February 2021

Cedar Ridge Preserve

School is officially back in session and so is campus ministry! It has been sweet getting back into the swing of core and meeting up with students. Many interactions have been virtual lately due to the increase of COVID cases. I am so thankful that there are ways we can meet in person safely and virtually when that is not an option. Ministry would be much more difficult without the technology we have today. 

On a hike with Juli and Riannon

Due to COVID we rotate the people who can come to our weekly ministry-wide meetings (Deep Dive) with the service streamed to the rest of the community. It was my cores turn this past week and it was so special to get to come in person again. We also started our outdoor worship session that we are going to be doing every week before deep dive from now on. Worshipping as a church body is so vital and important. Every time I get a special chance to do it again safely I remember how sweet and filling the experience is. I am psyched we are going to be doing it every week this year!

Outdoor worship (we wore masks for extra safety)

For Deep Dive this semester we are continuing our series on Mark. It has been so cool to dig deep into Mark and encounter Jesus through this series. I think sometimes we can think the Gospels are basic but there is so much good stuff to write on our hearts through repetition. I also started two new FOJ studies this semester that I am so pumped about!

Deep Dive!

Over the past month I have been wrestling with my future and some decisions that lay before me. I've been in many conversations with God and his people about whether I should stay on staff or transition off once I get my Master's degree in Social Work in August. Campus ministry, specifically FOCUS, has been integral to my walk with God. I really believe in what God is doing on college campuses and I believe it is extremely strategic. I have been utterly blessed by this ministry as a student and staff person for the past 7 years. Over and over I have gotten to join in the work God is doing and watch him transform the lives of young adults. It is important and good work. I have also felt a pull for most of my life to care and advocate for those who are oppressed. It's why I got my Bachelors in Psychology and am now pursuing a Masters in Social Work. I believe this passion was given to me by God. College students are not usually oppressed or disenfranchised. The ability to go to college is a privilege. If I stayed on staff I wouldn't be able to use the part of my heart that hurts for those who are down and out. Both college ministry and social work are God honoring jobs and I feel that God has given me a choice. So I've decided to transition off of staff by the end of August. I am sad to leave UTA and the staff team and students I love deeply but I am so excited to get to use my passion for the disenfranchised in my career in social work. I hope to work in victim advocacy specifically and will start searching for jobs in the summer. I wanted to thank you again for supporting me over the past couple years. Your partnership in the Gospel has been such a blessing and has made this work possible. 

Many Blessings,

Emily Umstead


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