Guest Blog: Being a mum at Westminster College

Magalie Cooper, our Bursar, has kindly shared the below piece with us;

How do you do it? 
There they were, my polished brand new shoes, my new dress with my name badge on.  Everything ready on a Sunday evening to return to work the following day…and I was so restless.  I was like a kid returning excitingly to school to see their friends after the long summer break…

But it wasn’t a summer break…

It wasn’t school…

And sadly I was no longer a kid…

It was November 2014 and I was returning from maternity leave, only three months after giving birth to my beautiful boy, Noah and just before the rush of Christmas parties; 90 days that had changed everything. I had changed, my priorities had changed and my team-mates would need to adapt to the new ME! But this wasn’t going to break me. I was determined this was going to be the making of me, as I realised whilst being away from the College that I was getting so much more than just a wage. I had indeed missed the College terribly.  Firstly, I missed the people with whom I work every day as we have a bond in Westminster, sharing the same drive to make or keep this place a special place for everyone who steps foot in it. Secondly, I missed the stimulation I get from my work, resolving issues, finding new opportunities and reacting to daily challenges! Finally, I missed the building.  Beautiful stones that mean so much more than just a shell, it is a safe place where you can be, just the way you are… Who can say they go to work, have prayers in the morning, chat with students at coffee time about feminism and serve dinner for 100 young and very hungry Chinese students? Me, me and me!

I am part of a wonderful organisation where my employer asks me what I can do, rather than why can’t I do it. Everyone knows Noah, Maisie and Ollie. I get asked frequently for news, even the General Secretary of the URC asked after Noah on his last visit to the College. I also get tips from my fellow mums or just get a sympathetic hug when the night has been interrupted by his night terrors. If Noah goes to the doctor one day, the following day people genuinely ask me how he is now. Thanks to the incredible support I got from the Senatus team, the Management Committee and the Board of Governors, I have managed to grow in my role and have blossomed both at home and at work. I was entrusted with more responsibility in June 2015 and despite being sometimes challenged with time to attend to all my engagements, I have managed to seize all the opportunities offered to me, the team or the college because I care, because I am fully-equipped to do my job well thanks to adequate training and professional network.

So when many people looks dubious when I say that I am a mum and step-mum to three beautiful kids, ranging from 2½ to 17 years old, that I am also a part-time student for the Open University and I work full time in a managerial position. They then ask me how I can possibly do all of this?  Well I respond rather smugly, that I have found the magic recipe:

1. I have a pretty amazing husband who is extremely supportive of my personal development and completely devoted to our family, despite him as well working full-time. We work as a team!

2. I am part of an extra-ordinary team who is committed, passionate and caring – One team, one purpose!

3. I work for an employer, the United Reformed Church, who genuinely care about their employees and takes its impact on society very seriously, putting people first rather than revenue, (we’re living wage foundation accredited). Here at Westminster, we apply the same level of care, understanding and professionalism.

So to all my colleagues who are mums or mums-to-be at Westminster College, I would like to wish you a Happy Mothers’ Day and see you on Monday to hear all about it with a cuppa’!

From a very happy mum at Westminster College

For further information about working at Westminster College, visit out Vacancies page.
Further information about studying at Westminster College , staying at Westminster or having a special event or conference check our website out.

Guest Blog: Called to Risk by Grace

Alex Clare-Young, one of our students and an ardent blogger, has kindly shared the below piece with us;

As a second year student at Westminster College, I am starting to explore my faith and calling in new ways. In particular, I am getting back in touch with my artistic side! You will be able to tell from the image that I am sharing with you that I am no professional artist. Faith and vocation, however, sometimes just can’t be explained in words alone.

This picture was inspired by my classmate Stephen, as he shared words about calling with us as part of his assessed service. What is it really like, then, to find ourselves here? Well, I can’t answer for everyone, but this is what it is like for me.

I am invited to unending change. Ministers are called to grow and to learn for life. The Church grows and learns and changes and shifts, particularly in our post-post-modern (???) age! Formation and ministry are not static. Change overflows!

My lips, heart and mind are set on fire and I am called to take this flame to others. I read Scripture and wonder what it is like to be touched on the lips by a burning coal, or to see a bush that burns but is not consumed, or to be refined like a precious metal. It all sounds a bit extreme… But it is what formation feels like. I am constantly challenged, burnished, polished, melted, passionately on fire for what I believe in. We are burned but not consumed, and we must not hide the flames.

Like all Christians, in fact like all people, I am welcomed, pardoned, cleansed, promised transformation. Both in this community and by the grace of God I am welcomed as the whole truth of who I.  I am pardoned when I mess up, say something stupid, offend someone, misunderstand the gospel or cause separation instead of inspiring wholeness.

I am invited to proclaim a dangerous, maverick, radical message that has cost many their lives and has the power to break down walls. And I am called to do this whatever the risk.

I am called in You and You in me. In all of this change, fire, welcome, promise, truth and brokenness God meets us and we meet God.

So what is it like to be here? Does this blog clarify anything? Probably not. It is indescribable. What I want to leave you with, though, is this: I am privileged to be called, I am privileged to be here but… but God does not call me to speak from my places of privilege but out of my places of oppression and for and with all those who have been marginalised. Thanks be to God.

Could you be eligible for a Sabbatical Stay at Westminster?

The Cheshunt Foundation is pleased to annouce that there is sabbatical space available for Easter Term 2017.
If this is something of interest to you then please do take a look at the Cheshunt Foundation on our website and, should you wish to apply, please email the tutorial office or call on 01223 33 06 49 in the first instance. Priority is normally given to those engaged in active ministry in the churches listed below.

• The Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion
• The Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches
• The United Reformed Church
• Unaffiliated Congregational Churches

This would be a wonderful opportunity for anyone seeking a space for private study.

Quiet day reminder – Saturday 4th March

We still have some places available on our quiet day for the 4th March.

Quiet days are suitable for everyone, whether new or experienced at retreats. With a different theme and lead by different people each time, we hope there is something on offer for you. On the 4th March we explore ‘Who are You?’…A day away in Lent.

Suitable for new and experienced retreatants, this day will focus on our identity as Christians, drawing on the wilderness experience of Christ and the writings of the desert fathers and mothers. There will be times of guided reflection as well as private time and silence. The day will begin with worship and includes a two course lunch and this retreat isn’t a silent one. This retreat is being led by Mark Argent and Sam White.

To book, please complete the Booking Form and return to Claudia on admin@westminster.cam.ac.uk, or by post to Tutorial Office, Westminster College, Cambridge, CB3 0AA. If you’ve any queries don’t hesitate to call our Tutorial Office on 01223 33 06 32 for more information.

We hope to see you there!

If this one isn’t for you, you can see our other events on our Events Page.

 

 

New plaque commemorates Westminster’s refurbishment

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve got a new brass plaque at Westminster! It commemorates our refurbishment and renovation project, which was completed in 2014, and thanks all the individuals, congregations, Synods, the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, and other donors who made the refurbishment possible. It’s in the Entrance Hall, in pride of place next to the plaque marking the opening of Westminster College in Cambridge in 1899.

On the table below the plaque lies a bible and a book of our student photographs dating back to the 1880s. Above them all is a stained glass window showing the burning bush, the symbol of the Presbyterian Church of England; and the coats of arms of Mrs Gibson and Mrs Lewis, the twin sisters who were our most generous benefactors when the college was built. There’s even a tiny hare – namesake of the architect, Henry Hare.

Come and admire our new addition to the College, and see how some of the key strands in the history of Westminster are brought together here!

Charcoal Gospel DVD Launch

We are excited to announce that our Principal, Neil Thorogood, will be launching his DVD ‘Charcoal Gospel’ on Wednesday 22nd February at Westminster College. All Cambridge Theological Federation members are welcome to join us from 5pm-6pm. Refreshments will be available throughout.

Neil will be giving a short introduction to his work, there will be the chance to view the original art work, and you will be able to purchase the DVD for £9.99.

If you are unable to make it to the launch, the DVD is also available to purchase from the URC Shop and from Reception at Westminster.

Our Art Studio – in use already!

We’re delighted to say that our Art Studio was completed last week and is already being put to good use with the arrival of our Cambridge Theological Federation Colleagues, the Eastern Region Ministerial Course. They will be working from the Art Studio until they move to their new accommodation in our Bounds development later in the year.

  

Their Principal, Alexander Jensen, was happy to pause from the unpacking and settling in to take a couple of photos for us, and said they were delighted with their accommodation, excited to be part of the campus and are looking forward to a close working relationship.

Their arrival marks another important part in the life of Westminster as our Campus increases in size and diversity and we’re excited to have them with us.

A day of preparation for Lent – Saturday 18th February

Happy New Year to you all from Westminster College.

This month is a time when people often purchase their diary for the New Year. Looking ahead to 2017, we will be holding a day of preparation for Lent on Saturday 18th February and welcome you all to book now while the date is fresh in your minds.

The day will aim to equip and prepare worship during Lent with will be led by members of  our Westminster teaching staff.

The day will include a two course lunch and time for reflection with others.

Please feel free to read more about the day on our Upcoming Events page

We look forward to welcoming you to start 2017.