2ND ANNUAL SAM SHARPE LECTURES 1ST& 2ND OCTOBER 2013
This year the lecture will be held in Manchester Tuesday 1st October. Through the generosity of the Sam Sharpe Partners, we are able to make this lecture a FREE event, however registration is imperative to ensure a seat.
This year we are privileged to have Dr Neville Callam, General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA). Dr Callam is well known to many. He is a dynamic, thought provoking speaker. We are thrilled that he has agreed to carve so much time out of his busy schedule. To discover more about Dr Callam and the BWA, visit the website on http://www.bwanet.org/general-secretary-bio.
Ms Gale Richards will chair both lectures. Ms Richards is Project Development Worker with the Heart of England Baptist Association (HEBA), lecturer at the Northern Baptist Learning Community and leader for the Text and Stories Programme of the Sam Sharpe Project.
There will be an opportunity for Q&A and refreshments will be served at the end of the evening.
We look forward to welcoming you.
Revd. Dr. Clare McBeath and Revd. Glen Marshall
Co-Principals, Northern Baptist Learning Community
A day spent at the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park last week symbolised for me an ending and a beginning.
The visit was inspired by one of the generous gifts (a year’s RHS membership) I received at the NBLC Community Day at the end of June – for which my sincere thanks to all who contributed – which will add a rich dimension to the variety of activities I have planned for the coming year as I ease into a new phase of ministry in ‘retirement’. In brief, I hope to move to Derbyshire in the early autumn, and among other things offer a ministry of spiritual companionship.
It also came towards the end of a somewhat prolonged departure from students and especially colleagues, to whom also I give thanks for all their hard work and companionship on the journey over many years – including those who have themselves moved on to other callings.
The end of July is the time I’ve set for clearing the office in Luther King House: the long hand-over period has meant that Glen and Clare are now established in their new roles, their planning for next year is well in hand, and they will pick up full responsibility in September with confidence that they know just enough of what Co-Principalship is about – and will continue to put their own stamp on the collaborative relationship as, along with the staff team (to be joined soon by Tim) and the Governors, they lead the Learning Community into the next stage of its life with wisdom and NBLC’s customary creative energy.
Creating beauty out of …
The garden that attracted me most at Tatton was that entitled ‘Breaking the Cycle’ (above) created by staff and women prisoners ‘on release on temporary licence’ from HMP Styal: it represents the crossroads in women’s lives when through support, training and reassurance they are helped to grow in self-esteem and confidence to break the cycle of gangs, drugs and petty crime and build a positive future for themselves and their families.
Without overdoing the symbolic connections (although it’s refreshing to see how cycling has caught on amongst staff as a means of transport!), it did seem to me it could also be a visual representation of NBLC’s pioneering work over the last two decades: we have long worked with God’s people at their own crossroads, not only those who sense a call to ordained ministry but those who are yearning to develop other giftings, seeking validation through learning for lives of wider service as they plumb the depths of all God has to offer to and through them, often breaking cycles of disempowerment. These ministries are not always recognised or valued, and women and children, people of colour or disability, or different sexuality, still suffer injustice and discrimination in the church (although our Baptist family is working seriously to address these justice issues). Through the support of our staff and our learning resources, and in fulfilment of our mission statement and core values, we can help people to grow in confidence in their own calling from God: we have a track record of standing in solidarity with many marginalised people groups, and have played – and still do – a small part in bringing about change for many hitherto unseen and unheard. This is the prophetic edge to NBLC’s work, established by visionary thinking (as well as generous benefaction) in the past: long may that work of God flourish, on the edge but at the heart of the life of NBLC.
My prayers are with you all on the next phase of the journey.
One of the highlights of the year at NBLC is the retreat shared by ministerial students and staff. We are just back from this year’s retreat at Wistaston Hall in Crewe. We were led by Sian Murray Williams, Tutor in Worship Studies at Bristol Baptist College. Sian helped us to think pray and share about what it means for us to live out the meaning of our baptism. We focused on yielding to God’s loving call and responding to the deep desires that God has placed at the core of our risen life. We also heard from our leaving students as they shared about future ministry and spoke of their time as a part of the NBLC community. Very moving as always. Staff and students alike greatly appreciated our time alone together with God.
‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’ (Psalm 137:4)
This verse was referred to over and over as David Beech and I represented NBLC at the Consortium of European Baptist Theological Schools (CEBTS)/Northumbria Community week at IBTS in Prague. We were joined by students and lecturers from all over Europe (including residents of IBTS) and members of the Northumbria Community to explore Spirituality and Discipleship.
We were encouraged to think about the question asked in Psalm 137. If we are now living in a Post-Christendom society then we now need to think about how we sustain, express and share our faith in places that feel like a ‘strange land’.
We were introduced to the beginnings of Celtic Christianity, where the monastic movement continued to be strangers and exiles in the world even if they seemed settled and their communities became places of refuge for pligrims, strangers and aliens. We explored a missional movement where community was key in expressing and sharing faith. This way of being is counter ‘institutional church’ culture – there is an emphasis on ‘being’ church in all places instead of ‘doing’ church – noticing the spiritual in the everyday and engaging with God within a community that speaks of Christ.
The rhythm of the week was helpful, and the space to pause, breathe and seek God in a busy life was beneficial. It gave time to consider questions like the one above. It gave time to stop and notice things that we wouldn’t normally notice and see God at work in places we’d missed. We even had a bit of time to explore the beautiful city of Prague…!
One of the key questions of the week (for me!) was if you were a stick of rock what words would run through you? Would it just say your own equivalent of ‘Blackpool’ or might it say something about the values that motivate you and the way you live out your faith?
You can download our new NBLC Prayer Diary Prayerdiary 13jan-mar . It provides an opportunity to pray for the whole community, as well as giving an insight into what is going on day to day.
As you may already be are aware 2013 is going to be a time of change at Northern Baptist Learning Community as we seek to appoint new members of staff to replace Richard Kidd (retired October 2012) Stephen Keyworth who leaves us to take up his appointment as head of the new Church & Society Department with the Baptist Union at Didcot, and Anne Phillips who retires at the end of August. Whilst some of these may strictly be outside of the scope of the current Prayer Diary we would ask that you keep the College staff and students, the appointments group and the Governing body in your prayers during the coming months as we begin to journey forward into the future.
Finally all of us at Northern Baptist Learning Community would like to wish you a happy and peaceful New Year.