By Maggie Parker
I remember sitting in the admissions room at Agnes Scott College as I prepared to celebrate my graduation with a senior reception, not knowing that the graduation I was longing for would never come. I remember everyone being together and so proud of each other as we all looked forward to the next year ahead of us. None of us knew that the next year would bring with it the ripping away of such a ceremony that we had looked forward to and worked toward.
However, let me say that despite losing my graduation and having to cancel many trips that I looked forward to, my time at McAfee School of Theology has brought me such joy.
Just as I remember sitting in the admissions room for the last time at Agnes Scott, I also remember sitting in the Theology building at Mercer for the first time. I was surrounded by a group of 20 other scholarship students all of whom knew nothing about each other.
It was two months before the pandemic. What I didn’t know is that I would become such close friends with half of this group as we all started our first semester of graduate school in the middle of a pandemic.
In February, we were sharing stories over dinner on the rooftop of Ponce City Market followed by a stop at a local coffee shop. Fast forward five months and we were now all behind masks as we entered the theology building for the first time since its closure in March. As I was reading through so many different blog posts, I realized that many students had given up the opportunity to attend school in the fall because they did not want to face the uncertainty of going to school in a pandemic. Let me reiterate, I could not be more thankful for this community.
Despite the fact that we could not gather as we wish, there are still ways that we managed to support each other and stay connected. The school has hosted small group game days, including game nights on zoom, as well as the offering of coffee and hot chocolate during the days.
Times like these remind me of the importance of God’s number one commandment of love. Even in times where we cannot physically love each other, it is more important than ever that we exude love to our neighbors and friends. Individuals are hurting. Their loved ones are dying; people are losing their jobs; and many are constantly filled with fear of what is to come next.
Thankfully, with the continued prayers of our communities and God’s guidance, scientists have put together a vaccine, our first real hope in months. I hope that we can take responsibility for God’s command to love to those who need it most right now, just as the McAfee community has. In the end, God’s love will bring us through this as long as we continue to pray, support and love each other.
Maggie is currently pursuing her Master of Divinity degree with a spiritual care specialization at Mercer University in Atlanta, GA. She is the current Director of Youth Ministries at FPC Gainesville, GA and a CBF Leadership Scholar.