Following the success of recent in-person events like “Winter Wonderland” and “Studio Box” performances, Florida Southern College allows Beyond, its on-campus student ministry, to meet in person once again.
“I felt very excited but [also] very apprehensive, because it’s a big responsibility having an in-person event during a pandemic,” Beyond President Rachel Hagan said. “I want people to be as safe as possible […] but I knew the benefits would outweigh the risks and I trusted my team to take all the precautions that we can.”
The first in-person event took place on March 11, called “Bad Body Image,” and the discussion was led by Hagan. Services are held on Thursdays at 7 p.m. or 8 p.m., and can be attended either in-person at either time or virtually at 8 p.m. The in-person service is held on the grassy area between the Anne Pfeiffer and Polk Science buildings.
If attending in-person, students are asked to RSVP through Engage on the service time they are planning to attend. Beyond’s in-person events are only allowed a maximum of 25 people total in order to follow COVID-19 guidelines. Including the worship team and staff, this means a maximum of 18 students are allowed to attend Beyond’s events in-person.
“The transition has been pretty difficult,” Hagan said. “There’s already a lot of restrictions for student organizations that administration-run events don’t have to deal with, but the restrictions are even more intense since part of Beyond is singing and worshipping.”
The viewing area will have hula hoops set up that will each be 12 feet apart. After guest check-in at the designated table, students will be directed to go stand in a hula hoop. Guests are required to wear masks and all equipment will be sanitized before and after each performance.
“We have to make sure we keep careful track of who attends,” Hagan said. “We also do creative things like a QR code that takes you to a page with lyrics for the songs we sing.”
Services are structured to be all-inclusive and inviting, meaning that students are not pressured to worship a certain way.
After a few opening worship songs, one of the student speakers gives a 15 to 20 minute message. This speech is followed by more worship and the opportunity to speak and pray with student leaders privately, while also staying socially distanced.
“I really like the services because they’re specifically geared toward college students and run by college students, so the messages are relatable and I think it can be a little less intimidating for people who maybe aren’t so sure about the whole God thing,” Hagan said.
Students who are looking to get further involved are encouraged to attend the services on Thursdays and meet the staff.
They also offer students the chance to fill out a form on Engage called “Beyond and Brew,” which allows students to set up coffee, lunch or virtual meetings to get to know the Beyond staff better.
“I’m very thankful that we are allowed to meet in person because it makes a big difference in people feeling connected to each other and to God,” Hagan said.