‘What is EU ministry supposed to look like?’, ‘What does it mean to be part of the EU?’, ‘How do we know that we’re on the right track?’
These are questions which come to mind as I begin to prepare for Semester 2, readying myself for another round of online learning, Zoom small groups, and postponed social plans. But as I reflect on my experience in the EU in its entirety, I wonder if I’ve actually always been asking myself those questions about the shape and nature of EU ministry; every time I invited a friend to a Public Meeting; every time I met up with my Howie; or every time I decided to register for AnCon. While there is no doubt that the impact of COVID-19 over the past two years has profoundly changed the EU experience, there is something special about the EU which makes me hopeful for Semester 2, which is this – the EU changes.
As a university student union, change is written into the DNA of the EU – students graduate (eventually), people go on exchange, timetables shuffle around, and leaders come and go. When I was in my third year of uni, I had an incredibly humbling conversation with a friend, when I realised that the transient nature of three/four-year degrees meant that even the most well-known and revered EU leaders are quickly forgotten after they graduated. It made me reassess the way I perceived service in the EU, in that I began to appreciate how many of the relationships, processes and accumulated wisdom which I now enjoy now are the result of many years of faithful servants, each building upon the work of those before them. While I miss many of the brothers and sisters I’ve served alongside over the years, I’m so excited to see students rise up and take their place; in fact, it is a testament to God’s grace that He continues to provide us with godly and committed Christian students who are eager to serve in the EU.
Another conversation comes to mind as I think about the way the EU has changed during my time as a student, when I was discussing AnCon with a second-year friend. I was expressing to her my sadness about this year’s AnCon going online again, telling her all the things I missed about in-person AnCon. To this she replied, “I’m sure it would’ve been better in person, but I’ve never actually known anything other than online AnCon – and last year’s was really good! I’m excited for AnCon again!” Her enthusiasm and her contentment in the present situation were both a sharp encouragement to me, as well a reminder that the EU adapts to best serve those who are in it! There may be value in holding onto the EU as it was in 2018, when I was in second year like my friend is now, but it ultimately seeks to edify and reach those who are in it now.
I know that EU ministry will be on the right track if it is rooted in God’s gospel, even if adaptations and changes will be inevitable over the next semester, and over the coming years.
As I think back on those opening questions, I recognise that Semester 2 brings with it a mix of emotions: excitement about meeting new students and enthusiasm coming off a fantastic AnCon, but also sadness about missing out on in-person ministry, and sense of melancholy nostalgia for the energetic early days of my EU involvement. However, I know that EU ministry will be on the right track if it is rooted in God’s gospel, even if adaptations and changes will be inevitable over the next semester, and over the coming years. We can confidently say that even though EU ministry may change in shape or form, it will always be about our glorious Saviour who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
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