The National Presidents’ Leadership Conference traditionally concludes with a Saturday evening dinner banquet where the attendees participate in The Gift of Fellowship. The Gift of Fellowship is the final piece of the Lambda Sigma ritual when new members are initiated into the society. Presidents use the banquet at the conference as a time to celebrate the great things that are happening in their chapters and as a model of the ceremony they will implement to induct new members into their chapters in the spring. In planning the remote NPLC, the national board wanted to ensure that the Gift of Fellowship ceremony could still be presented for the attendees.
To allow a break from the screen time, the virtual ceremony was scheduled for Sunday evening following the NPLC. Because of the pandemic, several chapters had not been able to hold their local initiation ceremonies at the end of the spring semester as they normally would. This year instead of only including chapter presidents, the flexibility of the virtual format allowed entire chapters to join and use the national ceremony to initiate their new members. According to one of the ceremony organizers Becki Leonard, “We had 260 students initiated, with 18 chapters represented.” She went on to say, “I think this went really well for our first time attempting a virtual event! We normally gather just the Presidents to participate in this ritual, so it was really special to be able to share the experience with so many students from all over.”
While the presentation of the scripted material seemed easy enough to move online, two elements of the ceremony presented a bigger challenge. As part of the ceremony, the participants sign the bond book as a pledge to the purposes and goals of Lambda Sigma, and they pass a candlelight from one person to the next to represent the passing of responsibilities and friendship. The planning committee came up with creative solutions for these two elements of the virtual ceremony using an online bond and a slide show of the candlelight passing.
Ryan Upshaw also served on the planning committee and said, “The virtual Gift of Fellowship likely helped in the transition for many of our chapters.” It was nice to be able to provide this type of support to the chapters when there are so many new challenges presented by the pandemic. In the event that traditional, in-person initiation ceremonies are still not feasible in spring 2021, this virtual ceremony and the materials the committee developed can be used for chapters’ Gift of Fellowship ceremonies at the local level.
Here is the video of our Gift of Fellowship below. You can also view our Virtual Bond by CLICKING HERE: