Published 10:07 am Tuesday, March 2, 2021

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High schools offer some great clubs for students. There is FBLA for business, FFA for agriculture, HOSA for health occupations and, my personal favorite, DECA for marketing students. I sponsored the DECA club every year I taught school. It was a great opportunity to connect with the students in a deeper, more meaningful way.

Doug Creamer writes a religion column for the SNAP.

I can’t remember all the different fundraisers we did, but we sold about everything you can imagine. I sold a lot of candy. I also sponsored a number of fashion shows. Some of the shows were for spring, summer and prom. Some shows were exclusively for prom. One year, one of the girls wore a wedding gown to end the show.

I took the students on many trips through the years. We went to the Women’s Show, Spring Show, radio stations, TV stations, newspapers and sports arenas. Early in my career I took a group of students to New York City. I do not think my students realized how nervous I was taking them up there.

I went to the International DECA Conference a number of times in my career. I will never forget what wonderful experiences they were for my students. I will also never forget the students and the great fun we had on those trips. I have some hilarious stories that I have told through the years.

The big story every year was going to the state DECA conference. All DECA members attend the district level of competition. From there I usually took six to 12 students to the state competition. It’s a three-day conference where you are up against students from across the state. It was always a great experience and something I looked forward to as a teacher. The students took tests, completed role plays and wrote papers in competition to go to the International Conference. Many of my students had never stayed in a hotel before, so it was a fun adventure.

For over 10 years I have worked with the election process, where the students elect their state officers for the next year. Last year we got the conference in right before COVID. I figured the conference was out this year. Then I discovered they were having a virtual conference. It is amazing that they figured out how to hold the conference without having to get together.

Right from my living room I hosted a committee meeting. A group of students interviewed the various officer candidates. The committee members and the candidates did an outstanding job. It went super smoothly over Zoom. If the whole conference goes as smoothly as my part, DECA will have a great 2021 state conference.

While I would prefer meeting and seeing the students in person, I liked how things worked out. It’s hard facing restrictions on gathering together. While things are always better when you can get together, we have to figure new ways to do things.

I think the same thing applies to church. My pastor is passionate about discovering ways that we can safely gather together. We need fellowship. We need each other if we hope to persevere through these trying times. Since this pandemic began and the meeting restrictions have been put into place, he has encouraged and challenged us to find ways to stay connected.

I attended our church service online for a while, and it is good to hear from my pastor what God is saying to our congregation. But it is still not the same as gathering together. We need to be able to encourage and challenge each other to stay true to our faith. We have limited gatherings at my church now, and I am so glad to be back in the house of God again. We do so much to keep our people safe, but everyone has to do their part or we could lose the opportunity to gather together. There are three simple things that we are requested to do: wash our hands, social distance and wear a mask. Sadly, people around the globe resist, and the virus continues to spread.

I want to encourage you to determine how you can safely gather with fellow believers. Can you join a Zoom meeting and connect? Can you connect by phone, email, social media or Facetime? Soon the weather will break and we can gather in some way outside. We need the human connection, that word of encouragement, knowing we are standing together and that we aren’t alone.

Gather by phone, Zoom, through the computer and at church when yours is open. We need each other now more than ever.

Contact Doug Creamer at PO Box 777, Faith, NC 28041 or