COVID-19 has been "the great disrupter" of 2020, but in some ways, the pandemic has united our two remote campuses more than ever before.

As a physical display of our ONE university’s shared fortitude amidst the unexpected events of this past year, the editorial team of the Arbor Light and Concordian (the official magazines of CUAA and CUW, respectively) made the decision to combine this year’s fall publication into one shared, special issue. An archive of our university’s response to a global pandemic, if you will.

Hearts Together began this week to arrive in the mailboxes of CUAA and CUW stakeholders alike. If you are a faculty, staff or current student reading this, please feel welcome to pick up your copy on campus or explore a digital version of the magazine here.

Hearts Together opening letter from the president

As I write the introduction to this edition of our university magazine, we are over a month into the fall semester. So far so good! By the time you have your copy in your hands, however, the situation could be changed completely. There have been many lessons since COVID-19 interrupted our lives and disrupted the world. Among the ones that we have learned over the last several months is that plans are apt to change. Thankfully, our theme verses for our two campuses this year offer encouragement. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!” (Hebrews 13:8) “In the world you will have tribulation,” Jesus said, “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

As I have grown older, I have discovered flexibility to be increasingly challenging. Touching my toes is not as easy as it once was. Standing on one foot with my eyes closed without bracing myself against a chair or wall is an exercise in futility. Colleges and universities have historically found it uneasy to bend very much. The reputation for the college campus was always that change happens at glacier pace. Even before the arrival of a global pandemic, however, the tectonic shifts in the world of higher education were being felt. Fortunately, Concordia has been nimbler than most of our peers. We have been fairly adept at flexing our flexibility muscle to meet the learning needs of students—whether traditional 18–22-year-olds, adult learners, students in graduate programs, or those seeking professional degrees. We have had good balance and have managed to extend our reach. The unwelcome arrival of COVID-19, however, put our ability to adjust quickly to the test.

The word “pivot” is often used to describe what has happened in response to the pandemic. Not unlike my inability to touch my toes, however, this description does not go far enough. Concordians have stretched themselves in ways that we would never have imagined to be necessary in order to reach the relatively good position in which we find ourselves today. More than a mere pivot, my colleagues have extended themselves heroically in order to continue our uncommon mission. In the pages that follow, you will have a sense of the ways in which Concordia and Concordians have responded with creativity and courage in these uncertain times. I am certainly proud of our faculty, staff, and students, and I commend them for their resilience.

It remains to be seen whether or not our plan to hold in-person instruction for the entire semester or school year comes to fruition. Certainly it will require us to stay flexible in order to reach our goals. We are hopeful that once we turn the corner from this annus horribilis into 2021 there will be a return of intercollegiate sports, music and drama performances, and all those activities and experiences that are typically enjoyed on campus.

Whatever awaits us, we are encouraged that our Lord Jesus walks beside us. The tests that we endure are ones designed to help us grow in faith and trust in Christ who loves us.

Although this, my last year as president of Concordia, may stretch me more than any other over 24 years in office, there is a benefit to getting older—retrospect! Looking back I know that our God who has been our help in ages past remains our hope for years to come. Be of good cheer, the love of God in Christ Jesus never changes.

Rev. Patrick T. Ferry, PhD


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