The latest thoughts and reflections from our Principal at Westminster College
Goodbye to all.
As this academic year draws to a close, it is also time for us to say goodbye to many people who have been with us over the years.
On Friday 15th June, our annual evening of Valediction took place. We celebrated the hard work of students and teaching staff, who have worked tirelessly throughout the year bringing great results all round.
The night began with a service in the Chapel. Joyous hymns, readings of thanksgiving, and blessings to those continuing on in to the Ministry of the Word and Sacraments marked the end of the academic year for Westminster College.
Revd. Samantha White read a beautiful Sermon titled ‘A Firm Footing’, including the meaning of ‘goodbye’. According to the Cambridge English Dictionary the definition of Valediction is “the act of saying goodbye, especially formally, or a formal speech in which someone says goodbye”.
To be of firm footing, requires a keeping close to Christ. It is so easy, when times are busy, or there are decisions to be taken, or others expectations for you seem to cloud your judgment as you care for their needs, to give up the spiritual disciplines that help to underpin your faith and that have helped you to be resilient while you have been here.
‘So Valedictorians, ‘Goodbye, farewell, Auf Wedersein and Tuss’. ‘Goodbye’, is an adaptation of the phrase ‘God be by you’ and that is exactly what we wish for you.’
Following the service, we all joined together in a meal and celebrations when the successful students came to the stage to collect their leaving certificate. Followed on by several speeches to thank various members of staff and wishing farewell to Revd. Dr Yak-hwee Tan, tutoring New Testament studies for the past three years and Liz Cazwell, our Chaplain.
A special mention must go out to the amazing Tutorial team, who have worked consistently hard throughout the academic year to provide high quality support and assistance to the students and Senatus.
Last but by no means least, we cannot thank the Hospitality staff enough for their exquisite meal and attentive service throughout the evening. Thank you not only for this evening, but for the entire year where you provide us with only the best food and impeccable service, filling the needs of all who enter our community.
Congratulations, and well done to:
Those who will continue on in to the Ministry of the Word and Sacraments:
Ted & Cristina
Helen & Tessa
Alison & Paul
Josh & Gillian
Those who have successfully completed or who will soon complete their studies:
Jane , Jill & Lan
Those who have shared in Westminster’s community on sabbatical this year:
Iain & Peter
Allan, Terry & Karlotta
Doug & Barbara
Once again, congratulations to everyone for their successes over the year. We wish you all the best for your future endeavours.
From the 19th-21st January I was at the URC Youth Assembly running workshops and enjoying the opportunity to meet and share with a host of different people from across the denomination.
The first of the new Westminster College Draw Breath and Reflect Upon days took place on March 24th with the theme of Aspects of the cross. The day was a mixture of reflection, personal space and some input from the leaders of the day. Various options were offered to help people think about how then cross impacts on their daily lives and then space to develop thinking. The pictures are of one participants response in the form of a painting and a cross that we used as part of reflection in the afternoon.
“Studying at Westminster in short is, fantastic!
It is a rich and fascinating experience that has welcomed, celebrated and included me from the day I began. Walking with me as I grow in the journey of faith, whilst also enabling me to learn effectively by supporting my needs.
Studying scripture here has allowed me to work through why I believe what I do and how we are all able to discuss, evolve and change as part of a living tradition responding to a living word. Whilst on retreat together in January 2018, the community were reminded by our Principal, Neil Thorogood of our connection with many people of faith from the past, present and the future. Whilst reflecting on this I was reminded of the journey that has brought me to Westminster.
Before coming here, I was a store manager for WH Smith in a busy Hospital in East London, whilst also being a Church Elder and volunteer youth leader in the little ‘spare’ time I had. I have been able to bring all my life experiences with me sharing with others.
We learn with and from each other, day by day. With many opportunities to interact with peers from around the world. Whom represent diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
It is a blessing to be here!”
by Stephen Ansa-Addo – student, Westminster College
Latest thoughts from our Principal at Westminster College
Happy Easter All!
From us all at Westminster College
With Spring approaching it is time to get booked in for our March events at Westminster. Coming up is the first of this year’s Elders residential as we look at Eldership on the Frontline aimed at helping Elders be think about what it means to be leadership teams encountering both opportunity and challenge.
Then we have Draw Breath and Reflect upon the Cross coming up on March 24th, offering a chance to spend a day reflecting upon how the cross of Jesus affects our daily living. There will be opportunity to do this through worship, art, prayer, conversation and personal space and reflection. The choice will be yours.
Following on from these we have many more opportunities to come to Westminster over 2018 and experience one of our learning opportunities either for a day or longer stay. Some are conferences but there is also opportunity to come for guided personal space or simply to enjoy all that Westminster has to offer. You can view all of our 2018 events on our RCL Events page.
We look forward to welcoming you to Westminster!
We’ve been working hard on some new events and content for the 2018 programme of events for our URC members and church friends, and want to tell you about two which are fast approaching.
On Monday 19th to Wednesday 21st March, we’re focussing on Eldership on the Front Line.
As society is constantly changing there seem to be a whole variety of demands on people’s lives and time. The church seeks to be involved in the life of its community and to be a community of people who are welcoming and where people can safely seek answers to life’s big questions. Often it is the Eldership of a local church that finds itself on the frontline trying to keep the church active, offer pastoral care of members, quality worship and trying to ensure the mission of the church is relevant to the 21st century. Sounds familiar? Then the 2018 equipping Elders conference may be for you.
If you aren’t free on those dates, we’re running this at other times in the year too! For more information, including costs and content, visit our Upcoming RCL Events page. You can book by printing and completing the booking form (pdf), or alternatively contact Annmarie on firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01223 33 06 32, or get in touch by post to Tutorial Office, Westminster College, Cambridge, CB3 0AA.
If you need some time and space to Draw Breath and Reflect Upon: Aspects of the cross, we’re gathering on Saturday 24th March for the day.
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. 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.
If you aren’t free in March, we’re running some other days on different topics which might be of interest to you. For more information, including costs and content, visit our Upcoming RCL Events page. You can book by printing and completing the booking form (pdf), or alternatively contact Annmarie on email@example.com, call us on 01223 33 06 32, or get in touch by post to Tutorial Office, Westminster College, Cambridge, CB3 0AA.
We have a number of other dates and events planned, so if these don’t fit with your schedule, do visit and see if there might be something else you’d like to join us for. We look forward to welcoming you to Westminster soon!
I was born in Wales and, apart from one year studying ‘abroad’, I have lived all my life there. For twenty years, I worked in Welsh Universities (and have the scars to prove it!). The time came to look for a different challenge and for new opportunities and so I applied for the post of Director of Studies in Church History and Doctrine at Westminster, though I did not expect to be offered it. Having applied, and having been offered the job, what else could I do but accept, even if it meant relocating to the ‘wrong’ side of Offa’s Dyke?! Having been here a term, I can say that I am delighted to be at Westminster at this time.
I started work officially at Westminster on 1 September, having moved only two days previously. There was little time to settle in as the ‘Lay preachers’ arrived the following week. Thankfully this was not to be a baptism of fire! The event was a good reminder – if one is needed – of how blessed the United Reformed Church is by such committed, imaginative and insightful men and women of faith. I prepared some input on Luther (2017, after all, saw the five hundredth anniversary of Luther’s initial protest against the sale of Indulgences). Despite his strengths and weaknesses, Luther’s story reminds us that it is a rediscovery of the liberating power of the gospel which leads to church renewal (rather than the other way around). I also prepared input on a specific doctrine often associated with Reformed thought, namely the doctrine of Election. In fact, ‘Election’ and its significance for mission in the twenty-first century was the subject of the presentation required as part of the appointment process for this post. Perhaps surprisingly, it might well be worth revisiting some form of the doctrine (though probably not the form it takes in most people’s minds). While many in our churches might believe it to be irrelevant, in fact it points us to the Church’s role in God’s mission in a way that might well inspire us to be ‘missional disciples’.
Having trained at Westminster (in what seems a different age!), and having been back many times for conferences, for committee meetings and for study, it initially felt as if I were just visiting. The meeting, or the study, or whatever this was, would come to an end and I would return home to Wales. It was like an extended holiday! But then term started, and the holiday ended. The eight week term is hectic, especially in fitting the College activities around teaching. I know I was eased in to College life, and am grateful for that, though the Life and Service sessions were challenging and entertaining as we grappled together with different interpretations and understanding of the Reformed tradition.
My first term passed in getting to know people – Westminster staff and students as well as others in the Federation – and trying to understand how things work. In fairness, I can say that I have never known any place like Westminster. The staff are committed to making Westminster work, whether as Resource Centre for Learning, a conference facility or a bed and breakfast business while acknowledging the importance of each aspect of the College’s life. More than that, everyone is friendly, welcoming and helpful, with a feel of real and positive collegiality. The student community is diverse, but it has been a delight to get to know them, to be alongside them in the devotional life of the College and to learn from their spirituality. It feels good to be at Westminster at this time and I look forward to the challenges the next term will bring.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call our Reception team on 01223 33 06 30.