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.

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.

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.

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!

Westminster and Windermere: Exploring Advent Retreat, 14-16th December

adventWe’re delighted to share that Neil Thorogood and Sam White will be travelling up to The Windermere Centre to lead the centre’s annual Advent retreat from 14th to 16th December.

We’re looking forward to delving into the Advent narrative through art and story-telling. You will have opportunities to reflect on Bible texts generating words and images to tell the story. Join us in a beautiful part of the world for friendship, worship and good food.

This is part of our on-going partnership in which The Windermere Centre deliver courses at Westminster and Westminster reciprocate.  As such, this event is being run on a Pay What You Can basis and rather than contacting Westminster to book, please visit The Windermere Centre website and explore the programme in more detail.

Westminster College commissions Dr Alison Gray

Alison Gray (L) with Neil Thorogood, Principal (R) 02/11/16
Alison Gray (L) with Neil Thorogood, Principal (R) 02/11/16

On the evening of Wednesday 2nd November the college community met together in chapel to welcome Dr Alison Gray as Director of Old Testament language, literature and theology. In a worship service led by Mr Alan Yates, United Reformed Church Moderator of General Assembly, Alison was affirmed and commissioned to the work she’s undertaking within the college, Cambridge Theological Federation, the University of Cambridge and the wider denomination. Alison is an experienced teacher and during the service she spoke movingly of her love for the Hebrew bible, for illuminating the scriptures, and of her continued desire to share new ways of exploring the richness of the Old Testament in developing the Christian faith.

Following a buffet reception enjoyed by Alison, her family members, close friends, colleagues and students, she said,

I feel honoured to be the first lay tutor to be appointed here, and am looking forward to the breadth of opportunities to serve the wider church as well as to attend to the work of formational training for ministry within the college. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be supported by friends and family and to have received such a warm welcome from the Westminster community.

 

 

 

Art Studio Update

Photos of the ongoing works

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The foundations are finally in….

Indeed the project is going very well. All very exciting to see now the floor print and how the studio is going to fit nicely next to the Prayer Labyrinth; and eventually into our community life.

More to follow…

Annual Commemoration of Benefactors – 29th October from 2.30pm

On Saturday 29th October are holding our Annual Commemoration of Benefactors from 2.30pm here at Westminster College in the Chapel.

We warmly invite you to attend.

The service starts at 2.30pm and is followed by afternoon tea at 3.30pm.

If you are able to join us, please contact Syd in the Tutorial Office to give your name and dietary requirements on admin@westminster.cam.ac.uk or on 01223 33 06 49 by 12 noon Monday 24th October.pixelr - DSC_7113

 

Welcome back!

We’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of our students (both new and returning); some of them are here already but most will arrive over the course of this week and next week.

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We’ve got the student hand-book available (which students can find online here, if you have the login details) and our list of community events is finalised; check out page 15 of the Student Handbook for more details.

The induction timetable is available from our excellent Tutorial Office team; both Syd and Claudia have been busily working behind the scenes to ensure everything is ready. It is always a busy time of year as everyone discovers what their timetable will be, what modules they are doing and what life is going to be shaped like for the coming months. We’re all looking forward to welcoming this essential part of our community back for 2016-2017. See you soon!