Add staff during a pandemic?

central area team

Do you remember your first day at work at a new job?  Joining IV staff is a little different than the first staff meeting at your workplace.  I first met the team I am currently on much like my two new team-mates met our team this week.  Via Zoom call.  I was actually working for a church at the time and still in the interview process with IV.  In fact I was sitting in the office pictured in the previous post!  What did my future team-mates think of me?  What does a video conference call do for first impressions?  I’m of the opinion that zoom does nothing positive for your appearance.  Can I get an amen?  I’m afraid its even worse during a pandemic (Covid-hair is nothing to write home about, let’s face it).

Just yesterday the GFM Central Team had its first meeting that included two new staff members!  Linda and Josh, you have made our grid complete.  A perfect 3X3!  If you recall I’ve been searching for new staff at Washington University in St. Louis since last fall.  It was important to find a candidate who would be a good fit for Wash-U.  I had no idea that two such people would pop up on my radar!  Both very much insiders to GFM, and to Wash-U!  I knew of Josh Ho because of his involvement in the Graduate Student Fellowship there for several years.  But I had a much more indirect path finding Linda Tuch.

Linda was very involved in GFM ministry in the Boston area while getting her masters and PhD (Environmental Sciences and Engineering – Harvard).  She met her husband during those years in Boston.  Andrew took a teaching position at Washington University which eventually brought Linda to St. Louis.  Linda’s former staff member while at Harvard is now the national director for Faculty Ministries.  She helped me connect with Linda and explore what a volunteer staff role could look like for her on our team.

The second new person to our team is Josh Ho – a recent Wash-U grad student himself.  Josh’s grad work was in Developmental Biology.  He’s hoping to work as a patents scientist and is prepping for the patent bar exam.  He’ll be in the St. Louis area for the foreseeable future and has also applied and been accepted for a volunteer staff role working alongside Linda at Wash-U.  Josh and Linda are both a terrific fit for graduate student ministry.  George Stulac is our staff member working with faculty at Washington University.  With these three staff Wash-U is positioned well.   And the Central Area team really does seem more complete with Linda and Josh.

Pray for our work these days with graduate and professional students in the the four state area!  The pandemic has made connecting with students a bigger challenge than ever.  Building community and accomplishing a mission together in the university is changing with every month of this new experience.  If you’re curious about how InterVarsity is moving forward check out our Ministering Online through COVID-19 page.

Consider joining InterVarsity for another one of it’s live nation-wide online gatherings this Friday night at 7:oopm central.  Details are at the link above.


Thanks so much for your ongoing prayers and gifts to my ministry!

Click here to be taken to Tim’s donations page.

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I miss tables.


The grid has replaced the conference table.  I remember one of the best things about my office where I used to work was my table.  I had a very nice office with so much room I could also have a small “conference” table in the middle.  I actually bought my own table and assembled it in my office.  It was the perfect space for a small team meeting or even a one on one supervisory conversation.  I loved making a fresh pot of coffee and serving it at my table (along with my agenda).  Those days are gone!  Covid has shut down what tables used to do for us!  At least for now.

Think of all those lonely tables in meeting spaces we used to occupy.  I loved classrooms full of tables and chairs full of people buzzing in conversation.  The conference room with wall to wall white boards (and a huge table in the middle).  Even a cavernous food court with tables everywhere.   No matter either if the tables happened to be those sickly white plastic ones with slightly wobbly legs.  Tables used to put people next to each other the way Zoom does now in rows of three stacked on each other like the Brady Bunch.  “Pull up a chair.” has now become “Would you mind muting while I’m talking?”

Until tables bring us back together, we’ll have to remember our gatherings with screen shots like these.  Here are a few of my favorite Zoom moments from the past month.

dissertation defense

I had never attended a Dissertation Defense.  I didn’t even know you could attend such an event.  Until my son, Aaron invited us to his.  The screen shot represents about a third of the people on the Zoom session.  Phillip Ansell is Aaron’s advisor and head of his dissertation committee.  Several other professors and grad students attended.  All our family got to be there.  Aaron presented for about an hour.  I was amazed!  I was also thankful that somewhere in my background I’d gotten an engineering degree myself (so I could half-way keep up with what was being said).

The committee left to go to a break-out room for a few minutes while we got to decompress with Aaron.  Poppy, Aaron’s 2 year old got to join him and see who all was in the zoom room.  In about 10 minutes the committee returned to announce that Aaron had passed (with no revisions as it would turn out).

dr ancel

It wasn’t quite the event it would have been were we able to be there in person, but just as much joy at watching Aaron get to the end of his last wind-tunnel!  At some point in the future with covid tamed and out of the way, our whole family will be able to be around a table together celebrating in person.

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