Image from the new interactive “Practicing Faith” resource on the Pepperdine website.
Pepperdine students may be losing their on-campus experience this fall, but the Spiritual Life Office is making sure students don’t lose their spiritual experience.
In the Aug. 11
President’s Briefing, Vice President for Student Affairs Connie Horton announced that convocation will not be held for academic credit for the fall 2020 semester.
“Although convocation will not be for credit this fall, there will be numerous opportunities for spiritual formation and community,” Horton said.
Director of Convocation Gus Peterson and his team in the Spiritual Life Programs Office are working to spearhead many of those spiritual opportunities.
“The bandwidth that we otherwise would have used for administration of credits and whatnot can be bandwidth that we offer with greater intentionality toward student care in this online season,” Peterson said.
The Spiritual Life Programs Office plans to offer mentorship opportunities, small groups and worship gatherings for students.
“We now have nine curricula that have been developed by staff in our office that student leaders, faculty and staff leaders can use [for small groups], or those leaders can, of course, do their own programs,” Peterson said.
Students are not currently able to sign up for small groups or mentorships, but Peterson said more information will be provided to students in the upcoming weeks.
Worship gatherings will be held weekly, Peterson said. The gatherings will take place Thursday nights and feature the collaborative efforts of many student-led ministries and The Well. The new time of worship will be called “The Gathering” and will be hosted through Zoom.
The first meeting of “The Gathering” will take place Aug. 20 at 7 p.m.
Pepperdine will hold two larger worship events. The first event is Aug. 19 at 10 a.m., through Zoom. The Spiritual Life Office has yet to disclose the date for the second large worship event.
“One of my main goals is that by participating in mentorships, small groups and some of these worship experiences, [students] get to come into contact with the diversity of what the kingdom of God actually is and can be,” Peterson said.
Sara Barton, University chaplain, created a new online resource titled “Practicing Faith” on the Pepperdine website for students to grow spiritually. The platform enables students to engage with videos, recommended practices and reading materials created exclusively by faculty and staff for the community.
“All of the content is original,” Barton said. “It’s all written by, spoken by and led by Pepperdine people. So while there are lots of great online resources out there, this is for Pepperdine and curated for our community.”
Barton started creating the “Practicing Faith” resource before Pepperdine made the official decision to cancel all in-person instruction.
The formation of the platform began in response to a request from the Strauss Institute, Graziadio Business School and Graduate School of Education & Psychology to provide faith resources to students participating in online or off-campus programs. Barton said discussion surrounding the creation of the new resource began around nine months ago.
“With coronavirus, all of our students are online,” Barton said. “So I guess it was God’s timing in some ways. We were already working on it, we already had the funding for it, and the thing that I appreciate is that all the people who are featured in the videos came to campus during COVID to be taped. We did it safely outside and practiced all social distancing measures.”
The resource can now be accessed by the public through the Pepperdine website. Barton intends to update the website with new materials in the future.
“We have plans in the future to keep the platform updated so people can go back six months from now and find new videos and new resources,” Barton said.
Barton and Peterson encourage students to use these available resources and follow the Spiritual Life Programs Instagram account @peppspirituallife as a primary source for information concerning programming and spiritual life opportunities.
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