Chaplain’s Office Provides Online Spiritual Care, Support for Students

April 16, 2020 | Education | Kim Strobel

During spring quarter online classes, Walla Walla University chaplains were hard at work providing online spiritual care options. Campus chaplain Albert Handal answers a few questions about the available opportunities.

What is the primary goal in caring for students during online instruction?

AH: The WWU mission statement begins with the phrase, “Walla Walla University is a community … .” We’ve been working to provide spiritual care options that support a sense of community at a time when we can’t commune. Our focus is on creating connection and support while our students are spread out across the country.

How can students learn about options for spiritual care?

AH: Our primary methods of communicating with students are the chaplain’s office Instagram, a campuswide email I send each week and the web page www.wallawalla.edu/virtual-connections.

What concerns are you hearing from students?

AH: Most of the concerns I’m hearing from students are along the lines of “I miss my friends” or “my situation at home isn’t very good.” The challenges they face differ widely, and we’re working to support them in as many ways as possible.

What are a couple of options you would encourage students to join?

AH: On Wednesday nights and Friday nights we offer live broadcasts. Ty Gibson was on our broadcast the first Wednesday, and Alex Bryan on our first Friday night.

What words of encouragement would you offer during this challenging time?

AH: Jesus has been praying for us long before the coronavirus. In John 17 He said, “I pray that they might be one, even as You and I are one.” I feel hope that God will bring us together in new ways to still be the body of Christ in these moments of social distance and fear. Christ is Victor, even over virus.

Are chaplains available to talk with students who are feeling lonely, anxious or worried?

AH: Absolutely. Students can email us anytime or call our office.

What are you looking forward to when students are back on campus?

AH: I’m really looking forward to the sound of longboards on the sidewalk, having students over to my house again, the crowds walking through campus between classes. We miss our students and look forward to having them back with us soon.