Staff party!

Every January we host a very special party to say thank you to the support staff for the work they do, day in, day out over the year. 2017 was no exception and the theme this year was Hollywood Glitz’n’Glam.

We’ve included a few shots of the building before our party goers arrived (of our red carpet, stars and amazing cake!) and we’ll add a few more on a fresh post after the night.

The Senior Management, Senatus, Management Committee and Board of Governors want to express a HUGE thank you to every member of the team for all their hard work in 2017. Have a blast people!

 

Thoughts From My First Academic Term

Westminster College Gates at Entrances

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.

Robert Pope

Deck The Halls With Boughs Of Holly!

The Westminster tree has been put up and decorated, with the help of staff and students – one or two braving the step ladder and scaffolding. Christmas music was playing and mince pies were flowing, and it was a great way to join in and have some fun ahead of the end of term.

The Advent service and dinner took place at the end of term with a wonderful menu prepared by our exceptional kitchen staff, who never cease to amaze us with their excellent food.  We thank them all for the hard work in producing the dinner, and the support staff who served it. We are truly blessed with an amazingly professional team.

The College will be closed over the Christmas and New Year period from 23rd December and will re-open on Tuesday 2nd January 2018 for bed and breakfast guests. Students will return shortly afterward, with intensives week commencing 8th January and Federation term starting on Thursday 18th January.

We would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and New Year!  Until 2018…

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.

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.”

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.”

Thinking ahead and welcoming good friends.

June at Westminster College welcomes back for the 9th year our friends from the Round Church | Christian Heritage for their 2017 Summer School.

We are delighted to host their Theology and Apologetics courses with a special theme this year to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

David Illman, Director of Round Church Study Centre, has recently shared an insight into our valued relationship.

Round Church | Christian Heritage, Cambridge has been running summer schools at Westminster College for the past 8 years. We have certainly appreciated the overall environment that matches our distinct organisational ethos: learning in intimate fellowship with instructors who embody what they teach and students who walk away enriched. Westminster has gone beyond the call of duty whenever particular requests are made, with grace promptitude. But what sets apart Westminster is not only the ideal location in Cambridge for our annual events or even making the facilities conducive to our needs, but it’s the relational value and integrity the college staff maintains in order to make the week enjoyable. That’s why we keep returning!’

For more information on the Round Church, their courses and a fantastic place of interest in Cambridge, please visit their website.

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.