World Humanitarian Day

On Sunday, 19th August, we’ll be remembering the UN’s World Humanitarian Day.


Their key theme this year is #NotATarget, reflecting upon the appalling reality that frequently a host of the most vulnerable become targets in armed conflicts around the world. Sometimes people most involved in bringing aid and help to those suffering amidst conflict are, themselves, the targets. The UN are highlighting the ways in which children (girls especially) and women, civilians,  aid workers, displaced people and refugees, journalists, medical workers, schools, ambulances and hospitals are targeted so often and with such deadly consequences.

They are showing us evil.

At a time when we are caught up in the rise of many forces that drag us towards the politics and culture of an increasingly isolationist, my-country-first vision of the world, it’s vital that we affirm a very different story of who we are, where we come from, and where we wish to go. The world’s great faiths have, at our best, consistently affirmed the infinite worth of human life and the need to especially protect and support the vulnerable and those at most risk in our world. As I’ve thought about the UN’s call and read some of the stories they have gathered of those on the world’s front lines I’ve turned to other words as well. In his book The Dignity of Difference, former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes:

“One of the most important distinctions I have learned in the course of reflection on Jewish history is the difference between optimism and hope. Optimism is the belief that things will get better. Hope is the faith that, together, we can make things better. Optimism is a passive virtue, hope an active one… Hope is the knowledge that we can choose; that we can learn from our mistakes and act differently next time; that history is not what Joseph Heller called it, a ‘trashbag of random coincidences blown open by the wind’, but a long, slow journey to redemption, whatever the digressions and false turns along the way.”

I think the UN rests upon a great deal of hope. I think the current state of the world requires a very great deal of hope to feed and fuel and foster our actions so that we turn away from the twilight that labels others as collatoral damage and into the bright sunlight of the love for one another that is God’s gift to us. In another Jew, Jesus the rabbi in Galilee, I believe that God’s profound hope took human flesh and lived amongst us. The attacks the UN are highlighting in their campaign turn precious children of God, which I believe everyone is, into pawns in games of power and ideology waged by some to benefit a few. The Bible tells first the Jewish story and then the Christian story of what God says into such contexts. When Jesus was asked to sum up life in all its fullness, life obedient to the will of God, he reached back deep into his Jewish tradition and scripture and found the summary that still stands today as test and possibility:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind… You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

That’s the text I want to hold in my heart, and carry through in my living and supporting, as I honour those the UN is honouring, remember those the UN is remembering, and encourage those the UN is encouraging. Evil doesn’t speak the last word, ever.

-Neil Thorogood, Principal

 

Anglia Ruskin University appoints Revd Canon Dr Andrew Todd as Senior Lecturer and Director of the Professional Doctorate in Pratical Theology

The Cambridge Theological Federation is delighted to confirm that Reverend Dr Andrew Todd has been appointed to take up the Anglia Ruskin University post that falls vacant upon Zoe’s retirement.


Andrew Todd is currently co-coordinator of the Centre for Contemporary Spirituality, Sarum College in Salisbury.

Previously Director of the Cardiff Centre for Chaplaincy Studies (and an Honorary Research Fellow of Cardiff University), he is a practical theologian and ethnographer, who has been published widely in the chaplaincy studies field.  Earlier in his career, Andrew was Vice-Principal and Director of Studies for the East Anglican Ministerial Training Course (now ERMC), and was also President of the Cambridge Theological Federation 2000-2001.

This post will draw significantly on his research in practical theology and the sociology of contemporary religion and spirituality. He is looking forward to working with doctoral students as they develop as practical theologians in interaction with their professional practice; and to the privilege of nurturing students in their research and in skills of critical and creative theological reflection. Andrew’s appointment to this role represents an opportunity, not only to develop his work in practical theology, but also to return to East Anglia and be nearer to his family.

His new post comes at the same time as one for his wife Catherine, which will also be based in East Anglia.


Publications: John Caperon, Andrew Todd & James Walters (eds.) A Christian Theology of Chaplaincy (Jessica Kingsley, 2017); Chris Swift, Mark Cobb and Andrew Todd (eds.), A Handbook of Chaplaincy Studies (Ashgate, 2015); Jonathan Prye, Peter Sedgewick and Andrew Todd (eds.), Critical Care: Delivering Spiritual Care in Healthcare Contexts (Jessica Kingsley, 2015); Andrew Todd (ed.), Military Chaplaincy in Contention: Chaplains, Churches, and the Morality of Conflict (Ashgate, 2013).

 

 

Valediction- Goodbye “God be with You”

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.

A wonderful evening enjoyed by all.

Congratulations, and well done to: 

Those who will continue on in to the Ministry of the Word and Sacraments:

Ted & Cristina

Jo & Bernard

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

Stephanie, Ron & Bronnie

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. 

 

 

Studying at Westminster in short is, fantastic!


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