Incoming students enjoy face-to-face fellowship

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By Sandy Irby
Director, Communities of Learning Program

The Richmond campus burst into life this summer as participants in Union Presbyterian Seminary’s (UPSem) annual Communities of Learning (CoL) program gathered for their greatly anticipated “Face-to-Face” (F2F) event.

After eight weeks of small-group, online study and discussion, students, faculty advisors, and alumni mentors gathered during a warm July weekend for the first time. Smiles aplenty marked this time of conversation and laughter, table fellowship, and worship among a very special community of old friends who had never met before.

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The F2F weekend is the culminating event of Communities of Learning—a program unique to UPSem and one that has met with resounding success since its introduction in 2011. Designed to ease the transition of newly admitted students into seminary academics and community life, CoL enfolds them into the UPSem family from the get-go—before classes even begin.

Along with faculty and alumni mentors, students from all three campuses follow an online curriculum that offers a foretaste of the academic readings and class discussions that await them in the fall.  CoL’s emphasis on the sharing of diverse perspectives encourages collaborative learning and, in the process, builds relationships and strengthens community.

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At the end of the F2F weekend, all departed with fond farewells— eager to meet again in the fall, to continue the conversation, to learn from one another, and to grow deeper in relationship with God and in community with one another. In this way, the CoL program sets the stage not only for seminary study, but also for future ministry for the church in the world.

See more photos!

To learn more about the program and/or to sign up as a new student or alumni mentor, please contact:
Sandy Irby, Director
Communities of Learning Program
(804) 278-4272 /

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