6 April 2020
Ahead of several religious holidays, university chaplain Rev. Melvyn Kelly shares thoughts and reflections on how the university can remain united.
"How are you finding these unusual days of working and studying at home?
If I am honest I am really missing the day to day, face to face contact with people on campus and without it I am feeling a little at sea.
I am using all kinds of digital technology to stay in touch with colleagues and family and you may be doing the same, but have you noticed how difficult it is to make eye contact with someone through a webcam?
As a Christian minister I am conscious that Easter is coming but this year will be unlike any Easter before. For Jewish friends Passover will not be the same, and for Muslim friends Ramadan will be unusual too; all religious festivals and observances will feel strange this year.
We shall not be able to gather with friends in our churches, synagogues, mosques, gurdwaras and so on. Worship and faith celebrations will have to take place only within our own households. It will be strange indeed! And yet, there is a Christian tradition that the church is still the church though it cannot gather together – for the church is the people. I’m sure that the same is true for any faith community – the community is not dissolved simply because we cannot gather together. And that, it seems to me, is an insight that applies to own university community too.
You may know that I am a champion of unity within the university’s rich, diverse community and many of you will have contributed to the unity canvases we created. It might be easy to believe that our unity has been dissolved because campuses are closed to us now.
But I want to urge you all to hold onto that sense of unity whilst we live through this time of enforced distancing. The university is still the university though we cannot inhabit the buildings in which we usually work and study. There is still a bond between us as members of the university community that relies on more than physical proximity. Hold on to that sense of unity, and use whatever means you can to encourage one another, to keep in touch with one another, to celebrate what still unites us.
I look forward with longing for the day when we can again meet face to face but in the meantime may I wish you all a happy (if somewhat strange) Easter."