Last week I announced that I have been appointed to the role of Warden of the College of St Hugh. This weekend I want to use the opportunity of this column to explain a little more of what that means and what I am going to be doing.
Among the most important things that the church is charged to do are teaching the faith and equipping its members for mission and ministry. The resources that we invest in ‘theological education’ are most obviously directed towards doing this for those who are called to specific ministries within the church – those who are to be ordained, or licensed, to serve as Priests, Deacons or Readers for example.
Less visible (and sometimes because there isn’t very much there to be seen) are the resources that we devote (or ought to devote) to doing this for others in the church – those who are new to faith; those who are looking to grow in their faith; those whose faith is hanging by a slender thread.
The vision of the College of St Hugh is to be a resource for teaching the faith to all the faithful people of the Diocese, whatever their age, their background, or their level of prior knowledge and experience.
It is also, however, a resource for training and equipping those same people for the work of Christian mission that we all share. The Christian church is a missionary church – we are invited to participate in God’s mission to reconcile everything and everyone to Godself in Christ. This is not a task that belongs only to those who are ordained. It is the work of all the people of God, and yes, I do mean you.
Many readers will find this worrying, and I recognise that words like ‘missionary’ have a particular set of overtones that are troubling in today’s world. But the only mission that matters is the one I’ve already mentioned: God’s. God sent God’s son into the world to save and redeem our damaged humanity. God sends God’s Holy Spirit on the church to give us power to share that good news. God sends us out into the world, week by week, to love and to serve.
The College of St Hugh is being established to help every Christian in our Diocese to do their bit, whether that’s helping to offer hospitality, keeping the church building clean and in good repair, telling their friends the simple truth about the difference that being a Christian has made in their life, offering practical loving support to those in need, or any other of the many different ways in which we reach out to the world around us.
Please pray for me as I make the transition into this new role.
May God bless you all,