this time of isolation. Dew and his wife Tara also posted an update with ways to help families cope with the challenges of COVID-19. For less campus-specific updates and encouragement, Dew is posting new episodes on his “Towel and Basin” podcast.

Community from a distance

With the stay-at-home order in New Orleans extended until at least April 30, additional campus connection efforts have developed — both official and grassroots.

The Student Life Office and the cafeteria launched the idea of a “social distancing picnic” on March 26. The cafeteria cooked hamburgers and the student life staff created a safe “grab-and-go” distribution method. Families were encouraged to pick up their food, return to their residential area and eat their picnic in the green spaces near their apartments while maintaining a safe physical distance from others. Faculty families enjoyed their picnics in their front yards. The picnic gave seminary families much-needed opportunities to chat with others while staying safe. On April 2, the cafeteria and student life offered the seminary’s famous red beans and rice as a takeout meal and encouraged the seminary family to eat outside again.

Click here to read more.
Source: Baptist Press