Baptist Collegiate Ministries adapts to meet safety protocols

Baptist Collegiate Ministries has operated on the Georgia State Downtown campus since the 1960s. Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

COVID-19 affected many student organizations on campus, leading to less student engagement and fewer event opportunities. Many organizations converted to online meetings and events. Though the Zoom meetings cannot compare to in-person ones, campus organizations still strive to increase student involvement. 

Since the 1960s, the Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) at Georgia State continues to allow students to get involved on campus. Specifically, they are reaching out to freshmen to help them meet new people during trying times.  

BCM has in-person events through the semester, such as a weekly worship service called “Ignite” on Tuesday nights, men and women’s nights on Thursday nights, Mr. BCM fundraising events, spring retreats and weekly Bible studies. 

BCM meets and hosts many of their events in the first Coca-Cola Bottling Company building on Edgewood Avenue, neighboring the University Lofts. Since the pandemic, BCM has adapted its meetings to meet safety protocols for COVID-19, requiring masks, social distancing and temperature checks

“We have a check-in system in case we need to do contact tracing, we are not having food served and we are limiting the amount of people in the building at one time,” Teresa Royall, a campus minister at BCM, said.

Along with in-person events, BCM also offers online events for students, including online Bible studies and live-streamed worship services on Facebook with virtual prayer groups afterward. 

BCM keeps up student engagement on campus by taking advantage of the switch to online and virtual learning. They switched from promoting their organization with paper flyers on campus to social media and email. 

They offer a Friendship Families program for international students to meet, get close with American families and share meals in their homes. They also allow international students to visit places outside of Atlanta.

Last semester, BCM made cards for the elderly community in assisted living. This semester they plan on making care bags for frontline workers in hospitals. 

In March, BCM is hosting a “Spring Break Mission Trip” at Camp Pinnacle in Clayton County, which will allow members to help prepare the camp for the upcoming summer. The past spring mission trip BCM hosted was in the Golden Isles, where they served the local community. Royall said that the BCM helps students feel more connected during the pandemic, offering friends and a community for those feeling lonely. 

“Many churches are not meeting in person yet, so our weekly worship gives a safe, in-person opportunity for students to worship together,” Royall said.

BCM will continue to serve students throughout the pandemic by offering them ways to not only grow relationally but to grow spiritually.