Westminster College introduces….

Peter Ball has arrived and has been very busy since taking up his post in August. He’s sharing the below with all of our readers;

I am delighted to have the opportunity to introduce both myself and the exciting opportunities that Westminster College will be offering during 2018.

I came into post as Director of Church Resource Development at the start of August. This is a new post created by the college to help us take the next step of developing our role as a Resource Centre for Learning for all the people of God. Whilst playing my part in the life of the college as a member of the teaching staff I have also been given time to develop our work of resourcing and offering training/equipping opportunities for lay people. In the medium to long term I am hoping that there will be a development of our web resources and that along with the other RCLs, Training Officers and Mission Enablers we can have strong links across the Synods in both the development and delivery of courses and resources.

For now here are the highlights of what is already planned at Westminster for 2018.

Eldership on the Frontline
A chance to be refreshed and resourced for the important role Elders play in the URC. As the tasks and role change along with society you will be given the chance to think about what this means for you and your church and to hear stories and experiences that will get you thinking and sharing together.
Monday 19th – Wednesday 21st March 2018
Friday  6th – Sunday 8th July 2018
Wednesday 11th – Friday 13th July 2018

Living the Life of Jesus through our worship
For Lay Preachers and Worship leaders in 2018 we are offering a mix of Bible study, worship and reflection alongside of some practical ideas on how we bring alive the life of Jesus for today’s worshippers. There will be a variety of session leaders and styles all looking to provide you with the tools and new insights for your important ministries.
Monday 13th – Friday 15th August 2018
Wednesday 15th – Friday 17th August 2018
Wednesday 5th – Friday 7th September 2018
Friday 7th – Sunday 9th September 2018

Draw Breath and reflect upon
In the busyness of life we all need the opportunity to step back and spend time in the company of God reflecting upon life, our faith and what God is calling us to. Each of these days will have a different emphasis allowing a variety of approaches that make the most of Westminster’s stunning buildings and facilities. For our March date we will be focusing on Aspects of the cross. If you think you would like to take longer than a day with us why not consider our “In the Company of” initiative that allows for some guided reflection.
Saturday 24th March 2018
Saturday 11th August 2018
Saturday 3rd November 2018

NEW for 2018

It’s Advent!! Now what?
Join us and spend twenty four hours being resourced for the month ahead. This event is for ministers, lay preachers, worship leaders and anybody who wants to think afresh about Advent and Christmas.
Monday 3rd – Tuesday 4th December 2018

Alongside of these highlighted events Westminster also offers space for personal or group activities. We can cater for Synod activities, Spring and Summer Schools, Committee meetings, Church Away Days and personal reading and study times. We can also provide sabbatical opportunities.

We are excited to have our new Art Studio open to all URC members on request or exclusively booked for an event.

For further information contact:
Tutorial Office: 01223 330649 / admin@westminster.cam.ac.uk
Conference & Events Office: 01223 330647 / events@westminster.cam.ac.uk

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.

News Announcement: Vacancy for Tutor in New Testament Language, Literature and Theology

We are now seeking to appoint a new Tutor in New Testament Language, Literature and Theology.

An amazing opportunity awaits the right person! We are looking for a creative and enthusiastic teacher to join the core staff team of Westminster. You will deliver New Testament courses across the range of awards we teach with three of Britain’s premier universities. You will equip, encourage and teach lay people across the United Reformed Church in their many ministries in the Church and the world. You will tutor and support candidates at Westminster preparing for ordination in the United Reformed Church. You will be committed to one of the most diverse ecumenical theological education contexts in the world. You will be open to the adventure of faith as God leads Westminster into a new chapter. Are you the person God is calling and we are seeking?

For more information please visit our Vacancy page or download the application pack.

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?

 

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.”

News Announcement: Appointment of Director of Church Resource Development

Following interviews which took place from 24th to 25th April, Westminster College is delighted to announce that we have appointed Rev Peter Ball, currently Training and Development Officer of the URC Churches Eastern Synod, to be the first ever Director of Church Resource Development at Westminster College, Cambridge.  Our Principal, Rev Neil Thorogood, says;

“We are delighted to have been able to create this exciting new post to develop Westminster’s work with the wider Church and local congregations.  Peter Ball is well suited to this task and brings many gifts and much experience that we value, and we look forward to welcoming him to Westminster and to working with him in the years to come.”

Interview time…

Thursday 6th and Friday 7th April see us holding interviews for the Director of Studies in Church History and Doctrine.

As many of you will be aware, Revd Dr John Bradbury has accepted a call to be the new minister at Emmanuel, Duxford and Whittlesford URC. He has served at Westminster College and the Cambridge Theological Federation for almost 10 years and will be sorely missed when he vacates his position here at Westminster later in the summer.

We are therefore seeking a new member of teaching staff to fill his role as and the Director of Studies in Church History and Doctrine. The candidates arrived yesterday afternoon and have joined with the community here until later today.

Please hold John, the candidates, and the interview panel in your thoughts and prayers as we seek to discern Gods will.

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: 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.