By Ava Dunwoody | Staff Writer
Bible studies and life groups have returned with the start of the school year, but they are no exception to the changes brought by the pandemic. The divide between forming close connections and being far apart has become a new challenge.
Baylor Greek and religious organizations offer Bible studies with ties to the university, and churches all around Waco host life groups off campus. Carlton junior Caroline Crocker is in a Bible study with Harris Creek Baptist Church and has she attended the group since her freshman year.
“I think some of the challenges that life groups are facing right now are because they are not meeting in person,” Crocker said. “It’s harder to have conversations with people, and it’s harder to connect with someone. Even the physical aspect of giving someone a hug or holding someone’s hand while you are praying for them is taken out.”
Crocker said her Bible study is going to begin meeting soon, and she is happy they have decided to get together in-person. She knows other groups who are struggling to decide how to begin the year.
“Some life groups aren’t even wanting to meet in person,” Crocker said, but when groups are meeting over a video chat, “it changes the dynamic drastically.”
Navasota senior Joleigh Pool is leading a Bible study at Highland Baptist Church this year. She said she had to think about what she wanted to do with her group, which includes students from freshmen to seniors.
“[COVID-19] puts a damper on things,” Pool said, “but just spreading the gospel and God’s love even in these times is so important to really keep people going.”
Pool’s Bible study is currently meeting in person. To follow regulations, she said their groups are “no larger than 10” and they enforce the facial coverings in addition to social distancing.
Even though it might look different this year, Pool said she is trying to “soak it all in” because it is her last semester before she graduates. Getting to lead a Bible study has been one of the ways she sees God working in her life despite the circumstances.
“It might not be the biggest things that [God] is being seen in,” Pools said, “but just the little, everyday things. He is just so present, making big moves even in this time of sadness and loss.”
Crocker said that she also sees God at work during this time. While she thinks Bible studies are always “important” because they provide “support both emotionally and spiritually,” she knows that community is needed now more than ever.
“I’m hoping that we still maintain those close friendships and find other ways to connect through this time,” Crocker said. “I think it will be a cool opportunity to love each other well through different aspects of what this COVID situation looks like and walk with each other through that.”