Parent Newsletter - December, 2020

December 2020


Philip G. Ryken President Wheaton College IL

Dear Parents,

Wheaton’s fall semester typically ends with the short cold days and long dark nights of December, and the celebration of Advent with student musicians presenting the Christmas Festival that has become a beloved tradition. This year there is no in-person Christmas Festival. Most students have returned home to finish the semester, though a handful remain on campus. Edman Chapel is silent and empty, a symbol of what the global pandemic has cost our community.  

The anxiety that many have experienced this past year recalls the deep darkness people felt when Isaiah prophesied the coming of a Child to be named Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. One day that Prince picked up the Isaiah scroll at his local synagogue to announce the fulfillment of the prophecy in himself. Messiah Jesus came to offer us hope, healing, and spiritual salvation.

Please join us for the online Christmas Festival on Friday, December 18. You can register here, and watch the concert any time through the end of 2020. Our theme is relevant for 2020, or any other year: “Risen With Healing in His Wings.”

With gratitude and joy at Christmas,

Philip Ryken
Philip Ryken

Note of Thanks from Parent Engagement

Thank you to those who participated in the Thanks and Encouragement Project during the month of November. The notes of care and appreciation came at just the right time and gave students, faculty, staff, and administrators a needed boost going into the holidays and at the end of the semester. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Your words were just that!

Advent Reflections with Interim Chaplain Greg Waybright

For this Advent Season, hold onto, Isaiah 41:10The Lord declares, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.I will strengthen you. I will help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

When my daughter, Heather, a 2004 Wheaton grad, was 4 or 5 years old, my wife and I took her to visit Disneyland. We had been reading Kenneth Grahame’s book, The Wind in the Willows, so when we came to a ride based on that book, “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”, she insisted we go on it together. As soon as the ride began, with loud sounds and characters popping out from the dark, I suddenly had Heather clutching on to me so tightly that it felt like I had developed an added appendage. As short as the ride actually was, it seemed to last forever. All through it, I could hear Heather’s whimpers and feel her fear. But when we came out into the light, she looked at me and said with great enthusiasm, “Dad, we made it!”

Over these past 10 months, I’ve sometimes felt like my daughter felt during that wild Disneyland ride. So many things keep popping out at us to frighten us: a seemingly unending pandemic, unrelenting political discord, hurricanes, fires, and floods. In the midst of it all, Isaiah 41:10 has encouraged me in fresh and much needed ways. It was written just after God’s people were told they had to go into captivity because of their ongoing unfaithfulness to God (Isaiah 1-39). What they faced was worse than what we’re going through in 2020! Yet, everything changes beginning with Isaiah 40. What follows in the next 26 chapters is called Isaiah’s Book of Consolation. It is both beautiful and moving! What we read about is a hope grounded in the prophecies of a day coming when God will make all things right. What’s most beautiful is that our God does not give up on His people. Instead, he finds ways to deal with sin justly while he simultaneously offers a path toward forgiveness and restoration.

How could that be? It is because the Maker of heaven and earth is present in this world. He is actively at work in all things to bring about his good for his children (Romans 8:28) – indeed, for all creation. Numerous prophecies in Isaiah point to a Savior-Messiah i.e., to Jesus who was to inaugurate the Kingdom of God, one characterized by peace and justice.

Of course, we remember that Jesus has already been born. But we should also acknowledge that he has not yet finished his work. Our world is still broken. Our lives are still incomplete. Our minds are still confused and anxious. But we who believe in him always have hope for his promises to come again and complete what he has started. Until that work is done, we hold on to the promise of Immanuel, that God is with us.

The Sounds of Christmas

Tune in on Friday, December 18, 2020!

This year’s Christmas Festival, Risen with Healing in His Wings, will be accessible to all for free through our virtual premiere. To access the concert please register at The premiere will include performances by the Wheaton College Concert Choir, Men’s Glee Club, Women’s Chorale, Symphony Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble, and Harp Ensemble as well as a special performance by alumnus baritone Will Liverman ’10. 

Risen with healing in His Wings 2020 Christmas Festival Banner

Year-end Giving

As we come to the end of this unprecedented year, we reflect with thankful hearts for the gift of Jesus Christ and the everlasting hope we have through Him. We also thank God for your faithful prayers and your generosity to Wheaton College. Your support of the Wheaton Fund reaches far and wide, advancing the excellence and affordability of the Wheaton experience for every student. Please prayerfully consider joining the many faithful parents, alumni, and friends of the College with a gift to the Wheaton Fund. Your tax-deductible gift by December 31 is essential to our mission of equipping students to serve Christ and His Kingdom. Thank you for remembering Wheaton College in your year-end giving.

Campus Store News

Course materials are available to order for the Spring semester at Materials will gladly be shipped directly to students to support the remote learning start.

Updated Spring 2021 Semester Calendar

As we look forward to Spring 2021, please make note of the revised schedule. Classes for the spring semester start remotely on January 19. The College plans to announce move-in dates and the start of in-person instruction by January 8.  Although there will not be a traditional Spring Break week, we have scheduled four days off throughout the semester to provide additional rest for students. Additionally, we have established a college-wide Quiet Week, March 29-April 2, which coincides with Holy Week. Quiet Week will provide a pause on college events and a break from deadlines with no large assignments, papers, or exams due for students. 

Tuesday, January 19: First Day of Classes
Monday, February 15: President’s Day – Classes in Session
Tuesday, February 23: No Classes
Wednesday, March 10: No Classes
Friday, March 12: A Quad Ends
Monday - Friday, March 29 - April/2: Quiet Week – Classes in Session with no campus events, meetings, or large projects or exams due
Friday April 2: Good Friday – No Classes
Thursday, April 15 – No Classes
Friday, April 30: Last Day of Classes
Monday, May 3: Reading Day
Tuesday - Thursday, May 4-6: Finals

The Wheaton College offices will be closed December 24 through January 1 in celebration of our Savior’s birth. We are praying for you to experience the peace of Jesus’ presence, rest in the Father’s arms, and joy in this holiday season and in the year to come.

Five Years, Two Degrees

Did you know that your student can get both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in just five years at Wheaton? Download our e-book to learn more about the Accelerated M.A. program, and sign up for a virtual appointment with Graduate Admissions to find out how your student can save money, save time, and graduate with two degrees in five years.

Campus Housing

Thank you for trusting your student to us during these COVID times. Living in community and having in person relational connections is more important now than ever and we hope your student got a taste of that despite the masks and social distancing. Housing closed for the fall 2020 semester on Saturday, November 21.

Christmas Break Housing: College housing closes at noon on Friday, December 18 for those who were  approved to stay during the Remote Learning Session (November 21 - December 18). 

During Christmas Break the residence halls (Fischer, Smith-Traber and Upperclass Halls) are closed.

Even though housing shuts down for Christmas break, we recognize that some students need to stay on campus. With permission through the Residence Life Office, students may stay as guests in a campus apartment or house during Christmas Break for the following reasons:

- athletics
- students who live internationally
- campus employment
- class participation

Information on the approval process, deadlines and fees may be found on our website. 

Spring Semester Housing: The College will communicate when on-campus housing begins by January 8, 2021. Remote learning begins on Tuesday, January 19, 2021. The College will offer on-campus housing for students who were approved to stay during Christmas break. If a student needs on-campus housing during the remote learning session they will need to submit a request and receive approval from the housing committee.

Spring arrival information and COVID testing requirements will be emailed to students when the decisions are made. Visit the COVID FAQ page for the most up to date information.

Wheaton in Chicago

Following COVID-19 guidance from both the City of Chicago and Wheaton College, Wheaton in Chicago finished the semester strong with zero COVID-19 cases. Students completed internships remotely, in person, and in hybrid formats with organizations ranging from Lawndale Christian Health Center to Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives to Antero Group.  Wheaton in Chicago plans to welcome a new cohort next semester and continuing to explore just, sustainable and flourishing urban communities.

A Word with Admissions

Parents can influence the culture and community of Wheaton College simply by referring a potential student. Do you know a high school student who you think would be a great fit at Wheaton? We value your opinion and take every referral seriously. Thanks for helping shape the Wheaton Community!

How can you pray for Wheaton this month?

 Wishing you a Merry Christmas,

The Wheaton College Parent Engagement team


Blanchard with blue skies