Prayer and Worship

Worship is at the heart of life at Westminster and praying, engaging creatively with scripture, wide-ranging conversations about faith and spirituality, and respectful space for reflection, are all part of the ethos of the environment.


Imagine a place of learning where ancient Christian traditions and wisdom meet contemporary questions to inspire faithfulness today and tomorrow. Imagine a home for the training of our ministers that is as much a home for anyone in the United Reformed Church wanting refreshment, retreat and space to reflect and grow. Imagine a beautiful and historic building in the heart of Cambridge refreshed and renewed with facilities for relaxation and learning fit for new decades of service. Imagine a campus of hospitality that is home to several exciting partners within the Cambridge Theological Federation sharing the opportunities for encounters this home gives us. Imagine visitors from across the world sharing a welcome together.

Welcome to Westminster, where imagination inspires faith and living.

For students, sabbaticals, visiting scholars and teaching staff there is a varied pattern of services to mark the academic year. These include a service of Holy Communion at the beginning and end of each term and worship that recognises the Christian festivals, such as Advent and Passiontide. Being part of the Cambridge Theological Federation there are a variety of ecumenical services and some interfaith acts of worship to attend. These include worship for Holocaust Memorial day, a breakfast Eucharist for Ash Wednesday and an outdoor celebration for Ascension Day. For many of the Westminster community, sung services at Kings College or St John’s College are a part of their spiritual journey. Many classes begin with a prayer and all of our learning is offered to God. Work and worship, as is typical of the Reformed way, are one.

For conferences, committees and groups meeting at Westminster specially devised worship may be held in the Chapel, or in spaces such as adapted meeting rooms. The college labyrinth and landscaped grounds provide additional space for individual or corporate prayer, and the close proximity to the river Cam and college “backs” ensure there are other beautiful locations for prayer and retreat too which are beyond the college boundaries.

For those looking for a break from the pressures of life or who are searching for inspiration and creative connections with spirituality, there is space for rest and relaxation. Organised day events such as Westminster Quiet Days and the opportunity for spiritual direction or guided Bible reading are increasingly being made available.

The Chapel


The college chapel provides a place for individual prayer and silence as well as being a gathering place for regular services and occasional acts of worship. The college building and grounds offer the opportunity for seclusion or community engagement and as a day visitor or residential guest there are many opportunities to experience God.

For those studyingstaying, or working at Westminster the regular rhythm includes morning prayers and a simple lunchtime office with Grace being said in the middle of lunch.

The Art Studio


God’s gifts to everyone include those of imagination and creativity. Music has long been central to college life, worship and theological reflection, and has played important roles in the Reformed tradition and congregational worship. Words matter hugely to us in their ability to voice deep emotion, to touch our souls and to express our theology. Now the making of all sorts of visual art and engaging with the visual can sit alongside these other forms of expression and theology.

The studio, formally opened and dedicated on 8th June 2017, is being used for our events, courses and teaching. But it will also be available to guests spending time at Westminster on retreat or study to explore the creative and imaginative dimensions of your own pilgrimage with God.

The Prayer Labyrinth


The Westminster prayer labyrinth is a Classical (aka Cretan or Seven-path) circuit comprising 161 stones. Unusually this labyrinth is followed by walking on the stones with the grass providing the “walls”.

Designed by the current Principal, Neil Thorogood, it was placed in 2014 and is set at the rear of the college in the hub of the emerging Westminster Campus. This intersection between the working life of the Cambridge Theological FederationThe Woolf Institute, the Westminster sabbatical cottages and college domestic area, is surrounded by mature trees and shrubs, offering a space for stillness and “reorientation of the heart” in the busy-ness of life.

Admission to the labyrinth is via the main college entrance. Please go to reception, you will then be directed through the college to the back lawn. A guidance leaflet, Westminster College Prayer Labyrinth, is available for visitors in the college Lodge.

 

Labyrinth’s: A Brief History
The labyrinth design appears along the Bronze Age shores of the Mediterranean, most famously amongst the Minoans and Mycenaeans on Crete.

Roman mosaics used the imagery. The first evidence of Christian adoption of the labyrinth comes from the basilica at Al-Asnam, Algeria, dated to 324 AD. Perhaps the most famous example was built into the nave in Chartres Cathedral in the 13th century. Labyrinths were walked by Christians to celebrate Easter’s journey from death to resurrection. They could symbolise the pilgrim’s journey and offer a focus for prayerful reflection upon the travelling to and the returning home from a place of pilgrimage. Possibly this heritage mutated into the puzzle maze during the Renaissance. The 1980s saw several modern labyrinths built into churches and cathedrals as the ancient traditions were revived. A huge resurgence in interest was prompted by the creation of a replica of the Chartres labyrinth in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, in 1991. Now they are found, newly created, across the world. They can be on the grandest of scales, both inside and outdoors, or as temporary as paths mowed into a lawn.

Many companies now offer portable labyrinths printed on fabric.

There is a portable oak labyrinth permanently available for use in the college chapel.

Westminster’s outdoor labyrinth is registered on The Labyrinth Society website.

Links
www.labyrinthos.net (photos, archived articles, resources)
www.labyrinthsociety.org (international network for enthusiasts with much useful advice and content)
www.gracecathedral.com (see Veriditas which is based at Grace Cathedral and provides a wide range of resources and advice to encourage the development of labyrinths and ministry with them)
www.pilgrimpaths.co.uk (a range of resources including mobile labyrinths as well as retreat days and workshops to encourage their use amongst all ages)