Westminster College, Cambridge; Walking the way into the future

These are exciting times full of new opportunities for all of us. Here at Westminster College, Cambridge, as we look to further develop our role as a Resource Centre for Learning, we’ve created the new role of Director of Church Resource Development – and here I am! We want Westminster to offer relevant courses for today’s church here at the college and be available to work alongside you, sharing the love of Christ where you are.

As part of our commitment to embracing different ways of expressing faith we’ve recently opened our beautiful Art Studio, located in the college grounds here in Cambridge, beside the Prayer Labyrinth, which adds a creative space for quiet reflection or safe messy area for getting the paints out and having fun! Faith is expressed in many different ways and we are looking to provide the space and opportunities for you to explore.


Our new additions complement our freshly refurbished building, stunning chapel, wonderful meeting spaces and great hospitality at prices that may pleasantly surprise you. We can cater for groups great and small from hosting church weekends, URC Synod events, small committee away days or simply a guided retreat week. We have an excellent chance for deep reflection and personal study called “In the Company Of” (you can read more about that at our website) ideal for a quiet reading week or as part of a ministerial sabbatical.

Alongside our full and part time students training for ministry we run numerous courses, such as Quiet Days, themed Biblical conferences, residential Lay Preacher weeks and can provide some exciting interfaith conversations all aimed at feeding and building faith and resourcing people for service and ministry. We are working on some all age events for 2018 and our teaching staff can be found at churches up and down the country, sharing their knowledge and experiences in a variety of ways. We’re seeking to build a resource area on our website for anyone to access which we envisage will host a selection of worship resources. And of course, if you call or email us, we offer reduced B&B rates for Church members if you’d simply like to visit Cambridge!

As we look to further develop our role as a Resource Centre for Learning for the United Reformed Church we are aiming to offer new and varied opportunities for everyone. I would welcome the chance to have a conversation with you to discuss how Westminster might play its part in serving you, your churches and the Synods.

You can reach me, Revd Peter Ball, on pb694@cam.ac.uk or call our Reception team on 01223 33 06 30.

Guest Blog: Being a student – a reflection

Matthew Rigden, one of our first year students, has kindly shared the below reflection piece with us;

When I first heard God’s call to ministry, I had no idea what I was getting myself – or rather, what He was getting me – into. Now, almost two years after I made the tentative moves towards application, and despite having finished my first academic year as a ministry student, I’m not sure I can say with certainty that I’m any the wiser!  The joy of answering God’s call to proclaim Christ’s gospel remains, but that initial excitement which accompanies any foray into new territory has been replaced by a realisation of the work to be done both academically and spiritually as questions abound not only about my future ministry but also about the direction of the United Reformed Church as we profess to follow to Christ.

There have, of course, been challenges. The United Reformed Church has a range of theological positions pulling its membership in different directions, threatening to cause the same division and strife which has characterised the worldwide church (often with good cause) over the centuries. As the training college where the students spend the most time together in community, Westminster is an intense microcosm of the breadth of the wider URC. And because theological beliefs form the foundation of our discipleship to Jesus, and as our discipleship is the most important factor in who we are, it is unsurprising that this sometimes causes friction within the Christian community here. Theology matters and therefore, like all things which matter, it cannot be ignored. However, some of the best conversations I’ve had this year were been with those who have widely different theological positions or worship styles. But don’t be fooled into thinking I’m promoting a diversity of theologies as a good thing in itself. Doctrinal claims about what was and what was not the case mattered to Jesus and to the early Church, so it should matter to us too. So it is much more important for me to learn what we have in common with one another despite our theological differences. For Christians, that answer will always be Jesus who we follow and adore as our closest friend and, at the same time, our ultimate King.

At a time when Jesus’ Church is often accused of being divisive and divided, it is good to see Christian unity being lived out in the Westminster community. That is not the same as being unprincipled in our individual beliefs, but about being driven by one theological commitment which, regardless of our positions, we all share: to follow Jesus and to treat one another with love. Have I got that right all the time?  Not at all!  Yet it has been good for my own formation to learn patience and kindness towards those with whom I might profoundly disagree. After all, if our Father has sought me even when my life was against Him (Romans 5), how I can refuse to share that same grace with others?

 

End of Term Valediction and Summer Fete


As we approach the end of the academic year, we say goodbye to our leavers and enjoy a Valediction service and Dinner.  There will be a service in the chapel followed by a wonderful meal prepared by our excellent kitchen team, certificates will be issued to leavers and speeches will be given.  It is a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the next, when we welcome new students who will be joining us.  We give thanks to those leavers who join ministry and wish them well for the future. We also thank all of our attendees for being so good in coming back to us as quickly as you all did!

 

The following day we will be enjoying our staff and community family friendly event.  This year is based on a village fete theme and we will even have our own bake off.  The categories will be under 12’s and adult bakers.  We look forward to seeing all those budding Mary Berry and Paul Hollywoods!

 

 

 

News Announcement: Appointment of Director of Studies in Church History and Doctrine

Following interviews which took place in April, Westminster College are delighted to announce the the appointment of Revd Dr Robert Pope to succeed Revd Dr John Bradbury as Director of Studies in Church History and Doctrine. Robert is currently Reader in Theology and Joint Head of School at the University of Wales. Our Principal, Rev Neil Thorogood, says;

“We are deeply grateful for everything John Bradbury has contributed to Westminster College, The Cambridge Theological Federation and the wider church, and we wish him well for future ministry, and whilst we are sorry to see him go, we are excited to welcome Robert and look forward to all Robert will bring when he joins us this Summer.”

National Assessment

From today through to Sunday 26th March, we welcome all those who are taking part in the Spring National Assessment Conference for the United Reformed Church.

The conference forms an important part of the process in discerning who is being called to ministry and what their needs might be to support them in that journey. We invite you to join us in thinking of and praying for each of them.

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.

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!